Feed Your Brain: The Best Foods to Eat Before a Test

A cup with green tea
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We all know that good nutrition, or brain food, can give us energy and help us live longer, more satisfying lifestyles. That doesn't mean you can eat a banana and score 1600 on the Redesigned SAT. But did you know that brain food can actually get you a better test score?

Green tea

  • Key Ingredient: Polyphenols
  • Test Help: Brain protection and mood enhancement

According to Psychology Today, polyphenols, the bitter-tasting substance in green tea, can actually protect the brain from your standard wear and tear. It's restorative, which helps growth on the cellular level. Plus, green tea has been known to encourage dopamine production, which is key to a positive mental state. And really, when you are going to take a test, you absolutely must have a positive attitude about it, or you'll doom yourself to second-guessing, worry, and fear, which do not good scores make.


  • Key Ingredient: Choline
  • Test Help: Memory improvement

Choline, the "B-vitamin"-like substance our bodies need, can help your brain do something it's good at; remember stuff. Some studies have found that increasing choline intake can improve memory, and egg yolks are among the richest and easiest natural sources of choline. So scramble them up a few months before testing day to see if it helps you remember how to fill in an oval.

Wild Salmon

  • Key Ingredient: Omega-3-fatty acids
  • Test Help: Brain function improvement

The omega-3 fatty acid DHA is the major polyunsaturated fatty acid found in the brain. Eating food rich in omega-3's, like wild-caught salmon, can improve brain function and mood. And improved brain function (reasoning, listening, responding, etc.) can lead to a higher test score. Allergic to fish? Try walnuts. Squirrels can't have all the fun.

Dark Chocolate

  • Key Ingredient: Flavonoids and Caffeine
  • Test Help: Focus and Concentration

We have all heard for a while now that in small quantities, 75 percent cacao content or higher dark chocolate can lower blood pressure and cholesterol because of its powerful antioxidant properties from the flavonoids. You can't watch the news without hearing some report about it, especially around Valentine's Day. But one of the best uses of dark chocolate comes from its natural stimulant: caffeine. Why? It can help you focus your energy. Beware, though. Too much caffeine will send you through the roof and can actually work against you when you sit down to test. So eat the dark chocolate in isolation - don't mix it with coffee or tea before you test.

Acai Berries

  • Key Ingredients: Antioxidants and Omega-3 fatty acids
  • Test Help: Brain Function and Mood

Acai has become so popular, that it seems cliché to want to consume it. For test-takers, though, the incredibly high antioxidant levels can help blood flow to the brain, which means, in short, it'll work better. And, since the acai berry has a ton of omega-3's, it works on your mood, too, so you'll be more confident of your abilities as you're working your way through complex math problems.

So, on test day, why not try a cup of green tea, some scrambled eggs mixed with smoked wild-caught salmon, and an Acai smoothie followed by a piece of dark chocolate? Worst case scenario? You've had a healthy breakfast. Best case scenario? You improve your testing score.

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Your Citation
Roell, Kelly. "Feed Your Brain: The Best Foods to Eat Before a Test." ThoughtCo, Aug. 26, 2020, thoughtco.com/best-brain-food-for-test-takers-3212039. Roell, Kelly. (2020, August 26). Feed Your Brain: The Best Foods to Eat Before a Test. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/best-brain-food-for-test-takers-3212039 Roell, Kelly. "Feed Your Brain: The Best Foods to Eat Before a Test." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/best-brain-food-for-test-takers-3212039 (accessed March 20, 2023).