5 Finals & 10 college applications to go.
Boy, my brain is tired.
Good thing that I’ve got just the thing—er, smoothie to fix that.
Fruits? Check. Vegetables? Check. Fiber? Check. Protein? Check. Omega-3-rich oil? Check. Magic? Check. This chilly fruity tonic has just about everything you can think of—and all of it is brain food! It has a whole host of Omega-3, complex carbs, B vitamins, antioxidants, tryptophan…whoa, sorry there, I got a little carried away. The brain is definitely my thing (if you didn’t already now, I’m an aspiring neuroscientist), so I know a little something about what it likes and doesn’t like. Don’t worry, though—it took me a while to figure out what all the nutritional buzzwords people like to toss around really mean. Let’s do a quick rundown of the ingredients in this smoothie and why they’re ridiculously great for you, your brain, and most importantly, your studying:
- Bananas: Used to thicken the smoothie, but does so much more. Lots of minerals for maintaining bone strength and for helping deliver oxygen to the brain. It’s also a great source of glucose, in the form of complex carbs, and fiber. Your body loves—and I mean loves—glucose. Most cells in your body house a process called cellular respiration that uses glucose to created stored energy in your body in the form of something called ATP. Lots of ATP = Energy to study = Good. Complex carbs are great, because your body breaks these apart gradually. Too much glucose or too many simple carbs, however, and your pancreas can’t get out enough insulin to convert all the extra glucose to store in your body quickly enough—that’s the reason behind sugar highs and crashes you may have experienced. Complex carbs are great by themselves, but fiber makes this whole equation even better by slowing things down even more, helping to retain all that awesome glucose-energy in your system. Hooray!
- Strawberries: My favorite fruit of all time. You know that beautiful red color that a strawberry gets? Well, the color comes from things in the strawberry called anthocyanins, which is a fancy name for a type of antioxidant that takes care of all the free radicals your body accumulates. What exactly are these “antioxidants” and “free radicals,” you ask? Well, imagine that free radicals are a bunch of petty pickpockets running through the streets of your body (especially through your brain), stealing all the valuable electrons and hurting the helpless molecules from who they stole them. Antioxidants are the valiant superheroes that take back these electrons and return them to your body’s molecules (e.g. the ones in your brain), repairing them and ensuring that they’re in proper working order.
- Blackberries and Raspberries: These have a bunch of those free radical-fighting antioxidants. Along with the rest of the fruit, they’re a great source of minerals that your brain likes to use to, well, work. Finally, they have a bunch of tryptophans—remember? Those things in turkey that are supposed to make you sleepy? Well, they’re stress-relieving agents…I think I need some berries right about now.
- Blueberries: The superfood of the bunch. Basically, blueberries are tiny blue nutrient A-bombs. Not only do these have everything I’ve talked about, but they heal damaged brain tissue, prevent the brain from even being hurt in the first place, keep memory sharp, have the highest concentration of antioxidants, preserve vision, keep you alert, are antidepressants, help with digestion, and stave off cancer. Wow. A round of applause for the blueberry, please.
- Spinach: The ninja of this smoothie. Adds no taste, but packs a blast of folate, iron, and potassium, a three-pronged attack on your brain’s exhaustion, malfunction, and damage.
- Carrots: These have beta-carotene to help keep your vision in top shape for those endless hours of textbook reading and essay revising and a great little thing called luteolin that keeps the brain from inflaming—swelling—and wearing out.
- Oatmeal: Another thickening-agent for this smoothie. Oatmeal plays two important roles: it packs a lot of fiber and, and along with some of the food above, packs a bunch of B-vitamins, essential for keeping your brain alert and focused.
- Vanilla Extract: The yum-factor. Besides tasting and smelling great, it’s another calming and stress-relieving agent.
- Whey Protein: Before milk producers bottle milk, they skim off something called whey. The isolated whey protein in this shake makes sure you’re full and that you stay full.
- Flaxseed Oil: Just to top it all off. It’s loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids. No, it’s not going to make you fat—it’s just that your brain already is. Roughly 60% fat, actually. Omega-3 fatty acids are incredibly important to your brain because they help insulate your brain tissue in the form of myelin sheathes and make communication for you brain much more efficient—reducing the time it takes for you to do the second derivative test for of 4x3+12x2-3x4 or to remember the importance of Madison’s Federalist Papers 10 & 51.
This smoothie should last you for a good while, meaning for all of breakfast and then some. Also, make sure to snack in between meals. The other foods featured with the smoothie in the first picture are great—bananas, mixed nuts, and—yes—dark chocolate! Don’t eat too much during each meal, though. We don’t want any faces crashing on books, now do we?
Brain Power Smoothie
I usually pre-freeze my fruit so my smoothie is nice and thick. If not, put some ice cubes in—but beware, this will dilute the flavor of your smoothie.
½ cup strawberries
1 cup mixed blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries
1 ½ cups baby spinach, packed
2/3 cup (baby) carrots
2 tsp vanilla extract
whey protein powder (I use about one full scoop from the powder I have which contains about 20g of protein per scoop)
1 tbsp flaxseed oil
½-2/3 cup orange or coconut juice
Optional: ½ cup rolled oats (Optional, because it gives the smoothie an unusual texture; I happen to like it, but some people don’t)
Combine all ingredients in blender, making sure the juice is last. Blend on low and then switch to high until smoothie has creamy sheen and texture with minimal ice crystals. Serve in a large glass or a large bottle to carry around with you. Sip away!
Don’t worry if it looks like this for a little while…
…because it’ll turn into this very soon.
Good luck everyone! I hope my smoothie will get you through this week!