Five foods that can improve student marks

There are a number of different foods that can really help the brain as it grows. Food can be a powerful tool in a parent’s box to help our children learn.

By Mrs Carlie Deppeler, Principal and Registered Nutritionist 02 August 2016

When you are around a school it doesn’t take too long to hear a phrase along the lines of “I’m not good at Maths” or “I can’t draw so I can’t get good marks in Art”. Research shows that parental attitudes to specific subjects can make a difference to a student’s attitude and grades.

The same can be said for food but the best thing is that as parents we prepare food for our kids and therefore have a greater element of influence over what they eat.


Before you groan and switch off, yes they are a bit of a “buzz” food right now, but there is actually some good science behind the buzz. They are high in Omega 3 Fatty Acids, which is well documented to help with cognitive function. They are a really versatile food and can be easily added to savoury or sweet baked dishes, breakfast cereals or used as an egg replacement as they have the ability to swell when wet.


The brain needs a regular supply of glucose to work properly, the benefit of wholegrain foods is that they have a low glycaemic index (GI) and this provides a nice steady supply of energy for the brain over a longer period of time than high glycaemic foods. Studies have shown that adolescents who eat a low GI breakfast have better cognitive outcomes throughout the day. Carbohydrates get a very bad name in the media and by street nutritionists, however, carbohydrates aren’t your enemy, they are required to sustain life and for kids to flourish and grow. However, it’s all about making the right choice of carbohydrate food and wholegrains is the place to start. Good quality wholegrain foods include wholemeal pasta, wholemeal and multigrain bread, brown rice, pearl barley and if you’re feeling adventurous you may like to try the ancient grains like amaranth, freekah or sorghum.


The Nori or seaweed used in sushi is a good source of a mineral called Iodine. Iodine deficiency has been linked with lower IQ in children. You can eat seaweed in a variety of forms, Nori is just one of them, try Asian grocers for other types. Bread in Australia is required to be fortified with Iodine in so eating a sandwich of wholemeal bread can help keep Iodine levels in check. There are a number of other foods that have a good amount of Iodine including cheese, eggs and yogurt.


Water isn’t exactly a food, but it does get consumed the same way and works very closely with food to sustain us. Studies show that children who have adequate water intakes are able to maintain task performance for longer. The body absorbs water from all the beverages and most of the foods we consumer. For example, fruits and vegetables contain over 80% water so this is one of the many reasons fruits and vegetables are recommended by the Australian Dietary Guidelines. The liquids to avoid, although they provide water they have other detrimental effects include, Soft drinks, fruit juice, energy drinks, sports drinks and coffee.


Lentils are a great source of folate and B vitamins, which have been shown to increase brain function. They are also low GI and therefore provide a nice slow release of energy for the brain to function over a long period of time. Lentils are easy to include in your diet using them in salads, casseroles, pasta or hiding them in patties or soups.

This is by no means and exhaustive list, there are many other foods that can help boost brain power and learning. This is just a start, students who eat a healthy diet are more likely to do better at school, for a multitude of reasons, but the best thing you can do to help your child concentrate while at school is to provide them with food that is going to fuel their brain. The attitude we have as parents to food and to learning can have a huge impact on our kids.

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