by Rachael Link, MS, RD
It’s well-known that what you eat can have a big influence on several aspects of your health, from your waistline to your energy levels and beyond. But did you know that there are certain brain foods that boost productivity, enhance memory and help keep you focused?
It’s true that the benefits of a healthy diet extend way beyond the scale; the World Health Organization even estimates that providing proper nutrition and treating micronutrient deficiencies can raise productivity levels by a whopping 20 percent! (1)
So next time you hit that afternoon slump when it feels nearly impossible to get anything done, it may be time to switch up your diet. Simply incorporating a few foods that boost productivity into a well-balanced and healthy diet may be the key to staying focused and energized to overcome that midday lull and get things done.
8 Foods that Boost Productivity & Why
It’s no wonder that these vibrant veggies are considered a great food for brain productivity. Beets are jam-packed with productivity-boosting benefits, thanks to their concentrated content of nitrates, which are naturally-occurring compounds that act as vasodilators to increase blood flow. (2)
In fact, a study published in Nitric Oxide actually found that a high-nitrate diet rich in beetroot juice was able to increase blood flow to certain regions of the brain that are responsible for attention and self-regulation. (3)
Salmon provides a megadose of omega-3 fatty acids, making it a top food for mental energy and focus. These healthy fats are associated with a pretty extensive list of health benefits, ranging from decreased inflammation to better heart health. (4, 5)
There are plenty of reasons to eat your broccoli, from its impressive fiber content to its wealth of important vitamins and minerals. But did you know that broccoli can also help keep you sharp and boost your brain power?
Broccoli is rich in choline, an essential nutrient with powerful benefits when it comes to cognition. Research suggests that choline is involved in cognitive performance, brain development and even memory function. (8, 9)
4. Green Tea
A cup of green tea in the morning may be just what you need to get your day off on the right foot and amp up your productivity. According to a recent 2017 review, green tea can have some pretty powerful effects on the brain. It’s been associated with reduced anxiety, better memory and increased attention. (10)
Enjoying a scrambled egg or veggie-filled omelette for breakfast is a great way to promote productivity all day long. Not only are eggs loaded with choline, an essential nutrient that can crank up cognition, but they’re also a good source of protein.
A study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition demonstrated that a high-protein breakfast led to greater reductions in ghrelin, the hormone responsible for stimulating hunger, compared to a high-carb breakfast. (12) This means that you’ll stay fuller for longer, allowing you to focus on the task at hand rather than your grumbling stomach.
6. Dark Chocolate
Great news for chocolate lovers: this delicious sweet treat makes the list of top foods that boost productivity, giving you all the more reason to indulge. One of the reasons dark chocolate is so great for productivity is because it contains caffeine, which can help kick up energy levels, concentration and alertness. (13)
It’s also a good source of magnesium, an important mineral that has been shown to enhance learning and memory in animal studies. (14) Feel free to enjoy the occasional square or two as one of the best snacks for productivity, but be sure to keep it in moderation.
This healthy nut packs in a powerful punch when it comes to nutrition. In fact, just a one-ounce serving can knock out 37 percent of your vitamin E needs, a nutrient essential for protecting the brain against aging. (15, 16)
An animal study out of Pakistan also found that eating almonds regularly can increase levels of acetylcholine, a type of neurotransmitter that improves learning and memory. (17) Plus, a 2014 study from the Brigham and Women’s Hospital showed that higher nut consumption was associated with better attention and cognitive function in older women. (18)
8. Sweet Potatoes
Full of complex carbohydrates, sweet potatoes are digested slowly to promote satiety, stabilize blood sugar and provide you with a steady stream of energy to help increase productivity.
When it comes to healthy eating and work productivity, these powerful foods should be added to a well-balanced and nutritious diet. Munching on a few stalks of broccoli won’t make much of a difference if the rest of your diet is filled with ultra-processed foods and junk. Instead, make sure you’re adding these foods into a diet rich in protein, fiber and healthy fats.
Additionally, keep in mind that diet is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to productivity. While there are definitely plenty of foods that boost productivity and help bump up brain power, there are several other factors that should be considered as well.
Be sure to stick to a consistent sleep schedule, incorporate regular physical activity into your routine and set yourself up for success by staying organized. Other ways that you can increase productivity include setting goals, making to-do lists, taking short breaks as needed and limiting distractions like cell phones.
Coupled with a few servings of foods that boost productivity, adding these healthy habits into your day can make a major impact in your productivity at work, home or school.
- Your diet can have a big impact on many aspects of productivity, including your energy levels, concentration, memory and alertness.
- There are a wide variety of foods that boost productivity that can enhance brain power, increase attention and help you stay energized and focused throughout your day.
- For best results, pair your favorite brain food for work with a well-rounded and balanced diet along with a few healthy habits to maximize productivity.
Read Next: What Foods Should You Eat Before a Workout?
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