Examination day. You wake up with a huge smile on your face, take a nice warm bath, pick your “exam clothes, eat a sumptuous breakfast, and walk with confidence as you enter the school halls. You see your classmates trying to cram all of the information into their brains as you patiently wait for the questionnaire. You feel confident and you brush off the need to do last minute reviews because you know that you worked hard to prepare for that long exam. You spent sleepless nights to study and you know you’ll ace the exam. Your teacher enters the room, makes sure everyone is present, and then approaches each student to give the questionnaire. You see the questions, your smile disappears because your mind just went blank.
If you’ve had this experience, don’t feel disheartened because all hope is not lost. While there are mental exercises that you can do to improve your memory, there are also superfoods that you can eat to help improve your brain function.
Superfoods are like powerhouses that are jam packed with nutrients such as polyphenols, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. By simply incorporating these superfoods to your diet, you get benefits such as adding a few more years to your life, slowing down the aging process, increasing your body’s immunity and decreasing the risk of chronic disease. There are plenty of superfoods out there but for this article, we will be putting the spotlight on blackcurrant which is recently gaining popularity because of its nutritional benefits.
Blackcurrants have a beautiful shade of purple and black which shows that anthocyanins are present in this superfood. These anthocyanins are loaded with health-promoting qualities and excellent antioxidant activity. Speaking of antioxidants, blackcurrants contain high levels of phenolics including flavonoids that fight cancer, degenerative diseases that appear as we age, and cardiovascular disease. Normally, people consume blackadder as juice which is okay because according to research, its antioxidants remain active after being processed into wine, jam, and juice. The liquid form also makes it easy for the body’s cells to absorb the nutrients from the blackcurrant.
Studies have shown that blackcurrants, or blackadders, from New Zealand are the perfect superfood for the brain. These blackcurrants are excellent in keeping the brain young and agile. Research conducted by the scientists from Plant and Food Research in New Zealand, revealed that the compounds present in blackcurrants from New Zealand boost mental performance indicators such as mood, attention, and accuracy. Results from the research which was done in collaboration with UK’s Northumbria University, also showed that blackadder juice lessened the enzyme activity of monoamine oxidases which controls the production of serotonin and dopamine in the brain.
The recent discovery of the benefits from blackcurrant is very beneficial for people from the older generation and for those who are experiencing mental decline problems. According to research, people who are suffering from mental conditions such as Parkinson’s disease and depression will be able to maximize the health benefits they’ll be getting from blackcurrant because it regulates the production of dopamine and serotonin in the brain. Dopamine, a neurotransmitter, controls emotional responses and movements. It also allows us to recognize rewards and move toward those rewards. People with low dopamine often end up with Parkinson’s disease or worse, addiction. Serotonin, a type of chemical, functions as a neurotransmitter and helps convey signals to different parts of the brain. Although it is manufactured in the brain, ninety percent of its supply is found in the blood platelets and digestive tract. According to research, not having enough serotonin in the body can cause severe mood swings which, in the long run, may lead to serious mental conditions such as anxiety, depression, excess anger, panic, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
An experiment to find out how blackcurrant affects the brain involved thirty-six participants from different age groups. These participants were then split into two smaller groups. One group was asked to consume a placebo drink while the other group chugged down 250 mL of blackcurrant juice. After this, the two groups were asked to do a series of mental performance. The results showed that the people who drank blackcurrant juice had improvements in their attention and mood. It was also noticeable that their mental fatigue decreased.
The results of the study proved that blackcurrant consumption is also beneficial for people who want to boost their mental performance. If you’re gearing up for board or bar exams, or if you want to improve brain functions so you can perform better in school, try adding blackcurrants to your daily food consumption. It doesn’t matter if you’ll eat or drink it. What’s important is you consume it!
There are plenty of blackcurrant varieties that can be sourced from different parts of the world but according to research, the ones from New Zealand are the best source of polyphenols and compounds that can help improve brain functions no matter how young or old you are.