The Six Best Foods for Your Child's Brain

Nutrition, especially in a stage of constant development like infancy, should be based on all aspects of growth. In other words, children's diets shouldn't be based only on the advantages for their bodies, but also for their cognitive functions.
The Six Best Foods for Your Child's Brain

Last update: 08 May, 2018

The food our children eat doesn’t only supply nutrients for their physical growth. Did you know that certain foods also have the capacity to boost the development of your child’s brain? 
In this article, we want to share with you a list of the best foods for your little one’s brain.

We all know that milk and other dairy products are good for our bones. It’s also common knowledge that fruits and vegetables help us grow and keep us healthy.

But now, do you know which foods favor brain development and mental functions? If you have no idea, don’t worry… you’re part of the majority.

This doesn’t mean there are magical recipes that will turn your son or daughter into a future Einstein. But yes, these foods provide considerable benefits for the optimum maturation of your child’s brain. 

Below you’ll find a list of the best foods for a child’s developing brain.

6 excellent foods for a child’s brain

Memory, concentration and learning all benefit from the nutrients that certain foods offer. Your child doesn’t just reap the benefits of good nutrition during childhood, but even before they’re born.

That means that a proper diet during pregnancy can strengthen cognitive development of your baby during gestation.

The most beneficial foods for the brain functions of children are:

1. Blue fish or oily fish

Blue fish refers to the blue tone that these fish acquire due to the low temperature of the water they live in.

Also known as oily fish, this category includes a number of fish species. For example: Sardines, red mullet, tuna, salmon, swordfish, turbot, mackerel, anchovy, pomfret, eel, herring, carp, yellowtail, elver, dogfish, and lamprey.

These fish possess important quantities of omega 3, a natural oil that makes up the cell membranes of the brain.

In fact, almost 60% of the total weight of the nervous system is made up of lipids. Therefore, blue fish are an excellent way to nourish your little ones.

The Six Best Foods for Your Child's Brain

2. Pasta

As we all know, carbohydrates supply energy to our bodies. We often tend to assume the energy is consumed by our physical exertion, but carbohydrates also supply energy to our brains.

In fact, our brain consumes 20% of our daily energy resources.

Your body absorbs carbohydrates – such as pasta – very slowly. This allows your organism to have a constant supply of glucose as combustion for your brain. We recommend eating pasta during the daytime.

As for cereals, which are also carbohydrates, it’s a good idea for your child to eat them for breakfast. This offers your little ones a pick-me-up after a long night without eating.

3. Egg yolk

Egg yolk’s main benefit is that it contains choline, a type of vitamin B. The importance of this nutrient is that it forms myelin, a substance that covers the unions between neurons, called neurotransmitters.

Choline can also be found in leafy greens. The intake of this substance is highly important during a child’s first years of life, which is when brain connections form. 

Of course, it’s also important to choose a variety of choline-containing foods, and not rely solely on eggs.

4. Legumes and red meats

Why do we put these foods in the same category? It’s because they share the same fundamental nutrients.

On the one hand, they both provide the body with proteins. Proteins are very important in the formation of tissues in the body.

Not all proteins contain essential amino acids, which are those that contribute specifically to the nervous system. Therefore, it’s best to be diligent in giving your child a variety of protein sources.

On the other hand, both legumes and red meat offer significant quantities of iron. This mineral is favorable to the body’s absorption of oxygen, which passes to the blood and then to the brain.

Proper iron intake helps to prevent lack of concentration, burnout, and tiredness in general.

“Memory, concentration and learning all benefit from the nutrients that certain foods offer”

5. Sugar

You’re probably asking how sugar could possibly be on a list of foods that are good for a little one’s brain. Sugar is key in stimulating the brain and keeping it active. 

However, intake should be limited. An excessive amount of sugar in your child’s diet can cause damage to his or her body and put your little one at risk for diseases like diabetes.

So, a daily dosage of two or more fruits will have a positive effect on your child’s brain development. We recommend bananas in particular, as they’re especially good at improving brain functions.

At the same time, a moderate amount of chocolate or cacao in your child’s diet won’t do any harm.

The Six Best Foods for Your Child's Brain

6. Dairy products

Of course, yogurt, milk and cheese are a must. These foods contain high quantities of calcium, which is important in the regulation of nerve function.

It’s also important in reducing arterial pressure, which tends to rise when we’re stressed or mentally worn out.

Calcium plays a key role in the transmission of nerve impulses. It’s found not only in dairy products, which are the main source, but also in nuts, vegetables and fruits.

At the same time, certain dairy foods like Greek yogurt provide healthy fats, whose benefits are similar to those of oily fish.

In conclusion, a proper diet is a fundamental part of a child’s development in every sense. It doesn’t only benefit children’s physical growth, but also their mental functions.

Therefore, be careful to include these brain foods in your child’s daily diet.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • Blusztajn JK., Slack BE., Mellott TJ., Neuroprotective actions of dietary choline. Nutrients, 2017.
  • Centros para el Control y la Prevención de Enfermedades. Desarrollo temprano del cerebro y salud. U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Febrero 2021.
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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.