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Snack smart: foods to keep your mind alert all day

These five brain-boosting snacks are here to save the day and keep you sharp, focused, and productive.

The daily grind can leave us exhausted, especially when that dreaded 3 p.m. slump hits like clockwork.

It's like being the most tired we've ever been—only it happens every single day of the week. But fear not because these five brain-boosting snacks are here to save the day and keep you sharp, focused, and productive.


1. Coffee-Infused Power Snacks

If you're a coffee lover, here's some good news–your favourite brew can boost brain health too. Caffeine and antioxidants found in coffee not only enhance alertness but also improve mood, and sharpen concentration. Long-term coffee consumption has also been linked to a reduced risk of neurological diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. However, remember not to overdo it or consume caffeine too close to bedtime, as it can negatively affect your sleep and brain function. For a brain-boosting snack, try a healthy coffee-infused smoothie, coffee energy balls or a coffee-infused smoothie bowl.


2. Walnuts

Nuts, in general, are nutritional powerhouses, but walnuts stand out for their brain-boosting properties. They are rich in alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3 fatty acid linked to improved cognitive function. Studies have shown that higher walnut consumption correlates with better cognitive test scores. Enjoy walnuts as a snack, baked into healthy breads and muffins or sprinkle them over salads and yogurt for an added brain boost. You can even use them in homemade pestos in the place of pinenuts.


3. Blueberries 

Want to enhance your memory and delay cognitive decline? Reach for blueberries and other dark red and purple fruits and vegetables like blackberries and red cabbage. These vibrant foods contain anthocyanins and plant compounds with protective and anti-inflammatory properties. Studies, including research from Tufts University, suggest that regular consumption of blueberries can improve short-term memory. Incorporate blueberries into your diet through smoothies, fruit bowls, and parfaits, or simply as a snack. 


4. Fatty Fish

When it comes to brain foods, fatty fish reigns supreme. Think of salmon, trout, albacore tuna, herring, and sardines as your brain's best friends. Why? Because they are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, the building blocks of a healthy brain. Your brain is about 60% fat, and omega-3s play a crucial role in building brain and nerve cells, enhancing learning, and preserving memory. Studies even suggest that omega-3s can slow age-related mental decline and lower the risk of Alzheimer’s disease. 

How can you enjoy this brain-boosting snack? For a delicious, hearty snack or light lunch, try salmon salad in lettuce cups or scooped like a high-protein dip, or make mini salmon cakes. Adventurous eaters looking to boost noggin power can top their soups and salads with tinned sardines or eat them straight out of the can with crackers. 


5. Broccoli

Last but certainly not least, broccoli deserves a spot on your brain-boosting snack list. Packed with antioxidants, vitamin K, and sulforaphane, broccoli offers a range of benefits for brain health. Vitamin K is essential for brain cell formation, while sulforaphane provides potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects, protecting the brain from damage. Enjoy broccoli raw with dips like hummus or roasted until crispy for a tasty snack that fuels both body and mind.

Bottom line

Making these brain-boosting snacks apart from your daily routine can significantly affect how your brain functions and thinks, including short- and long-term memory retention and mood. The next time you hit that 3 p.m. slump, reach for one of these snacks and power through your day with focus and sharpness. 

About the Author


Alicia is a journalist and editor in digital and print media specializing in health, nutrition, fitness, and wellness. She was previously the Editorial Director of Clean Eating and Vegetarian Times. Her work has also appeared in Hone Health The Edge, Yoga Journal, Women’s Running, and Oxygen, among others. In addition to being a content creator, she's an ISSA-certified nutritionist, certified personal trainer, and fitness studio owner in Toronto. Alicia loves spreading the word about helpful, science-backed health information, and she can be contacted via her website at