Phil and Mel In The Afternoon

Phil and Mel In The Afternoon

Phil and Mel In The Afternoon

(Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Dr. Uma Naidoo, a nutritional psychiatrist, brain expert and faculty member at Harvard Medical School, knows exactly what people should be eating to support brain function, especially when they’re young. Research shows that the foods children eat can affect their cognition, temperament, language and motor skills. In an article for CNBC, Dr. Naidoo writes, “the first few years of life lay the groundwork for brain health.”

Naidoo explains that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, folate, iron, iodine, zinc, choline and vitamins A, B12, and D all support brain health, behavior, and learning. She also recommends avoiding processed foods with added sugars. But this expert in brain health knows that kids can be picky eaters, so she advises parents to get creative with these six “brain foods” for their little ones’ development.

  • Superfood Smoothies

    Sometimes you have to hide the nutrition. Dr. Naidoo says to use leafy greens that are high in folate and fiber, like spinach and kale, along with chia seeds or walnuts for plant-based omega-3 fatty acids, and protein. Add avocado for healthy fats and antioxidant-rich blueberries. For protein and gut-healthy probiotics that boost mood, mix in some plain, unsweetened yogurt.

    Smoothie Robot Makes Healthy Drinks On Campus Of University Of San Francisco

    (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Homemade Veggie Fries

    Remember that air fryer you bought during the pandemic? Cut some zucchini, carrots, and green beans; add a little black pepper, turmeric, rosemary, oregano, parsley, or thyme for flavor; and crisp them up. Vegetables provide needed fiber and phytonutrients.

    woman shopping for produce

    (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)

  • Homemade Hummus

    Dr. Naidoo says legumes like chickpeas are healthy, plant-based sources of iron, zinc, protein and fiber, all of which are good for brain development. Whip up a batch and the kiddos can dip carrots, celery, sugar snap peas, or apple slices. You can even add some fun color to your hummus by using carrots or beets.

    homemade hummus

    (Photo by Matthew Eisman/Getty Images for Food Network Magazine)

  • Salmon

    I’ve always heard that fish was “brain food.” Dr. Naidoo says salmon is loaded with B12 and omega-3s, which promote healthy brain development and happier moods. The trick is to introduce fish your kids when they’re really young.

    salmon fillets

    (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

  • Eggs

    What’s not to love about eggs? I think eggs just might be nature’s perfect food. Dr. Naidoo says they’re a good source of brain-boosting vitamins A, D and B12, as well as choline, which has been shown to improve brain development and long-term memory. And, although pricier, pastured eggs can have twice as much vitamin E and almost three times as many omega-3s as caged eggs, according to one study.


    (Photo Illustration by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

  • Meatballs

    Dr. Naidoo recommends sneaking some plant-based fiber and veggies into your child’s diet using meatballs. Start with beans, lentils or ground turkey as a base, add shredded spinach or zucchini, then use flax to add omega-3s and as a binder. Don’t forget to flavor with some spices.


    (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for NYCWFF)

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