“Oh, boy! Finals!” said no one ever in the history of higher education. Many college students rely on cramming to get them up-to-speed on final exam material, and that last-minute brain workout can help ensure you’re ready for the big test. One thing you don’t want to do, however, is cram your face with junk food and unhealthy snacks while you’re studying for finals.
Instead of cheese puffs and nacho chips, or ice cream and cookies washed down with a sugary, highly caffeinated energy drink, look for snacks with less salt, sugar, and fat. Here are 10 budget-friendly yet beneficial snacks that will keep you on track for acing finals.
For an energy boost
Fresh apples, oranges, or bananas – Fresh fruit delivers a wholesome energy boost. Fruit is full of vitamins and minerals, as well as fiber and the good kind of carbs that deliver energy without a post-boost sugar crash. Apples, oranges, and bananas are also grab-and-go kinds of snacks. You don’t have to refrigerate them and you don’t need a knife, spoon, or bowl to eat them.
Greek yogurt – Any yogurt can be a source of good carbs, but Greek yogurt adds a wallop of protein to ensure you’ll stay satisfied and energized for longer. Need some crunch in your snack? Toss in a handful of granola or your favorite nuts.
To stay alert
Caffeine – It’s an exam-time staple, and caffeine can work to help keep you alert while you study. But be careful not to abuse it. Energy drinks can contain a lot of caffeine, so don’t guzzle them like water! Instead, take your caffeine in reasonable doses, such as a moderately sized coffee.
A chocolate bar with nuts – A candy bar with nuts can be a quick pick-me-up, and you get the benefit of the caffeine in the chocolate as well as the protein in the nuts. Again, moderation is important. Too many candy bars and you’ll crash once the sugar works its way out of your system.
Guacamole and whole-grain chips – Avocados are a great source of good-for-you fats that can help build energy and refine focus. Whip up some fresh guac and enjoy it with whole-grain chips for an added boost of fiber.
Foods to promote focus
Green tea and some berries – Brew up a cup of green tea, which contains an amino acid thought to increase the alpha brain waves associated with focus and calm. Enjoy it with a handful of your favorite berries, which contain antioxidants that are good for brain health.
Popcorn – It may sound too good to be true, but popcorn is one snack food that’s not just full of hot air. Popcorn contains fiber, antioxidants, vitamin B, and minerals like magnesium. It’s satisfyingly crunchy and the kind of snack you can enjoy without having to think about it — leaving you free to focus on your studies!
Cashews – Exam time is stressful, but a handful of cashews could help calm your nerves. That’s because they’re full of zinc. Low levels of zinc have been associated with anxiety, so munch away on this stress-relieving nut.
Oatmeal – Packed with fiber and other nutrients, oatmeal can also be a comforting food. Because it’s a complex carb, oatmeal promotes the production of serotonin, a brain chemical associated with feeling good. A big bowl of oatmeal could be just what you need, but we’ll bet an oatmeal cookie or two will do the trick as well!
Chocolate – Is there any food more perfect than chocolate? Not only can it help you concentrate, it can also relieve stress. Many people consider chocolate a comfort food, so a cup of hot cocoa or a nibble of dark chocolate can help ease exam-time stress.
Whatever snacks you choose to get you through exam time, remember to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water and do your best to get at least six to eight hours of sleep each night.