7 Nutrients and Foods That Help Boost Productivity

Woman with healthful food
Yuri Shevtsov / Shutterstock.com

This story originally appeared on FlexJobs.com.

Even though we all know that “you are what you eat,” there are times when that doesn’t stop us from reaching for a candy bar.

Nutrition plays a huge role in how our brain functions, which can affect how we’re able to comprehend and answer questions and can help increase productivity on the job.

Including foods that support performance and productivity in your diet doesn’t mean a lifetime of bland “health” foods, though. There are plenty of tasty superfoods you can eat to boost mental awareness and improve productivity at work.

1. Omega-3 fatty acids

Grilled salmon on a dinner plate
Tatjana Baibakova / Shutterstock.com

Responsible for the healthy functioning of our brains, omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce inflammation, balance blood sugar, build better brain cell membranes and help in the formation of new brain cells. They can also put you in a happier mood, improve memory and focus, and fight depression and dementia.

You can find omega-3s in fish (like salmon), wild game, eggs, flaxseed, kale and avocado.

2. Antioxidants and flavonoids

fresh produce
Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock.com

Antioxidants may help protect your cells from free radicals — molecules your body produces when it breaks down food or when you’re exposed to things like tobacco smoke. Flavonoids are a type of antioxidant that can help your body regulate cellular activity.

Widely recognized for their antioxidant properties, berries (like strawberries, blueberries and raspberries) have a history of improving brain health. A study published in the Annals of Neurology found that those who consumed large amounts of strawberries, blueberries and other members of the berry family experienced a slower decline in memory and focus.

Blueberries, in particular, contain flavonoids that can improve cognition. One study found that school children who ate wild blueberries improved their executive function, short-term memory and mood.

3. B vitamins

Partially peeled boiled eggs on a countertop.
Ildi Papp / Shutterstock.com

B vitamins can help put you in a better mood. They help the body produce mood-boosting serotonin, dopamine and GABA, all of which balance your brain chemicals — and optimize you for better mental well-being and increased energy levels. You can get a B vitamin boost from eggs, peas, broccoli, spinach, pecans, whole grains and meat.

And speaking of B vitamins, a key member of the B vitamin family, B-12, is known for supporting a healthy nervous system, metabolic processes, adrenal function and DNA synthesis. B-12 is also important for increasing energy levels and improving one’s overall mental health.

Unfortunately for us, our bodies don’t produce B-12. So, we need to get it from animal sources, such as eggs, fish, dairy products and meat. Or, we can take it in a supplement form.

4. Lutein

Spinach
nesavinov / Shutterstock.com

Another powerful antioxidant, lutein, can help protect against cognitive decline. Lutein also helps protect your eyes from potential problems like cataracts and age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Spinach is rich in lutein and has been linked to lower rates of cognitive decline, according to a study at Harvard Medical School. If spinach isn’t your thing, you can eat other leafy green vegetables like kale, broccoli, peas and lettuce. Or, try egg yolks!

5. Protein

Dionisvera / Shutterstock.com

Responsible for both satisfying your appetite longer and keeping you alert, protein is a must-have food that increases productivity. When compared to eating a high-carb breakfast, protein knocked it out of the park in terms of keeping people awake, as it contains lower tryptophan levels than carbs.

Foods that contain high levels of protein include nuts, beans, fish, meat and eggs.

6. Caffeine

Hands holding coffee beans
Tati Nova photo Mexico / Shutterstock.com

There’s a reason why so many people start their day with a cup of joe. Caffeine has been shown to increase alertness by enhancing dopamine signals in the brain. That means caffeine doesn’t just make you more alert; it can improve your mood.

Being more alert and in a better mood is bound to make you more productive! Just remember that the effects are temporary and too much caffeine can cause you to crash.

7. Water

KieferPix / Shutterstock.com

Last but not least on our list is the source of all life, water. Many place too much emphasis on boosting their caffeine levels in the morning and not enough on just plain water intake. Staying hydrated helps physical performance and energy levels, among other things. The recommended daily water intake is two liters, a half-gallon or eight 8-ounce glasses.

Improve your productivity

Woman eating salad
ALPA PROD / Shutterstock.com

There’s nothing wrong with reaching for the candy jar every once in a while. But if you want to improve your job performance (and health) over the long term, eating a diet that includes these healthy nutrients and foods that increase productivity is a better bet.

For more advice on improving your productivity at work, sign up for our newsletter. You’ll get the best of our articles, fresh job postings and more, sent right to your inbox.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

Read Next
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman
6 Reasons I Will Never Trust Suze Orman

Beware: The self-proclaimed personal finance expert has a track record that suggests more sizzle than steak.

8 Surefire Ways to Get Rid of Debt ASAP
8 Surefire Ways to Get Rid of Debt ASAP

Here’s how to pay off debt fast and pain-free.

6 Investing Tools That Help You Diversify
6 Investing Tools That Help You Diversify

Here’s how you can lend to startup businesses, fund social causes or get in on investments once available only to the very rich.

15 of the Most Outrageously Overpriced Products
15 of the Most Outrageously Overpriced Products

Retailers mark up products by hundreds of times their cost — but you don’t have to pay the premium.

12 Tech Gadgets That Make Daily Life Easier
12 Tech Gadgets That Make Daily Life Easier

These products on Amazon will ease worries and simplify your routine.

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Most Popular
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy
10 Things Frugal People Never Buy

If you’re a true tightwad, the mere thought of spending money on these items gives you the willies.

10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making
10 Useless Purchases You Need to Stop Making

You might as well flush your money down the loo if you spend it on these things.

The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles
The 16 Cars Most Likely to Last 200,000 Miles

One automaker takes half the spots on a list of the longest-lasting vehicles.

7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now
7 Social Security Rules Everyone Should Know by Now

Confusion over Social Security is a shame, considering how many of us will need this money badly.

9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco
9 Shopping Mistakes to Avoid at Costco

Are you missing out on serious savings at your favorite warehouse club?

If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It
If You Find This Thrift Shopping, Buy It

They don’t make coffee makers like this anymore.

11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic
11 Products Now in Short Supply Due to the Pandemic

Many goods we take for granted have become tough to find in 2021.

7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco
7 Kirkland Signature Items to Avoid at Costco

Even if it seems you save a bundle buying Costco’s Kirkland Signature brand products, they may not be the bargain they appear to be.

14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021
14 Things You Should Stop Buying in 2021

These convenient household products come with hidden costs that you might not have considered.

3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free
3 Ways to Get Microsoft Office for Free

With a little ingenuity, you can cut Office costs to zero.

Is Writing a Check Still Safe?
Is Writing a Check Still Safe?

Every time you pay by check, you hand your bank account numbers to a stranger.

6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers
6 Ways to Protect Your Retirement Accounts From Hackers

Imagine having $245,000 stolen from your retirement account — and not being reimbursed.

8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today
8 Things You Should Replace to Improve Your Life Today

Being frugal isn’t smart if you put off replacing these items.

This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.
This Is the Most Dependable Car Brand in the U.S.

This brand’s vehicles are least likely to give drivers repair headaches, according to J.D. Power.

13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now
13 Amazon Purchases We Are Loving Right Now

These practical products make everyday life a little easier.

7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know
7 Hidden Sections of Amazon Every Shopper Should Know

These little-known departments of Amazon are gold mines for deal-seekers and impulse shoppers alike.

7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook
7 Income Tax Breaks That Retirees Often Overlook

Did you realize all these tax credits and deductions exist — or that they apply to retirees?

7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking
7 Social Security Benefits You May Be Overlooking

There’s more to Social Security than retirement benefits.

The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners
The 6 Best Investing Apps for Beginners

If you’re looking to ease into investing in the coronavirus economy with just a little money, check out these easy-to-use tools.

View More Articles

View this page without ads

Help us produce more money-saving articles and videos by subscribing to a membership.

Get Started

Add a Comment

Our Policy: We welcome relevant and respectful comments in order to foster healthy and informative discussions. All other comments may be removed. Comments with links are automatically held for moderation.