Want to make your next movie night or trip to the theater even better? Pair the right flick with one of these snacks, and you’ll enhance the entire experience.
Nothing goes with a movie as well as popcorn, and if you prepare your bowl of the fluffy stuff the right way, you may even be doing yourself a favor. The hull of popcorn is loaded with antioxidants, which may help ward off cancer and heart disease. It’s also packed with healthy fiber. Now just don't drown your popcorn in butter and salt.
Not only are blueberries delicious, they’re a “superfood” that can help give your brain a kickstart. Studies have found that a large serving of blueberries can give your concentration and memory a boost for up to five hours, which means that no matter how complicated your movie’s plot is you’ll be able to follow along. Scientists have suggested that this effect is thanks to blueberries leading to increased blood flow and oxygen to the brain, so you’ve got a perfect excuse to make a pre-movie smoothie. As an added bonus, the antioxidants in the berries also promote better cardiovascular health.
3. Oily Fish
If you’re cooking for dinner and a movie at home, consider making an oily fish your main course. Oily fish are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to a host of cognitive and memory benefits. A recent study also found that weekly consumption of fish is associated with increased brain volume, so looking to the sea for your movie snacks may help you remember what you’ve seen on the screen for longer.
4. Walnuts and Flax Seeds
Of course, it’s tough to sneak a nice halibut filet into your local multiplex. Luckily, there are other ways to get omega-3 fatty acids. Walnuts and flax seeds are both snackable alternatives that come loaded with omega-3s.
If it seems like chocolate can enhance any situation, there’s a reason: It can! Munching on chocolate prompts the release of pleasurable neurotransmitters like dopamine, which makes us feel happier. Everyone likes to feel happy while they’re watching a movie, and nibbling dark chocolate can make the experience even better: Researchers at the University of Nottingham have determined that the flavanols in dark chocolate can improve brain function and boost overall alertness. Even better, these flavanols can spark improved short-term memory.
Popping a peppermint before a movie will do more than just give you fresher breath. Smelling or tasting peppermint can make you feel more alert and boost your concentration, so you’ll be able to give the flick you’re watching your full attention. Between this benefit and the lift you get from chocolate, is it any wonder that Junior Mints have been king of the theater concession stand for over 60 years?
Not only is guacamole a crowd-pleaser that will draw raves at your next movie night—it can also help boost your brainpower. Avocados are rich in monounsaturated fat that can improve blood flow to the brain.
Yes, broccoli. A study released this fall from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab found that viewers have a tendency to inhale unhealthy snacks as they watch action movies. In the study, two groups of students watched a 20-minute segment of Michael Bay’s The Island, while a control group viewed a segment of the venerable PBS talk show Charlie Rose. All groups had access to a variety of healthy and unhealthy snacks, but it turned out the action-movie groups chowed down on more calories and less healthy snacks. Counteract this effect by swapping the nachos for broccoli, which is packed with memory-boosting compounds like the flavonol quercetin and folic acid.
Now that you know movies can trigger mindless munching, pistachios can be your secret weapon in your fight to limit how much you wolf down during a screening. Studies have shown that eating shelled pistachios can help curb your caloric intake – having to shell each nut slows down your eating, and the discarded shells send your brain a subtle cue to think about how much you’ve been eating. Pistachios also bring along antioxidant benefits, so you’ll be getting the most out of the snacks you do eat.
Want to keep your eyes healthy so you can keep enjoying movies for decades? You might want to borrow a page from Cool Hand Luke and snack on a hard-boiled egg during your next screening. A single hard-boiled egg contains about 6.5 grams of protein—complete protein, that is, which is essential for building muscles. Eggs are also rich in lutein, which strengthens the retina and can reduce the risk for macular degeneration. That means if you peel a few eggs (we don’t recommend 50 of them) along with Paul Newman, you might be able to keep your eyes peeled as you age.