A new study from UCLA shows evidence that a diet high in fructose slows down the brain, negatively affects learning, and can damage memory—but adding omega-3 fatty acids to your diet can counteract the effects.
The study, from the School of Medicine at UCLA, shows that eating a high-fructose diet over a lifetime affects the brain’s ability to learn and remember. Plenty of earlier research has shown a link between fructose and diseases like diabetes, obesity, and fatty liver, but this study is the first one that has shown a correlation between fructose and brain function.
“We’re less concerned about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants,” explained Dr. Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, a lead author on the study. “We’re more concerned about the fructose in high-fructose corn syrup, which is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative.”
The study followed rats who were fed a fructose solution for six weeks. A second group of rats also received the fructose, but got a dose of omega-3 fatty acids and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid), both of which have been shown to protect the synapses in the brain.
The rats that received the DHA and omega-3s performed markedly better in memory and intelligence tests than those that did not.
“Our findings suggest that consuming DHA regularly protects the brain against fructose’s harmful effects,” said Gomez-Pinilla. “It’s like saving money in the bank. You want to build a reserve for your brain to tap when it requires extra fuel to fight off future diseases.”
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