Sugar Enhances the Stupid. Omega-3s Bring on the Smart.

Just about every health magazine and column has offered up an article on the benefits of eating omega-3 fatty acids, commonly found in chia and flax seeds, and – wait for it – the oil of a bearded seal.  Wouldn’t it be fabulous to just pop a pill and know you’d be in brainiac mode all day?

These points I’ve heard and pondered before, but in an article from Alice G. Walton over at Forbes (I subscribe to her feed, not the magazine), we’re introduced to a recent study from UCLA that also shows how sugar could actually make us dumber.  In the case of rat subjects, problem solving skills took a measurable plunge when given a diet higher in fructose over the course of 6 weeks.

And how did the omega-3 rodents compare?  Read on to find out …

Though we may not have fully come to terms with it, in theory we know that high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is an adversary of health. Lots of work has been done looking at the effect of fructose on weight, liver function, diabetes risk, and even the growth of cancer cells. But not much has looked at the role of fructose in brain function, until now. Researchers have just reported that among the list of bodily ills that fructose contributes to, it may also “make you dumb.” Luckily, eating a diet rich in the healthy omega-3 fatty acids seems to counteract this phenomenon.

In the new study, UCLA researchers had rats spend a few days learning to navigate a maze. Then some of the rats ate diets rich in omega-3 fatty acids or deficient in them; some rats also drank a fructose solution in the place of their regular drinking water. After six weeks on their respective diets, the team put the rats back in the maze to see how well they recalled it.

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