US scientists have advised students to stay off high sugar goods during exam season having found that food and drink processed with fructose slows brain functions, hampering memory and learning.

Researchers at University College Los Angeles looked at the impact on rats of consuming fructose solution over a six-week period and identified those on a "fructose binge" and deprived of omega-3 fatty acids had declining synaptic activity.

Study lead Professor Fernando Gomez-Pinilla said: "Our findings illustrate that what you eat affects how you think. Eating a high-fructose diet over the long term alters your brain's ability to learn and remember information.

"We're not talking about naturally occurring fructose in fruits, which also contain important antioxidants - we're concerned about high-fructose corn syrup that is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and preservative."

The researchers did also find that the effects of fructose consumption could be balanced out by eating nuts and fish such as salmon which are high in omega-3 and it's being recommended these products are made a more common part of children's diets.

Prof Gomez-Pinilla concluded: "'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."

Posted 16/05/2012 by richard.hook@pavpub.com