Latest research conducted by UCLA reveals that there is a definite link between what we eat and how we think. Thus, your intake of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) might be altering your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. This study, published in the Journal of Physiology, shows that besides being linked to obesity and diabetes, too much HFCS can also harm the brain.

Even if you avoid soda and candy, HFCS is sneakily present in items you would least suspect: such as instant oatmeal, bread, packaged juice, and ketchup. HFCS is added to manufactured food products as a sweetener and a powerful preservative. Studies show that the average American ingests around 35 pounds of it, per year. Don’t confuse this with the naturally occurring fructose in fruit, which also contains important antioxidants. Instead of eating sugary treats, you should opt for fresh fruit.

In order to protect your brain, Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, PhD, a professor of neurosurgery and integrative biology and physiology at UCLA, advises eating a lot of omega-3–rich food like eggs from pastured hens, wild-caught Alaskan salmon, flaxseed, and walnut. These foods contain DHA, which protects against the damage to brain synapses, which support memory and learning.

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