Sugar sweet: The Benefits of Natural Sugar

. Posted in Mind & Body

Watch the Video with Dr. Talitha Best here:

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Including sugar in your daily diet can help your memory and improve your mood, according to a South Australian researcher. But before the sweet-tooths of the world start celebrating, note that we’re not talking about the sugars in your favourite lollies!

The sweet benefits can only be found in plant sugars in plants such as aloe vera, larch, legumes, artichokes, mushrooms, some broccolis and seaweeds. Dr Best, from the University of South Australia, has been researching the impact of different plant sugars on how people think, feel and their overall memory and mood. Her studies have found that healthy adults between 45 and 60 think and perform memory tasks better after taking different types of plant sugars, also known as polysaccharides. And what’s more, they also experienced better overall mood and reported that they felt more able to deal with everyday stress.

“The idea that a simple dietary intervention can maintain brain function as you are getting older is very exciting,” says Dr Best.

“In a number of studies we’ve shown that the plant saccharides are related to better memory performance and mood. In particular, after 12 weeks participants showed increased learning and recall of information - and better mood. For example, they were more successful in remembering words from a shopping list or sequences of information.”


Eat your veggies

The message from the findings, Dr Best says, is to eat a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Don’t just have your usual greens like beans or broccoli but add things like mushrooms, spinach and different types of cabbage when in season. She would also like to see some of the “forgotten” vegetables such as artichokes and legumes make a return.

Don’t eat enough greens?

If you’re not eating enough fruit and vegetables, Dr Best says you can get the benefits of plant sugars from dietary supplements.

“Obviously I would love to see everyone eat a range of vegetable and raw fruit on a daily basis, but I know that is not reality.“

As part of her research, Dr Best is working with Mannatech Australia Proprietary Limited, which has patented commercially available plant polysaccharide-based supplements.

“I’d like to further develop knowledge around polysaccharides for Mannatech but more importantly, to further the application of this research for Australian health: To make a clear, sustainable connection between the research and industry sectors to develop new ideas, increase competitiveness in business and distribute knowledge and health messages to the Australian public.”