Are Your Office Snacks Smart? New Study Shows Sugary Foods Can Damage Memory in Days

Posted by on Monday, December 16th, 2013 with Comments Off on Are Your Office Snacks Smart? New Study Shows Sugary Foods Can Damage Memory in Days Comments

Does your office keep a candy bowl in the break room, or bring in donuts for impromptu staff breakfasts? New evidence suggests you may not just be indulging your sweet tooth when you partake in sugary snacks at work: you might actually be harming your brain, and specifically your memory.

A recent study at the University of New South Wales in Sydney has generated new evidence that high-sugar diets can lead to memory loss, and much faster than previously thought. Researchers fed groups of rats distinct categories of diets, including some supplemented with sugar and fat. The resulting impact of the change was nearly immediate: rats who were fed high-sugar, high-fat diets experienced deterioration in memory and spatial recognition in less than a week.

office cabinet loaded with snacks

Is your office snack table bad for your brain? Image source: flickr user NateOne

These findings aren’t entirely new. Previous research has long shown that increased blood sugar levels can affect the functioning of the hippocampus, which is important for memory in both animals and humans. Up until now, however, the research has mostly focused on longer-term effects and how a lifetime of unhealthy eating can damage our memory. As Professor Margaret Morris, the new study’s co-author, tells the Sydney Morning Herald, “What is so surprising about this research is the speed with which the deterioration of the cognition occurred.”

When it comes to humans, especially in the workplace, the implications suggest that our office snacking habits can have an immediate effect on our memory. Especially during the holidays, when treats and cookies can run rampant, that’s a hard pill to swallow! Employers may offer sweet office snacks in the break room to boost spirits and even provide a “sugar rush” during a long day, but the truth is that those cookies and donuts could be hurting your team’s ability to work efficiently… and remember where they left their car keys.

doughnut with sprinkles

Sugary treats may lead to memory loss. Image source: flickr user bunchofpants

Of course, the answer is not to abstain from treats at work. Rather, snack smartly: provide a variety of break room fare, like nuts, vegetables, and hummus, or even a cheese tray for a special treat. Offer a fruit bowl rather than candy — fruit’s natural sugar, fructose, is metabolized quite differently than the sugar in most baked goods, and is a much better choice. In the morning, oatmeal and yogurt are healthier alternatives to pastries; however, look out for over-sweetened flavored varieties that can pack just as much sugar as a donut!

sliced vegetables and hummus

A healthier snack may equal smarter employees. Image source: flickr user SweetonVeg

If possible, go beyond snacks and provide another level of benefit to your staff. Serving catered lunches with an abundance of healthy options is a fantastic way to show appreciation for your staff, generate excitement in the workplace, and to encourage eating wholesome meals rather than mindless munching. has a wide range of delivery options to please every palate, and our Virtual Cafeteria Service makes providing high-quality office meals just as easy as bringing in a box of donuts.

And if you can’t bear to ditch the candy bowl, at least choose wisely: the flavonoids found in dark chocolate may make it the smartest sweet of them all.

When it comes to feeding employees and coworkers, make your company's food program really count! If your workplace dining plan needs to take it up a notch — or if you don't have one at all — is here to help. From Virtual Cafeteria Service to diverse menus to local takeout & offers customizable dining solutions for every business and budget. Contact us today to get started!

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