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Warning: This information may be quite troubling to any parent who wants their kids to do well in school.

656036-zak-hemmerling-tips-sugar-out-of-fruit-loops-cereal-boxParents have good reason to worry about the sugar content of children’s breakfast cereals, according to an Environmental Working Group review of 84 popular brands.

Kellogg’s Honey Smacks, at nearly 56 percent sugar by weight, leads the list of high-sugar cereals, according to EWG’s analysis. A one-cup serving of Honey Smacks packs more sugar than a Hostess Twinkie, and one cup of any of 44 other children’s cereals has more sugar than three Chips Ahoy! cookies.

Most children’s cereals fail to meet the federal government’s proposed voluntary guidelines for foods nutritious enough to be marketed to children. Sugar is the top problem, but many also contain too much sodium or fat or not enough whole grain.

The bottom line: Most parents say no to dessert for breakfast, but many children’s cereals have just as much sugar as a dessert– or more. The best simple-to-prepare breakfasts for children are fresh fruit and high-fiber, lower-sugar cereals. Better yet, pair that fruit with homemade oatmeal.

Processed food may lead to lower school results for US kids, study says

Published December 22, 2014 Reuters

Eating fast and processed food may lead to lower student test scores in math, science and reading, a recent study of U.S. school children said. A survey showed that fast-food consumption by 8,544 fifth-graders forecast lower academic achievement in eighth grade, according to the study published in Clinical Pediatrics. “These results provide initial evidence that fast-food consumption is associated with deleterious academic outcomes among children,” the study by Ohio State University and University of Texas researchers said.

In terms of growth in achievement, the researchers found that eighth-graders who ate fast food daily were behind those who ate no fast food by four points in reading. They were behind by three points in math and four points in science. The results may be caused by lower levels of nutrients in fast foods, especially iron. The high level of fat and sugar often found in fast-food meals also can affect attention and reaction times, the report said.

Lower IQ Scores

A Bristol University study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health demonstrated a link between the consumption of processed foods before the age of 3 and lower IQ scores at the age of 8. The long-term study looked at all aspects of children’s lives, including lifestyle and genetics. In the eight-year research period, Dr. Pauline Emmett and Dr. Kate Northstone asked parents to report on their child’s diet at age 3, 4, 7, and 8 years old. The findings showed that the children who consumed the most processed foods at the age of 3 were on average five IQ points behind their healthier eating peers by the time they turned 8.

Is Fat Really Good for My Brain?

Yes! Believe it or not, our brains are composed of 60 percent fat. That being the case, it should come as no surprise that our brains need fat to work correctly. And even though the brain accounts for such a small portion of our bodyweight, it utilizes 20 percent of the body’s metabolic energy.

Good nutrition in general is key to maintaining a healthy brain (and keeping the rest of you healthy!). In fact, studies show that nutrition affects brain development and function throughout our lives. Fueling your brain with fat, in particular, encourages ketosis, which provides energy to the brain and helps protect against brain diseases, among other health benefits. A diet high in monounsaturated fats can also increase production of acetylcholine, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in learning and memory.

Plant-based and animal sources of Omega-3 acidsTop 3 Dietary Fats for Your Mind and Body

1. Polyunsaturated Fat
Polyunsaturated fats contain the essential fatty acids (EFAs) omega-3 and omega-6. Our brains need these fats to function properly (studies also show that eating high quantities of omega-3 fatty acids are linked to reduced rates of major depression, but our bodies are unable to produce them. This means it’s important that we include these fat sources in our diets.

2. DHA
An omega-3 fatty acid, DHA has been shown to help brain functions like memory, speaking ability, and motor skills. Increasing dietary levels of omega-3s has been shown to help improve conditions such as depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD.

3. Saturated Fat
Saturated fat is actually one of the main components of brain cells, and is therefore necessary for healthy brain function. In one study, it was found that people who ate more saturated fat reduced their risk for developing dementia by 36 percent. Saturated fat also provides benefits for the liver and immune system and helps maintain proper hormone balance.

Five Foods That Have Good Fat:

Avocado: Promotes Healthy Blood Flow

Nuts: Protects Against Cognitive Decline

Eggs: Boost Memory Skills

Olive Oil: Improve Memory

Coconut Oil: Regenerates Nerve Endings in Your Brain