Fructose Can Help Increase Problem Solving Abilities

A study published in Journal of Psychopharmacology found consuming fructose may result in comparable cognitive abilities as glucose without raising blood sugar levels as much as glucose.

In a study entitled “Can you enhance executive control without glucose? The effects of fructose on problem solving”, authors Miller, Bourrasseau and Blampain tried to determine how glucose could enhance executive functioning as compared to fructose. Executive functioning is related to working memory, problem solving, attention and self-control.

In the study, 36 participants were randomly given a 25 g solution of glucose, fructose or a sucralose placebo and asked to wait 10 minutes before completing 15 different five-word anagrams. These anagrams were chosen because the type of problem solving necessary to solve the anagrams is believed to require executive functioning.

Results of the study were:

  • Consumption of fructose produced similar executive functioning as consumption of glucose with a comparable number of anagrams being solved by both groups.
  • Participants in the fructose and glucose groups were more likely to solve more problems than participants in the placebo group.
  • Glucose is the main source of energy for brain function, but fructose was shown to exhibit similar functioning while maintaining lower blood glucose levels.

According to Theresa Hedrick, a dietitian with the Calorie Control Council, this study provides support for the use of fructose.  “Fructose has a low glycemic index and results in moderate release of insulin to the bloodstream relative to glucose and sucrose.”

Miller, H. C., Bourrasseau, C., & Blampain, J. (2013). Can you enhance executive control without glucose? The effects of fructose on problem solving. Journal of Psychopharmacology, 27(7): 645-650.