Consuming too many sweet drinks, doughnuts and chocolate bars may lead not only to a belly bulge but also to a sour mood. After accounting for confounding factors like socio-economic status, body weight and smoking, researchers from University College London found a link between high sugar intake and mental conditions like depression and anxiety in men, according to research published in the July 2017 edition of Scientific Reports.

Guys who ate the most sweet stuff (more than 67 grams of sugar a day) had a 23% higher chance of suffering a common mental disorder after 5 years than those who consumed the least sugar (less than 39.5 g a day). It’s unclear why an extra-sweet diet did not raise the risk for mood disorders in women to the same degree.

A daily menu with less added sugar is likely to be richer in less-processed foods that supply nutrients needed to bolster brain health. To help turn a frown upside down, try eating more home cooking, swap out sugary drinks for unsweetened options, and carefully read ingredient lists on everything from cereal to tomato sauce to make your diet less saccharine.

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD

Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, is a James Beard Award–winning food journalist, dietitian and author of the cookbook Rocket Fuel: Power-Packed Food for Sport + Adventure (VeloPress 2016). He has written for dozens of magazines, including Runner’s World, Men’s Health, Shape, Men’s Fitness and Muscle and Fitness.

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