Halloween Candy Alternatives That Won’t Scare Your Brain
What’s scarier than haunted houses, evil witches, ghouls, and vampires? Alzheimer’s disease and dementia with no cure or treatment!
There’s no denying that a lot of us look forward to Halloween candy when October 31st, rolls around each year. And with that wicked looming pandemic called COVID-19, you might partake in extra treats this year to make yourself feel better.
But remember, aside from tooth decay and diabetes, all those sweets may also impact your brain and increase the risk of dementia. Diabetologia published a 10-year longitudinal study that reported people with high blood sugar had a faster rate of cognitive decline than those with normal blood sugar. How terrifying is that? Hint: See the first paragraph about no cure or treatment for dementia.
Why Do We Love Sugar?
When we take part in activities that make us feel good, such as eating sweets, neurons release dopamine as part of the brain’s reward system. This feel-good neurotransmitter is activated each time we eat sweets reinforcing the behavior and making us crave more of them to get that same rewarding feeling.
While the brain’s primary source of fuel is from glucose, a form of sugar, too much of it has negative effects. The World Health Organization recommends 25 grams or six teaspoons of added sugars a day, which is five percent of our daily calorie intake – a strip of milk chocolate has an average of 9 grams of sugar.
Non-Creepy Healthy Alternatives
One of the preventative measures for dementia is a healthy diet. To help lower your sugar intake for a healthier brain, we’ve put together some non-creepy alternatives to Halloween candy. Instead of a chocolate bar candy, what about dark chocolate as a substitute? It’s no trick!
Not only will dark chocolate soothe that sweet tooth craving, but it’s good for brain health! Imagine that! The flavonoids and antioxidants in dark chocolate with higher cocoa content protect cognitive function and lower the risk of dementia. It also contains minerals such as magnesium which help the brain relax and sleep better.
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If these alternatives don’t suit your fancy, here are a few other suggestions:
- Choose reduced sugar or sugar-free treats
- Reduce sizes of sweets – try a mini instead of a regular bar
- Control portions – instead of three candies have one
- Give non-candy alternatives such as stickers, glow sticks, crayons
- Make your own homemade treats – control the sugar and the ingredients
We wish we could perform a hocus pocus spell or wave a magic wand to find an immediate dementia cure, but until that happens (we will have to rely on clinical trials for a future cure!), let’s continue the fight, take care of your brain, and maintain a healthy lifestyle!
Have a Spooktacular Brain-Healthy Halloween!
Zheng, F., Yan, L., Yang, Z. et al. HbA1c. (2018). Diabetes and cognitive decline: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. Diabetologia 61, 839–848. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00125-017-4541-7
Guideline: sugars intake for adults and children. (2015, March 4). World Health Organization. Retrieved from https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/9789241549028
Heid, M. (2014, October 14). Your Brain On: Halloween Candy. Shape. Retrieved from https://www.shape.com/healthy-eating/your-brain-halloween-candy
Reichelt, A. (2019, November 14). Your brain on sugar: What the science actually says. The Conversation. Retrieved from https://theconversation.com/your-brain-on-sugar-what-the-science-actually-says-126581
Shmerling, R.H., (2017, August 16). Your brain on chocolate. Harvard Health Publishing Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/your-brain-on-chocolate-2017081612179