Ice Cream for Breakfast? Study Says It Can Make You Smarter


Ice cream lovers rejoice! Eating the delicious, cold treat first thing in the morning might actually make you smarter, according to a new Japanese study.

Researchers found that eating ice cream for breakfast could improve a person’s alertness and mental performance throughout the day.

Flickr Image Courtesy: yaybiscuits123, CC BY-SA 2.0
Flickr Image Courtesy: yaybiscuits123, CC BY-SA 2.0

Yoshihiko Koga, a professor at Tokyo’s Kyorin University, conducted a series of clinical trials, where test subjects were asked to eat ice cream immediately after waking up. They then had to complete a sequence of mental exercises on a computer, the Telegraph reported.

The volunteers who ate ice cream for breakfast exhibited faster reaction times and better information processing capabilities. By monitoring their brain activity, Professor Koga found that the volunteers who ate ice cream had an increase in high-frequency alpha wave, which suggests higher levels of alertness and reduced mental irritation.

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To determine if the volunteers’ reactions were a result of the brain being shocked into alertness by the cold temperature of ice cream, Professor Koga tried the same experiment with cold water.

The test subjects who drank cold water in the morning did see an increase in alertness and mental capacity. However, the levels were significantly lower than those participants that started their day with a bowl of ice cream.

Professor Koga is continuing his research, and has yet to make a solid connection between the mental boost from ice cream and a specific ingredient.

Credit: Science Channel/YouTube
Credit: Science Channel/YouTube

Some nutrition experts have some reservations about Professor Koga’s findings.

“A possible explanation [for increased alertness]… is the simple presence of consuming breakfast vs. not consuming breakfast,” Katie Barfoot, a Nutritional Psychology Doctoral Researcher at Reading University told the Telegraph. “Our brain needs glucose to function, and a high glucose meal will aid mental capacity considerably compared to a fasted brain.”

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Barfoot stressed that this study does not give people the green light to eat dessert for breakfast. However, Barfoot said, a study that looks at the connection between consumption of food on the low and high end of the glycemic index, while including a group that fasted, would help with better understanding the increased mental capacity.

Many other nutritionists advocate for a healthy, balanced breakfast.

“In general, a healthy breakfast contains protein, fruits, whole grains, or vegetables,” Ruth Frechman, MA, RDN, CPT, nutritionist and author of ‘The Food is My Friend Diet’ told Business Insider.

In contrast, a 2012 study suggests that eating chocolate cake for breakfast may help you lose weight. The study found that people who had a low calorie breakfast ended up still craving sweets and were more likely to cheat on their diets, whereas people who indulged in dessert in the morning were able to curb their cravings throughout the day and had more time to burn those calories off.

Danielle Tarasiuk
Danielle Tarasiuk is a multimedia journalist based in Los Angeles. Her work has been published on, Yahoo! Sports, KCET, and NPR-affiliate stations KPCC and KCRW. She’s a proud Sarah Lawrence College and USC Annenberg alumn.