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No More Unhealthy Snacks: Try These Tasty Alternatives

No More Unhealthy Snacks: Try These Tasty Alternatives

Snacks. Whether it is ice cream, cookies, or cupcakes, most of us find it hard to say no to these irresistible goodies.

Unfortunately, too much snacking can cause health problems in the long term because of their high sugar content. Some people have chosen artificial sweeteners, like sucralose and aspartame, to avoid sugar. In theory, it sounds like a good idea. Sucralose and aspartame appear to be a healthier option than granulated sugar, but unfortunately, these sweeteners do more harm than good.

Did you know that sucralose reduces good gut bacteria, releases toxins, and links to type 2 diabetes?

Did you know that aspartame is linked to at least 90 symptoms, including headaches and memory loss?

There are some people who do not consume artificial sweeteners and believe that they are healthier for that reason alone. Unfortunately, most of these people are unaware of the amounts of sugar that exist in many products that they consume on a daily basis. For example, ketchup and salad dressing both have heavy amounts of sugar. For some people, condiments do not appear to raise any fears because they will argue that only small amounts of it are used. The problem is that they do not consider how often they use those condiments in their meals on a daily basis.

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It is even worse when these same people also indulge in the typical type of snacks like cookies, cupcakes, ice cream, and pies.

Consuming large amounts of sugar on a daily basis can lead to diabetes and other health problems in the long term. So, how can a person snack in a healthier manner? Consider these healthy snacks when you have the urge to munch on something between meals.

1. Cranberries with almonds

This snack choice can be prepared in seconds. Throw them both in a bowl and enjoy. Cranberries and almonds provide a great combination of nuttiness, sweetness, and crunchiness to the consumer.

Almonds are high in protein and low in carbohydrates, while cranberries are high in antioxidants and low in sugar.

If you are not a fan of almonds, you can substitute it with sunflower seeds. They are high in protein too.

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2. Boiled eggs with coconut flakes

Many people think that eggs should be reserved for breakfast. Unless you are a person who eats a lot of eggs, you might actually be open to the idea of having it as a snack.

Boiled eggs are not typically appealing, especially eaten alone. However, coconut flakes really makes the difference. Adding a teaspoon of coconut flakes with each small bite makes it a tasty treat.

Both eggs and coconuts are excellent sources of essential fatty acids (EFAs). Furthermore,  eggs are a good source of protein (6 grams per egg), while coconuts are a source of Vitamin E, Vitamin K, and iron.

3. 100% cocoa with honey

Chocolate. Almost everyone loves it. Although, many people love chocolate because of the added sugar.

There is an ever-growing amount of stores that sell chocolate with higher cocoa content and less sugar. While it may be difficult, it is not impossible to find 100% cocoa. You can buy it online or from a specialty store.

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Cocoa is high in antioxidants, while honey has small amount of B vitamins and minerals. Honey has also been known to improve memory, boost energy, and reduce seasonal allergies. This is why I recommend honey over regular sugar. Although, I would suggest limiting the honey to one tablespoon since a tablespoon of honey equals to 12 grams of sugar. Two ounces of cocoa with a tablespoon of honey should be adequate for a snack.

4. Pumpkin seeds with sea salt

When most people think of pumpkins, they think of pumpkin pie. However, there is more to a pumpkin than pie. Pumpkin seeds are a rich source of zinc, alpha-linolenic acid (a plant-based omega 3), and manganese. They have also been known to lower blood sugar levels.

Often, when you buy pumpkin seeds, many of the packaged products are already salted with table salt. I would recommend buying unsalted pumpkin seeds and adding sea salt to them. Sea salt has 50+ trace minerals and is not as processed as table salt. While both salts contain iodine (a necessary mineral), table salt is heavily processed, leaving the salt without many of its initial nutrients.

5. Granola

Granola is still one of the most popular snack foods. It is a healthier alternative to cookies, cupcakes, and ice cream. There are many granola products that can be found in dozens of grocery stores. Although, it is better to make your own granola to avoid the processed counterparts, which contain preservatives and unnatural sweeteners.

It is also ideal because you get to choose which fruits, nuts and seeds that you want in your granola.

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Most fruits, nuts and seeds are abundant in nutrients but you still need to be mindful of the sugar content. That is why it is best to create a granola mix that is low in fructose sugar and carbohydrates.

The final word

I am not saying that sugar is the enemy. It is only the enemy when we eat too much of it. I am only advocating that people become more conscious about their daily consumption of it. If you want to avoid it altogether, eating more protein will dramatically reduce your sugar cravings.

If you want more healthy snack ideas, tune in to The Bright Side or seek nutritional counseling from a holistic health clinic like Fox Integrated Healthcare.

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Kallen Diggs

Bestselling Author / Magazine Editor / Syndicated Radio Show Host

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Last Updated on February 21, 2019

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Top 9 Foods for Incredible Brian Health And Brain Power

Your brain is the most intricate and powerful organ in your entire body. It’s essentially a super-computer with brain power like a Ferrari.

If you have a Ferrari, would you put cheap gasoline in it? Of course not. You want to put in high-octane performance fuel to get the most out of your investment.

When it comes to the brain, many people are looking for the top foods that will supercharge the brainpower to help focus better, think more clearly and have better brain health.

In this article, we’ll look at the top 9 brain foods that will help create supercharge your brain with energy and health:

1. Salmon

Salmon has long been held as a healthy brain food, but what makes this fish so valuable for your brain health?

It’s important to understand that your brain is primarily made up of fat. Roughly 60% of your brain is fat. One of the most important fats that the brain uses as a building block for healthy brain cells is omega-3’s.

Omega-3’s are essential for building a healthy brain but one of the most important omega-3’s for your brain is DHA. DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) forms nearly two-thirds of the omega-3’s found in your brain.[1]

Omega-3’s and DHA in particular help form the protective coating around our neurons. The better quality this coating is, the more efficient and effective our brain cells can work, allowing our brain power to work at full capacity.

Studies have shown that being deficient in DHA can affect normal brain development in children, which is why so many infant formulas and children’s supplements are beginning to include DHA.

Being deficient in DHA as an adult can cause focus and attention problems, mood swings, irritability, fatigue and poor sleep.

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2. Blueberries

Blueberries top the list as one of the most beneficial fruits to maximize your brain health and performance.

Blueberries have some of the highest content of antioxidants, particularly anthocyanins, than any other fruit, which helps protect the brain from stress and promote healthy brain aging.

Blueberries antioxidant content also help reduce inflammation, which allows the brain to maintain healthy energy levels.

Blueberries have begun to receive attention for their connection to brain performance.[2] Studies have demonstrated that eating blueberries on a regular basis can not only improve brain health but also brain performance as well including working memory.[3]

Blueberries not only taste great but are low in calories, high in Vitamin C, Vitamin K and Manganese.

3. Turmeric

Turmeric is a very impressive spice that has well-researched and proven to have tremendous benefits for your brain. Turmeric’s main compound that benefits the brain is called curcumin, which is responsible for turmerics bright yellow appearance.

Curcumin has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.[4]

Curcumin increases the production and availability of two important neurotransmitters serotonin and dopamine, two important neurotransmitters involved with happiness, motivation, pleasure, and reward.

Curcumin has been well documented to have powerful anti-depressive effects. In one study, it was found to be as effective for depression as popular medications such as SSRI’s like Prozac.[5]

Curcumin has also been shown to:

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  • Increase blood flow to the brain.[6]
  • Increase BDNF production, a powerful stimulator of neuroplasticity.[7]
  • Increase DHA availability and synthesis in the brain.[8]
  • Increase antioxidant levels in the brain to prevent brain aging and inflammation.[9]

4. Coffee

Coffee is the wonderful elixir of energy that many people cherish every single morning. The biggest reason people drink coffee is to get a dose of caffeine.

Caffeine is a natural neurological stimulant that not only gives you energy but also prevents adenosine, a neurotransmitter involved with feeling tired, from binding in the brain.

Many people are surprised to find that coffee actually contains a large quantity of antioxidants called polyphenols, which are important for reducing inflammation in the brain and keep your brain energized. The antioxidants in coffee also provide a neuroprotective effect, protecting the brain from stress and damage. [R]

Coffee can also:

  • Improve alertness and concentration.[10]
  • Help with neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s disease.[11]
  • Reduce your risk of depression.[12]
  • Improve your memory.
  • Provide short-term boost in athletic performance.[13]

5. Broccoli

What was your least favorite food as a kid growing up?

Most likely, broccoli was your answer.

Broccoli may not have been your top choice, but it might be the top choice for your brain.

Broccoli contains a compound called sulforaphane. Sulforaphane has been shown to promote the proliferation and survival of brain cells by reducing inflammation and boosting production of BDNF. It has also been shown to boost neurogenesis, the production of new brain cells.[14]

Broccoli is also loaded with important nutrients Vitamin K and Folate. Vitamin K plays a vital role in protecting brain cells.[15] Folate plays a crucial role in detoxification and reducing inflammation in the brain.

6. Bone broth

Bone broth wasn’t just created to combine with soups, you can actually drink bone broth by itself.

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Drinking bone broth has become one of the biggest trends in the health and wellness industry and for good reason. Bone broth isn’t actually a new thing. Bone broth has been used for centuries as a healing tonic to promote health and longevity.

Much of the nutritional benefits and value of bone broth comes from its substantial vitamin and mineral content. Primarily calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium.

Your gut is called your second brain for a reason. Research continually shows that there is a direct and indirect connection between your gut and your brain. Your gut also houses and stores many important brain compounds involved with optimal brain performance. Therefore the health of your gut is vitally important for your brain health and performance.

Bone broth has become a go-to tool for helping heal the gut and provide the gut with the vital nutrient and resources it needs to heal and perform optimally.

With the vast amounts of nutrients that bone broth contains, it makes the list as a go-to food for your brain health.

Look for high quality, organic bone broth for the best results.

7. Walnuts

Walnuts are one of the top choices of nuts for brain health. Walnuts also look similar to a brain.

Amongst the wide variety of nuts available, walnuts contain the highest amounts of the important omega-3 DHA. DHA, as seen above, is a critical building block for a healthy brain.

Walnuts also contain high amounts of antioxidants, folate, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, which help to lower inflammation.

Melatonin in walnuts is an important nutrient for regulating your sleep. Having low amounts of melatonin can make it challenging to get good quality sleep and getting poor quality sleep can dramatically impair brain health and performance.

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8. Eggs

For years, eggs were put on the nutritional naughty list; but now, eggs are finally getting the credit they deserve. Eggs can provide a tremendous boost to your brain health and longevity.

Eggs, particularly the yolks, contain a compound called choline. Choline is essential for building the neurotransmitter acetylcholine. Acetylcholine plays an important role in mood, memory, and intelligence.

Egg yolks contain some of the highest quantities of choline. This is very important because low levels of choline can lead to low levels of acetylcholine, which in turn can cause increased inflammation, brain fog, difficulty concentrating and fatigue.

9. Dark chocolate

You’re about to love chocolate even more because chocolate, particularly dark chocolate, is great for your brain.

Chocolate boosts levels of endorphins, your brains “feel good” chemicals. This is why you feel so good eating chocolate.[16]

Chocolate also increases blood flow to the brain which can help improve memory, attention, focus, and reaction time.[17]

Dark chocolate contains high levels of magnesium, which has been coined “natures valium” for its ability to calm and relax the brain.

Lastly, dark chocolate has one of the highest antioxidant profiles out of any other food, including popular superfoods like acai berries, blueberries, or pomegranates.[18]

Conclusion

Your brain is a high performing organ and it uses quite a lot of energy, roughly 20% of the bodies energy demands.

In order to maintain a healthy brain, you need the right fuel to ensure that your brain has all the nutrients it needs to perform as well as adapt to the stress of life.

If you want to keep your brain performing well for a lifetime, then you want to make sure you are including as many of these brain health foods as possible.

More Resources About Boosting Brain Power

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: DHA Effects in Brain Development and Function
[2] Canadian Science Publishing: Enhanced task-related brain activation and resting perfusion in healthy older adults after chronic blueberry supplementation
[3] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Cognitive effects following acute wild blueberry supplementation in 7- to 10-year-old children.
[4] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin: the Indian solid gold.
[5] Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.: Turmeric, the Golden Spice
[6] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effect of combined treatment with curcumin and candesartan on ischemic brain damage in mice.
[7] Science Direct: Curcumin reverses the effects of chronic stress on behavior, the HPA axis, BDNF expression and phosphorylation of CREB
[8] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Curcumin boosts DHA in the brain: Implications for the prevention of anxiety disorders.
[9] PLOS: A Chemical Analog of Curcumin as an Improved Inhibitor of Amyloid Abeta Oligomerization
[10] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of Caffeine on Cognitive Performance, Mood, and Alertness in Sleep-Deprived Humans
[11] American Academy of Neurology: A Cup of Joe May Help Some Parkinson’s Disease Symptoms
[12] American Academy of Neurology: AAN 65th Annual Meeting Abstract
[13] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Effects of caffeine on the metabolic and catecholamine responses to exercise in 5 and 28 degrees C.
[14] US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health: Hyperammonemia induces glial activation, neuroinflammation and alters neurotransmitter receptors in hippocampus, impairing spatial learning: reversal by sulforaphane
[15] Oxford Academic: Vitamin K and the Nervous System: An Overview of its Actions
[16] Diana L. Walcutt, Ph.D: Chocolate and Mood Disorders
[17] Health Magazine: Chocolate can do good things for your heart, skin and brain
[18] Chemistry Central Journal: Cacao seeds are a “Super Fruit”: A comparative analysis of various fruit powders and products

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