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Nutritionists And Americans Have Different Views On The Nutritional Value Of Common Foods

Nutritionists And Americans Have Different Views On The Nutritional Value Of Common Foods

French fries, bacon, chips, soda and chocolate bars are all poor food choices. We all know this. However, being able to decipher what is good for you and what isn’t–isn’t always so obvious. In fact, the New York Times recently published an article in which both average Americans and nutrition experts were polled on which of the 52 foods presented were good for you and which you should avoid. The results were all over the place. The general public’s views on which foods were healthy and which were not varied greatly from that of the experts on some food choices, but even more surprising was the fact that even the experts could not come to a consensus on quite a few food choices.

The public’s view of nutrient rich foods

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    The largest disparity uncovered by the poll was with granola bars. Are they healthy or not? Seventy-one percent of the public placed granola bars in the ‘nutrient rich foods’ category while only 28% of nutritionists did. Regular people tend to consider the nutritional value and fat content only when sorting foods into the ‘healthy’ and ‘unhealthy’ categories while food experts tend to have a broader perspective and include things like sugar and sodium content in their decisions.  And for that reason, coconut oil, frozen yogurt, SlimFast shakes and orange juice topped the general public’s list of healthy but barely made it on the list of the experts.

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      Foods like sushi, humus, wine and shrimp were deemed healthy by the experts but the survey showed that while most of the Americans polled saw them as somewhat healthy, overall, they didn’t rank them quite as high. This fact leads the polling experts to believe that the media plays an enormous role in how the general public makes their food choices. Shrimp, for example, has received its fair share of bad press due to its high levels of cholesterol. Modern media shapes public opinion on many things–including healthy eating.

      Disparities among the experts concerning nutrient rich foods

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        Experts opinions diverged the most when it came to steak, cheddar cheese, whole milk and pork chops. These are nutrient rich foods but the are high in saturated fat. Previously, it was common knowledge that fat–particularly saturated fat should be avoided at all costs. More recent studies render mixed views on the subject and experts are still grappling with the question if these food should be avoided or if they are indeed healthy.

        Choosing foods that are good for you

        The Federal Drug Administration(FDA) is currently updating its standards on which foods it deems healthy in light of new research concerning what our bodies need. This move underscores the notion that finding foods that are truly healthy is, at best, a moving target. Here are 3 easy things you can do to simplify the process of making healthy food choices and remove some of the frustrating guess work:

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        • Know your body and your own health needs. Understanding your health needs and choosing foods that work well with your body’s chemistry is key. Even though shrimp made the experts’ list of nutrient rich foods, if you have problems with cholesterol you may want to think twice before adding significant amounts of it to your diet. Being aware of your genetic makeup, the health history of your family, any predispositions to certain illnesses and your blood type all are key factors in how your body responds to and interacts with the foods you eat.
        • KISS–“Keep it simple silly.” This saying definitely applies when it comes to your diet. Don’t overthink it. There are a few (and I do mean few) rules that you should follow when it comes to what you put in your body. The first is the less processed the better. Eating foods in their natural state with minimal additions of chemicals and manipulation is always a good idea. The second hard and fast rule is eat your greens. No matter who you talk to, the message is the same, leafy greens are the way to go. Adding leafy greens to your diet will have positive impacts on your overall health.
        • Moderation is key. Eliminating entire food groups from your diet is never a good idea. Protein, complex carbohydrates and fats all play a role in keeping our bodies operating optimally. The key to healthy eating for both the body and the mind is to use moderation.

        Food fads come and go, but the facts are clear: everyone does not have the same basic nutritional needs. We all know someone who is a strict vegetarian and their body thrives on that diet, while others swear by Atkins or similar low-carb plans however, those types of diets may not work for you. Get to know yourself and tailor your diet to your own individual needs.

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        Last Updated on November 11, 2019

        How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

        How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

        Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

        To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

        Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

        1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

        Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

        Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

        To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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        2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

        Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

        If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

        Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

        3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

        Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

        Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

        4. Feed Your Brain

        Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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        This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

        Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

        Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

        5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

        According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

        Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

        Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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        6. Write it Down

        If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

        It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

        You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

        7. Listen to Music

        Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

        8. Visual Concepts

        In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

        Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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        Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

        9. Teach Someone Else

        Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

        Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

        10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

        Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

        So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

        Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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        Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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