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Is Pho Healthy or Not? Will I Gain Weight If I Have It Often?

Is Pho Healthy or Not? Will I Gain Weight If I Have It Often?

A warm bowl of pho soup is everyone’s favorite these days. Made with a blend of broth, meat, rice noodles, and topped with vegetables, pho has it all from a nutritional standpoint. But there’s also talk about pho being unhealthy due to its high sodium content and that it was even fattening. Whether pho is good or bad for you depends on the specific recipe, your choice of condiments, and portion size.

Many of us tend to go overboard with our portion sizes when given a variety of options of meat, veggies etc.

Most of us have had their first bowl pho at our local Vietnamese restaurants where customers are given a variety of options of meat, veggies, serving size, and condiments. No wonder, so many of us tend to go overboard with our portion sizes with that much freedom available. You’ve probably asked yourself at one point is pho healthy and will it ruin your waistline?[1] This is especially true if you eat pho on an almost daily basis and feel guilty about it. Another thing that may make you feel weary about pho is that you don’t see this traditionally Vietnamese dish being recommended as a weight-loss and health promoting option. Instead, you are more likely to hear pho referred to as an unhealthy fast-food or street-food.

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Hearing talk of pho being one of those unhealthy restaurant meals can kill all the fun around this popular noodle soup. Well, we’re here to tell you that pho can be a big part of even the best diet plan if you eat it moderately and if you customize it wisely.[2] On the downside, many low-quality restaurant versions tend to be high in saturated fat and sodium, so this can get a bit tricky. Studies show that too much fat in your diet can lead to weight gain, a higher risk of diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.[3] Furthermore, too much sodium in your daily diet can cause hypertension and damage your heart, kidneys, and blood vessels.

Pho is healthy only when…

While pho may come with its downsides, you can customize this delicious Vietnamese dish to make it more healthful. Compared to other fast-food dishes, a small serving of pho is quite balanced in nutrients and pretty low in calories. For instance, an appetizer serving size of chicken pho contains only 162 calories.[4] Of this, 32% of the calories come from fat, 32% come from carbohydrates, and 36% of the calories in one cup of pho come from protein. On the other hand, a meal-sized portion of pho may provide up to 400 calories which are only 20% of the recommended daily intake of calories.

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As you can see, good quality pho isn’t the highly fattening fast food it was made up to be. This is especially true with pho that was made using traditional methods. Traditionally, pho was made by cooking beef bones or chicken for a very long time, and the excess fat at the top was removed. Restaurant versions may skip this last step, but high-end restaurants make it a priority to make their meals healthy and delicious. But other than providing you with a modest number of calories, pho is also great for meeting your vitamin and mineral needs. Pho is rich in vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Depending on how much veggies you like to include, you can also get plenty of fiber from your bowl of pho.

How to make your pho healthful

Enjoying pho and getting plenty of health benefits with it is possible is you make the right decisions. First, it is best to look for a Vietnamese restaurant serving traditional pho instead of the fast-food version. As we’ve already explained, some restaurants skip skimming the excess fat from their pho broth making for an unhealthier soup version. Secondly, when customizing your pho at your favorite restaurant, be careful no tot go overboard with certain ingredients. Too much rice noodles will cause a spike in your blood glucose and make a meal fattening. Similarly, adding more than your fair share of meat cuts to your bowl of pho will pack on the extra calories. Instead, be generous with vegetable topping when customizing your pho. Veggies like bean sprouts, jalapenos, and onions will control your blood glucose levels, and their fiber content will keep you feeling full.

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But other than customizing your pho bowl to suit your health-conscious lifestyle, why not play it safe and make a homemade version instead? While Pho is traditionally made over the course of one to two days, there are plenty pho recipes requiring just a fraction of that time. With homemade pho, you get to have more control over the amount of fat, protein, and carbs you consume with each portion. We suggest opting for homemade chicken pho because chicken is leaner than beef.

We also suggest being moderate with condiments like soy sauce and siracha sauce. While these sauces help make pho taste great, they are very high in sodium. Restaurant versions also tend to go overboard with the sodium in pho to make it more palatable. But as already explained, this practice can be dangerous for your overall health. Instead, add only a tiny bit of sauces and salt to your pho, just enough to remove any blandness. You can also be playful with your topping and add spring onions or broccoli even. Make sure to read about low-calorie foods and benefits of broccoli before making your homemade pho.[5]

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Whether or not pho is healthy varies greatly from one version to the other. Traditional pho served with skimmed broth, a moderate serving of noodles, a tiny bit of sauce, and a generous helping of veggies is nutritious and possibly healthy. On the other hand, fast-food versions packed in sodium and saturated fat may not be the best choice for a daily meal. To get around this problem, pho lovers can customize their bowls by adding more veggies, being skimpy with condiments, and adding noodles moderately.

Featured photo credit: KQED via google.com

Reference

[1] Healthy Dining Finder: What’s the Best Pho to Order?
[2] Consumer Health Digest: Best Diet Plan: 6 Ways to Choose an Effective Diet Plan
[3] Guldstrand, M. C., & Simberg, C. L.: High-fat diets: healthy or unhealthy?
[4] Fat Secret: Chicken pho
[5] Consumer Health Digest: List of Low Calorie Foods

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Last Updated on June 20, 2019

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

Science Says Guitar Players’ Brains Are Different From Others’

There’s nothing quite like picking up a guitar and strumming out some chords. Listening to someone playing the guitar can be mesmerising, it can evoke emotion and a good guitar riff can bring out the best of a song. Many guitar players find a soothing, meditative quality to playing, along with the essence of creating music or busting out an acoustic version of their favourite song. But how does playing the guitar affect the brain?

More and more scientific studies have been looking into how people who play the guitar have different brain functions compared to those who don’t. What they found was quite astonishing and backed up what many guitarists may instinctively know deep down.

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Guitar Players’ Brains Can Synchronise

You didn’t read that wrong! Yes, a 2012 study[1] was conducted in Berlin that looked at the brains of guitar players. The researchers took 12 pairs of players and got them to play the same piece of music while having their brains scanned.

During the experiment, they found something extraordinary happening to each pair of participants – their brains were synchronising with each other. So what does this mean? Well, the neural networks found in the areas of the brain associated with social cognition and music production were most activated when the participants were playing their instruments. In other words, their ability to connect with each other while playing music was exceptionally strong.

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Guitar Players Have a Higher Intuition

Intuition is described as “the ability to understand something instinctively, without the need for conscious reasoning” and this is exactly what’s happening when two people are playing the guitar together.

The ability to synchronise their brains with each other, stems from this developed intuitive talent indicating that guitar players have a definite spiritual dexterity to them. Not only do their brains synchronise with another player, but they can also even anticipate what is to come before and after a set of chords without consciously knowing. This explains witnessing a certain ‘chemistry’ between players in a band and why many bands include brothers who may have an even stronger connection.

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This phenomenon is actually thought to be down to the way guitarists learn how to play – while many musicians learn through reading sheet music, guitar players learn more from listening to others play and feeling their way through the chords. This also shows guitarists have exceptional improvisational skills[2] and quick thinking.

Guitar Players Use More of Their Creative, Unconscious Brain

The same study carried out a different experiment, this time while solo guitarists were shredding. They found that experienced guitar players were found to deactivate the conscious part of their brain extremely easily meaning they were able to activate the unconscious, creative and less practical way of thinking more efficiently.

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This particular area of the brain – the right temporoparietal junction – typically deactivates with ‘long term goal orientation’ in order to stop distractions to get goals accomplished. This was in contrast to the non-guitarists who were unable to shut off the conscious part of their brain which meant they were consciously thinking more about what they were playing.

This isn’t to say that this unconscious way of playing can’t be learnt. Since the brain’s plasticity allows new connections to be made depending on repeated practice, the guitar player’s brain can be developed over time but it’s something about playing the guitar in particular that allows this magic to happen.

Conclusion

While we all know musicians have very quick and creative brains, it seems guitar players have that extra special something. Call it heightened intuition or even a spiritual element – either way, it’s proven that guitarists are an exceptional breed unto themselves!

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Featured photo credit: Lechon Kirb via unsplash.com

Reference

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