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3 Foods You Didn’t Know You Need To Stay Away From To Lose Weight

3 Foods You Didn’t Know You Need To Stay Away From To Lose Weight

If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s easy to know the foods you’re “supposed” to stay away from. With donuts, pizza and soft drinks it’s pretty easy to understand why you shouldn’t have them, even if they might be hard to give up sometimes. But what about other foods that are sabotaging your efforts? The ones that don’t seem bad on the surface, but when you dive in, you find out how difficult they really can make weight loss.

Here are 3 foods you probably didn’t know you should stay away from if you’re looking to lose weight:

Granola and Granola Bars

Granola sounds great! The advertisements are stacked with adventurous people in the outdoors hiking and doing other athletic things — so it’s gotta be great, right?

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Well, not so fast!

Granola and granola bars tend to be stacked with sugar and usually turn out to be nothing more than very well-marketed candy bars. If your granola bar tastes “just like a candy bar,” it’s probably because it’s stacked with all the same ingredients as a candy bar and packed with calories.

If you’re outside trekking through the mountains, a granola here or there won’t kill you, but otherwise you might want to cut back a little (or a lot).

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Skim Milk

Got milk? I hope not!

Milk (especially skim milk) is massively insulinogenic. That’s a big word that means it spikes your insulin levels as soon as you consume it in order to keep your blood sugar level within a normal range.

So what do high insulin levels do? Here’s a good in-depth explanation, but put simply, they tell your body to switch from “fat-burning” mode to “carb-burning” mode and tell your body to store any extra glucose that your body doesn’t need as fat.

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Because most people’s diets consume more fuel than they need and because our foods are so high in sugar, there’s usually a lot of glucose left over that ends up being stored as fat. In the end, chronically high insulin levels promote weight gain, inhibit fat loss and are a pre-cursor to type 2 diabetes. And milk is one of the foods that causes the most dramatic spikes. Yikes!

Instead of a big tall glass of skim milk for breakfast, stick to water, tea or coffee for your breakfast drinks instead.

Potatoes

Potatoes are incredibly high on the glycemic index, which measures the effect a food will have on your blood sugar and corresponding insulin response. On the conservative side, potatoes are an 82 (for points of reference, sugar scores 100 and pizza is an 80).

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On top of that, they’re packed with calories (150+ per serving) and carbohydrates (37g and up) as well. Both of which, in excess, contribute to weight gain.

If you must eat potatoes, go for their much healthier cousin, the sweet potato, for preference (and only in moderation). However, if you want to keep things simple, the next time you make steak and potatoes, stay away from the spuds and add some greens on the side instead.

What other foods do people typically assume are healthy, but aren’t? Have your say in the comments.

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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