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6 So-Called Healthy Foods That Are Definitely Unhealthy

6 So-Called Healthy Foods That Are Definitely Unhealthy

Getting healthy is worthwhile and beneficial, and should be something everyone considers. However, because health is important to us, it’s also something that is easy to take advantage of. In today’s world of buzzwords, clever marketing, and package design, it’s important to know exactly how ingredients actually interact with your body. Knowing what to look for on the nutrition label will make it easy to deduct whether something is healthy, or just looks healthy. The biggest offenders are usually sugar and trans fats, and even products we think are healthy can be laden with them. Despite public perception, these 6 products are some of the most common ones to erroneously be labeled as helpful. 

1. Sports Drinks/Vitamin Drinks

While sports drinks and similarly vitamin “boosted” beverages claim to be healthy food, any health benefits are largely offset by the large quantity of sugar in these drinks. Yes, sports drinks replenish certain minerals lost during exercise, however they’re positively loaded with sugar. The average person working out, and even more casual athletes, are likely eating enough sugar in their day naturally as it is. For example, 240mL/8oz of Gatorade contains 14 grams sugar. Since the standard bottle size is 32oz, one bottle of Gatorade equals a whopping 56 grams of sugar. The average person only needs 25 to 40 grams of sugar a day. To put that in perspective, an average sized apple contains 10 grams sugar. This means if you’re an active person eating three or four servings of fruit a day, the fruit in your diet fulfills your daily amount of needed sugar. If you’re concerned about minerals lost during workouts or being low on electrolytes, running and fitness stores sell many electrolyte powders that you mix with water, most of which do not contain sugar. 

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2. Acai Berries

Superfood trends are easy to get excited about, however it’s important to do the research on any food or product claiming benefits. In the case of acai, the berries themselves help to suppress appetite, however acai berries alone don’t taste very good. Acai drinks, desserts, and snack foods contain acai, but also loads of sugar. For example, one brand of acai juice contains 25 grams of sugar per 8oz serving, making it even higher in sugar than sports and vitamin drinks. If you’re consuming acai in a drink or other sweet food, you should be thinking of it just like any other dessert. Any appetite suppressant benefit you get from the acai is more than offset by the sugar contained in these foods. If you do want the benefits of acai berries which also includes being rich in antioxidants, eat dried acai berries, preferably unsweetened.

3. Cesar Salad

A lot of people see the word “salad”, and immediately assume something is healthy. In the case of Caesar salad however, you might want to think again. The vegetables you consume in a Caesar salad are certainly good for you and rich in vitamins, however Caesar dressing is made with oils and mayonnaise. Creamy salad dressings are higher calorie than most, and richer in fat. In fact, one ounce of an average Caesar dressing contains 25% of your daily fat intake.

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4. Granola Bars

Granola bars are another food many of us just assume is going to be good for us. However like many other items on this list most of our favorite kinds are full of sugar. Even granola bars that are natural or from similarly named companies often have more sugar than you need in a day. There are healthy granola bars out there, just be sure to read the nutrition label. Case in point, this variety from Nature Valley contains 12 grams of sugar for a 35 gram bar, making the granola bar nearly half sugar.

5. Roasted Nuts

Many snack on nuts thinking they are a healthy choice, however if you want health benefits, snack on nuts infrequently. Contrary to popular belief, roasting or cooking nuts does not cause the healthy fats to convert into trans fats. However, nuts of any kind are high in different kinds of fat. Though these fats are “healthy” fats, they are still fats. Not as harmful as trans fats, but will still go to your hips if you eat too much.

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6. Diet Soda Pop

Finally, diet soda is the last unhealthy “healthy” alternative on our list. Sure, diet soda pop is lower in sugar, but it does contain a number of substitute sweeteners. These substitute sweeteners have not been proven to be explicitly harmful, however previous studies only followed the results of ingesting small amounts. Eating fake sweeteners in smaller amounts may not be harmful for you, but they are certainly something you want to eat infrequently. Not only that, despite the fact that fake sweeteners will not give your body a sugar high, they do stimulate the parts of your brain that enjoy sweet foods. You’re not eating a large amount of sugar in diet pop, but your body reads it as sugar in your brain. This has been found to increase your cravings for real sugar later. Drink diet pops less frequently, since they will make you crave desserts stronger in the future.

Featured photo credit: Mike Mozart via flickr.com

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Alicia Prince

A writer, filmmaker, and artist who shares about lifestyle tips and inspirations on Lifehack.

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Last Updated on August 12, 2019

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

12 Best Foods That Improve Memory and Brain Health

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 and brain power:

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.

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.

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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.

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

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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!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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