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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 December 9, 2019

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

5 Simple Ways to Relieve Stress Effectively

Everyone experiences mental stress at one time or another. Maybe you’re starting a new career, job, or business, or you feel incredibly overwhelmed between work, parenting, and your love life (or a lack of it). It could even be that you simply feel that you have way too much to do and not enough time to do it,  plus, on top of everything, nothing seems to be going the way it should!

Yup, we all experience mental stress from time-to-time, and that’s okay as long as you have the tools, techniques and knowledge that allow you to fully relieve it once it comes.

Here are 5 tips for relieving mental stress when it comes so you can function at your best while feeling good (and doing well) in work, love, or life:

1. Get Rationally Optimistic

Mental stress starts with your perception of your experiences. For instance, most people get stressed out when they perceive their reality as “being wrong” in some way. Essentially, they have a set idea of how things “should be” at any given moment, and when reality ends up being different (not even necessarily bad), they get stressed.

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This process is simply a result of perception and can be easily “fixed” by recognizing that although life might not always be going as YOU think it should, it’s still going as it should—for your own benefit.

In fact, once you fully recognize that everything in your life ultimately happens for your own growth, progress, and development—so you can achieve your goals and dreams—your perception works in your favor. You soon process and respond to your experience of life differently, for your advantage. That’s the essence of becoming “rationally optimistic.”

The result: no more mental stress.

2. Unplug

Just like you might need to unplug your computer when it starts acting all crazy, you should also “unplug” your mind.

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How on earth do you unplug your mind? Simple: just meditate.

It isn’t nearly difficult or complicated as some people think, so, if you don’t already meditate, give it a try. Whether you meditate for 5 minutes, 30 minutes, or 2 hours, this is a surefire way to reduce mental stress.

Meditation has been scientifically proven to relax your body (resulting in less mental stress), while also reducing anxiety and high blood pressure.

3. Easy on the Caffeine

Yes, we know, we know—everyone loves a nice java buzz, and that’s okay, but there’s a fine line between a small caffeine pick-me-up and a racing heart and mind that throws you into a frenzy of mental stress.

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Try giving up caffeine for a while and see how you feel. And, if that’s completely out of the question for you, at least try to minimize it. You might find that lots of your mental stress mysteriously “disappears” as your caffeine intake goes down.

4. Attack Mental Stress Via the Back Door

That’s right: your body and mind are part of the whole being, and are constantly influencing and affecting each other. If you’re experiencing a lot of mental stress, try to reduce it by calming your body down—a calm body equals a calmer mind.

How do you calm your body down and reduce physical stress? A  great way to reduce physical stress (thereby reducing mental stress) is to take natural supplements that are proven to reduce stress and anxiety while lifting your mood. Three good ones to look into are kava-kava, St John’s wort, and rhodiola rosea:

  • Kava-kava is a natural plant known to have mild sedative properties, and you should be able to find it at your natural health food store or vitamin store. It’s available in capsules or liquid extract form.
  • St John’s wort is a natural flower used to treat depression. Again, it’s found at your local health store in capsules or liquid. Because it uplifts mood (enabling you to see the brighter side of all experiences) it helps relieve mental stress as well.
  • Rhodiola rosea is a natural plant shown to reduce stress and uplift mood, and Russian athletes have been using it forever. Like the other two supplements mentioned, rhodiola rosea can be found at your natural health store in capsule or liquid form.

While these supplements are all natural and can be very helpful for most people, always check with your health care provider first as they can cause side-effects depending on your current health situation etc.

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5. Good Old-Fashioned Exercise

This tip has been around forever because it works. Nothing relieves mental stress like running, kickboxing—you name it. Anything super-physical will wipe out most of your mental stresses once the exercise endorphins (happy chemicals) are released into your brain.

The result: mental stress will be gone!

So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed or just plain stressed, try using some of the above tips. You can even print this out or save it to refer to regularly.

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Featured photo credit: Radu Florin via unsplash.com

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