The 5 Worst Foods for Your Brain

Hunger is not usually something we have to think hard about. We feel hungry, we find food, we eat it. But what if these “whatever” foods—foods convenient to us but of no real nutritional value—you’re resorting to are feeding your stomach, but not your mind?

The human brain requires all sorts of “good” oils and sugars in order to function properly. Sadly, many “whatever” foods these days lack not only these, but any kind of real sustenance. Here’s a list of foods you didn’t know were doing your brain more harm than good:

1. Tuna  

Especially dangerous for you sushi lovers out there like myself, tuna, raw or cooked, has proven to have extremely hazardous side effects on the brain. Why? Years upon years of industrial pollution have crept into our waters and contaminated the very source of our tuna with heavy metals like mercury. Not only does having high levels of mercury in your blood negatively affect cognitive function scores, it also attacks vital organs like your heart. Unless a change is made to undo years upon years of incessant pollution, the fate of tuna is not a pretty one. Tip: Next time you’re out for sushi, make sure you order the salmon or shrimp instead…  

2. Egg Whites

There’s a reason many diets require you to eat egg whites instead of whole eggs. In addition to being a considerable source of protein, egg whites are significantly lower in calories. Egg whites are not bad for you, but when you skip the yolks, you are missing out on some serious brain benefits. The yolk of an egg contains a powerful brain-protecting nutrient called choline. According to Men’s Health__, choline plays a vital role in verbal and visual memory. Tip: One way to increase the quality of an egg white meal is to add wholesome ingredients high in good fats and nutrients, like  olive oil and plenty of vegetables

3. Microwave Popcorn

A little-known fact about microwave popcorn is that it is filled with the famously unhealthy trans fats. Trans fats do not in any way contribute to the good fats your body needs. Instead, they are a source of high cholesterol, obesity, inflammation and cause damage to the lining of your blood vessels—which in turn harms your brain. Tip:Avoid foods with “ Partially hydrogenated oils” listed on the nutrition tab. As a yummy alternative find organic microwave popcorn brands like Quinn, popped with organic coconut oil, or Newman’s. Or, you can choose to pop your own kernels at home, with control over the ingredients you use!

4. Artificial Sweeteners

While it may seem a smart diet move to switch out the sugar in your pantry for virtually calorie-free substitutes, it’s hurting you more than it’s helping you. Some serious side effects of using artificial sweeteners include dulled taste buds, confusion of the body’s hunger signals, hormone imbalance, exposure to genetically modified material and even diabetes. Though the taste and convenience of such sweeteners may be satisfying, it’s safe to say the cons outweigh the pros. Tip:  For a healthy way to satisfy your sweet tooth, look for sweeteners like Stevia! With virtually no calories, this plant-derived “sugar” even contains elements that help lower blood pressure and, ironically, blood sugar levels. 

5. Margarine

It looks like butter, smells like butter, and kind of tastes like butter. But, is it really?  Margarine is created using a chemical reaction and is not found in nature, therefore it is artificially made. Because the synthetic “butter” is high in hydrogenated oils, a fancy word for trans fats, the health risks of consuming large amounts of margarine vary from high cholesterol levels to heart disease. Unlike real butter, margarine doesn’t contain any of the same healthy benefits— vitamins A, D, E, minerals like iodine, or fatty acids needed for healthy brain function. In short, margarine is not butter. Tip: For a healthier and vegan-friendly alternative, look to coconut oil! It still retains butter’s ability to add flavor and give that coveted “spongy” texture in pastries.