You can probably figure that white chocolate is bad for you, but what about swordfish and berries? Read on.
The advice: Drew Ramsey, M.D., assistant clinical professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and co-author of The Happiness Diet
The reason to avoid: We have see in many research papers, the right kind of chocolate serves not only as a treat but a brain superfood.
The problem is, white chocolate’s health profile is zero. “The research on the health benefits of cacao is pretty awesome,” says Ramsey. “Much of this is due to a set of amazing phytonutrients that can increase blood flow to the brain, protect blood vessels, and boost mood and focus. White chocolate is missing all this goodness.”
The solution: A one in a while treat. Look for organic versions of dark chocolate with low or no sugar instead.
The advice: Philip Landrigan, M.D., professor of pediatrics and professor and chair of preventive medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine
The reason to avoid: One of Dr. Landrigan’s top warning to women that are pregnant or looking to become pregnant? “Make avoiding mercury in fish a priority,” he says. Swordfish can be high in the heavy metal. Mercury is believed to be a potent neurotoxin that can damage developing children and reported to even trigger heart attacks in adults. Aside from obvious health concerns, swordfish is often overfished and some of the gear commonly used to catch swordfish could kill turtles, seabirds, and sharks.
The solution: Look for fish that are low in contaminants and where fished in a sustainable manner. Check out the Sustainable Seafood Guide here – they even have a free app.
The expert: Robert Kenner, director of Food Inc. and founder ofFixFood.org
The reason to avoid: While filming Food Inc., Kenner says he wanted to film strawberry farmers applying pesticides to their fields. “The workers wear these suits to protect themselves from the dozens and dozens of known dangerous pesticides applied to strawberries,” he says. “When I saw this, I thought to myself, ‘If this is how berries are grown, I don’t really want to eat them anymore.’ I haven’t been able to eat a nonorganic strawberry ever since
The solution: Go for organic! Just in case all the pesticides sprayed on berries is proven to be bad for us, and we all have read the research, buying organic solves this issue. The health benefits of berries are way too much to omit from our diet.
The expert: Isaac Eliaz, M.D., integrative health expert and founder of the Amitabha Medical Clinic and Healing Center in Sebastopol, California
The reason to avoid: Eliaz stays away from any diet soft drink or foods, sugar-free candies, and gum containing artificial sweeteners such as sucralose, aspartame, acesulfame K, and neotame, among others. “The safety data on these sweeteners is shrouded in controversy and conflicts of interest with the manufacturers of these chemical compounds,” warns Eliaz. “Independent research strongly suggests that when metabolized in the body, these sweeteners can cause health-related issues and problems related to metabolism and weight gain, neurological diseases, joint pain, digestive problems, headaches, depression, inflammatory bowel disease, chemical toxicity, and cancer, among others.”
The solution: Grab a piece of fruit to satisfy the sugar craving.
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