12 Foods Draining Your Brainpower

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12 Foods Draining

How many spoonfuls of high-fructose corn syrup did you eat yesterday?Oh, you don’t recall slurping down any of the hyper-sweet corn extract? Well, you did—about eight teaspoons’ worth, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In fact, the average American consumed 27 pounds of the stuff last year. And now new research indicates that in addition to making us fatter, all that HFCS may be making us dumber, as well.

12 Foods Draining

“Reduce fructose in your diet if you want to protect your brain,” says Fernando Gomez-Pinilla, professor at the University of California Los Angeles. He and his team tested how well rats recovering from brain injury learned new ways to get through a maze. They found that animals that drank HFCS took 30 percent more time to find the exit. “Our findings suggest that fructose disrupts plasticity—the creation of fresh pathways between brain cells that occurs when we learn or experience something new,” he says.

Now, if you live on a diet of Twizzlers and Pepsi, you probably already know that you’re consuming HFCS the way 13-year-old girls consume Bethany Mota’s latest posts. From ice cream to cupcakes, most of our sweet treats now come with a copious blast of this potentially cranium-crippling corn derivative. But what if you avoid sweets, eat natural, whole foods, and try to keep your diet as healthy as possible? You might still be hurting your brain, thanks to the sneaky places HFCS hides. Here are some “healthy” foods that carry the corn sweetener, and some smart alternatives that will ensure your neurons are firing at maximum capacity.

1: “Healthy” Cereals

Sugar is 50% fructose, so even healthy cereals like All-Bran can contain plenty of unwanted sweeteners. But some cereals really overdo it. Consider Kellogg’s Smart Start Strong Heart Maple & Brown Sugar, which lists both high fructose corn syrup and sugar, as well as corn syrup, molasses and honey on its ingredients list.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Fiber One. While delivering a whopping 55 percent of your daily fiber intake, Fiber One does it with just 60 calories and zero grams of sugar. For more healthy cereal ideas, check out our picks for the Best Breakfast Cereals for Weight Loss!

2: Sweet Pickles

Sweet and “bread & butter” pickles are often packed with sweetener that can turn a normally low-cal, gut-healthy treat into a real brain teaser. HFCS pollutes Vlasic Bread & Butter Spears with as much sugar as a handful of M&Ms.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Woodstock Farms Organic Sweet Bread & Butter Pickles. The label “organic” is highly regulated and ensures there is no HFCS inside. For additional healthy sandwich and burger toppings, pick from the Best Veggies for Weight Loss!

3: Fruity Cottage Cheese

Whenever you buy a product with added fruit, like Breakstone’s Cottage Doubles 100 Calorie Cottage Cheese with Strawberry, you’re almost certainly buying HFCS. One serving contains 10 grams of sugar, against just 9 grams of protein.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Choose a plain cottage cheese and add in your own berries or frozen fruit for a sweet taste without the added fructose. For some smart stir-in ideas, here are our picks for The Best Fruits for Fat Loss!

4: Maple Syrup

They may seem natural, like from a tree next to a snow-covered log cabin. But famous syrup brands like Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Butterworth are essentially high fructose corn syrup with a splash of caramel coloring.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

The best syrup for your brain and your waistline is a Grade A Medium Amber pure maple syrup. Since the flavor is so concentrated, a little goes a long way, saving you calories and sugar.

5: Applesauce

Apples are already sweetened with their own naturally occurring fructose, so why add more? But most premade applesauces are packed with HFCS. Mott’s Cinnamon Applesauce lists HFCS as its second ingredient–and delivers 24 grams of sugar per serving, exactly what you get in a Twix bar.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Mott’s Natural Applesauce. With no HFCS in sight, Mott’s cuts the sweet stuff to 11 grams of naturally occurring fruit sugars. For more intelligent snack options, check out our report on the 50 Best Healthy Snacks for Weight Loss!

6: Fancy Jams and Jellies

Just because you paid more money for it at the farmers’ market doesn’t mean you’re getting anything better for you. Crosse & Blackwell Red Currant Jelly may come in a fancy package, but there’s nothing fancy about its HFCS content.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Polaner All Fruit with Fiber. The best jams, jellies and preserves have one thing in common: They all contain more fruit than refined sugar. Polaner’s All-Fruit line goes one better, it’s made only with fruit and fruit juice.

7: Ketchup

Adding a touch of sweetness where none belongs, most ketchup makers squeeze high fructose corn syrup into their condiment concoctions. Heinz Tomato Ketchup gives you 4 grams of manmade sugary sweetness in just one tablespoon.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Annie’s Natural Organic Ketchup. While eliminating the HFCS, you’re also getting the benefits of organically raised tomatoes, which studies show are nearly twice as high in cancer-fighting lycopene. Annie’s is just one of our picks for the Condiments That Will Help You Lose Weight Fast!

8: Meat Marinades

No grillmaster ever won a BBQ contest by soaking his meat in HFCS, yet manufacturers seem compelled to pollute their own marinades with the corny stuff. The very first ingredient in KC Masterpiece Marinade Honey Teriyaki is high-fructose corn syrup.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Lawry’s Steak & Chop Marinade. Unlike most sugar-heavy marinades, Lawry’s uses mostly lemon juice and vinegar, both of which serve to both flavor and tenderize the meat. Or try the fat-burning Black Pepper Marinade in the new Zero Belly Cookbook! For 150+ delicious weight-loss recipes (lose up to 16 pounds in 14 days!), buy the Zero Belly Cookbook today!

9: Light Yogurts

Reducing fat almost always means increasing sugar, often in the form of fructose. Dannon’s Light & Fit Nonfat Banana Yogurt lists fructose as its third ingredient after nonfat milk and water–and ahead of actual banana.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Maple Hill Creamery makes only full-fat yogurts with organic milk from grass-fed cows, and that translates into more brain-boosting omega-3 fatty acids for you. And yes, full-fat foods can help you lose weight! We’ve found the 20 Best Full-Fat Foods for Weight Loss.

10: Granola Bars

With corn syrup, sugar, and molasses all part of its ingredients, Quaker Chewy Granola Caramel Apple Bar should put the gentleman in the big black hat to shame. It offers barely any fiber, but 8 grams of sugar. (Compare that to a bowl of Quaker Oats, with 4 grams of fiber and just one gram of sugar!)

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Simply Protein Cinnamon Pecan Bar. It rated #1 on the recent Eat This, Not That! bar taste test, and it packs 7 grams of fiber to just one measly gram of sugar. Check out our other picks for the Best Nutrition Bars for Weight Loss!

11: Canned Pastas

Mama Leoni would be alarmed if she found out what Chef Boyardee was doing to her traditional recipe. High fructose corn syrup, plus soybean oil and caramel coloring, all make it into this can of not-very-traditional Italian pasta.

EAT THIS INSTEAD!

Annie’s Organic P’Sghetti Loops. There are ways to get the kids fed in minutes that don’t put their test scores at risk, and Annie’s offers one of them.

12: Juice Drinks

In a perfect world, a juice would display just one single ingredient: fruit. But if you don’t see “100% juice” on the label, you can bet a strange brew inside the container. Sunny D Tangy Original may promote that it has 100 percent of your vitamin C for the day, but what’s really in the bottle is mostly high-fructose corn syrup, water, thickeners and artificial colors.

DRINK THIS INSTEAD!

Tropicana Trop50. This lightened-up OJ is still 42 percent real juice, but with half the sugar and calories of regular orange juice. Now that you’ve started off your day smart, avoid these 26 Bad Habits That Make You Fat!

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