TIME Diet/Nutrition

Eating Eggs With Raw Veggies Boosts Nutritional Benefits, Study Says

Fern salad made from fern with quail eggs.
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Cooked eggs increase carotenoid absorption in salads

Next time you’re eating a raw-vegetable salad, consider adding cooked eggs to the mix. A new study suggests that mixing eggs with raw vegetables increases carotenoid absorption almost ninefold, entailing a range of benefits including longer life span, fewer chronic illnesses and a reduced cancer risk.

Researchers at Purdue University in Indiana served 16 subjects three different varieties of the dish: an eggless salad, a salad with 1½ scrambled eggs and a salad with three scrambled eggs. There was a threefold to ninefold increase in carotenoid absorption from the salad containing the most eggs, according to Science Daily.

The salubrious ingredients — from beta-carotene to lycopene — serve as antioxidants protecting against cancer and heart disease.

“Americans underconsume vegetables, and here we have a way to increase the nutritive value of veggies while also receiving the nutritional benefits of egg yolks,” said the study’s researcher Wayne Campbell.

“Next time you visit a salad bar, consider adding the cooked egg to your raw veggies,” added Campbell. “Not only are lutein and zeaxanthin available through whole eggs, but now the value of the vegetables is enhanced.”

[Science Daily]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

There Might Be More Nutritious Chocolate On the Horizon

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Researchers create a new process to make chocolate richer in antioxidants

Scientists are looking to make chocolate a not-so-guilty pleasure.

Emmanuel Ohene Afoakwa, a professor of food science and technology at the University of Ghana, and his team have figured out a new process for making chocolate that’s healthier and contains more antioxidants. Chocolate’s antioxidants are thought to be responsible for some of its health perks related to cardiovascular health and memory support. Capitalizing on those antioxidants could not only provide better nutrition, but could be of interest to the candy industry. The researchers presented their process at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting in Denver on Tuesday.

Afoakwa and his team showed that tweaks to the storage and roasting processes can result in chocolate with more healthy compounds, but still the same sweet flavor.

The trick is to intervene in one of the many steps before cocoa turns into the chocolate. In typical chocolate-making, pods are first taken from cocoa trees and the cocoa beans are extracted, fermented and roasted. But during the roasting process many of the polyphenols, or antioxidants, in cocoa beans are lost. To protect them, the researchers decided to add a storage step to the process. They split 3oo pods into four different storage groups: no storage, three-day storage, seven-day storage and 10-day storage. The researchers found that seven days of storage resulted in the highest antioxidant levels after roasting.

Next, the researchers experimented with the roasting process, since that’s when most antioxidant content is lost. Normally beans are roasted for 10 to 20 minutes at 248-266 degrees Fahrenheit, the researchers say, but they decided to slow the process down and instead roast the beans at 242 degrees for 45 minutes. The lower temperature and longer roasting process also resulted in higher antioxidant activity compared to the beans that went through the usual roasting.

“I have been working on cocoa for some time, and my interest is on creating techniques that can enhance the flavor and the quality of the beans,” says Afoakwa. “We’re trying to find out how some of these practices can be enhanced to help farmers produce beans of higher quality.”

Afoakwa says his team recommends consumers choose dark chocolate over milk or white chocolate since dark chocolate typically has more antioxidants and less sugar. The researchers are continuing to identify changes to the chocolate-making process that could increase the candy’s nutritional content. The researchers are currently receiving funding from the Belgium government.

“We believe there will be a high benefit for confectionary industry,” Afoakwa says.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

This Cooking Trick May Cut Rice Calories in Half

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Strangely enough, it involves adding fat

A cup of white rice has about 200 calories—not insignificant considering it’s most often used as a small part of a larger dish. But there’s an easy, natural way to make rice less caloric: add a little fat, then let it cool. According to research presented at the American Chemical Society’s national meeting, using coconut oil and a refrigerator can slash calories by as much as 60%.

MORE 20 Filling Foods That Help You Lose Weight

Rice is made up of both digestible and resistant starch. Humans don’t have the enzymes to digest that second type, so resistant starch isn’t transformed into sugar and absorbed in the bloodstream like digestible starch. The more resistant starch a food has, the fewer calories from that starch our bodies will absorb.

Researchers from the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka wanted to figure out if they could convert some of rice’s digestible starch into the non-digestible type, and thereby make it less caloric. By testing out 38 different kinds of rice and simulating human digestion in a test tube, they devised a recipe for the least caloric way to cook rice: drop a teaspoon of coconut oil into boiling water, then add half a cup of non-fortified white rice and cook it for about 40 minutes. After cooking, stick it in the fridge for 12 hours.

MORE 6 ‘Bad’ Carbs That Are Actually Good For You

Rice cooked this way had at least 10 times the resistant starch as normally prepared rice and 10-15% fewer calories. But researchers think that with certain kinds of rice, the method could cut calories by 50-60%.

Here’s how it works: the glucose units in hot cooked rice have a loose structure, but when it cools down, the molecules rearrange themselves into very tight bonds that are more resistant to digestion, says Pushaparaja Thavarajah, PhD, who supervised the study. Scientists already know that it works in potatoes, but in the new study, researchers thought that adding a fat like coconut oil could add extra protection. It seemed to. The fat molecule wedges its way into the rice, Thavarajah says, and provides a barrier against quick digestion.

Making rice starch more resistant has other perks besides cutting calories. It’ll also feed your good bacteria. “The resistant starch is a very good substrate, or energy source, for the bacteria inside the human gut,” says Thavarajah.

Best of all, the researchers found that reheating the rice didn’t change the levels of resistant starch—so the calorie hack is safe for leftovers, too.

Read next: 4 Ways to Eat More and Still Lose Weight

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TIME Exercise/Fitness

10 Reasons Your Belly Fat Isn’t Going Away

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The choices you make every day can supercharge your ability to burn belly fat

A little bit of belly fat is actually good for you: it protects your stomach, intestines, and other delicate organs. But too much fat is anything but healthy. Extra fat cells deep in your abdomen (aka visceral fat) generate adipose hormones and adipokines—chemical troublemakers that travel to your blood vessels and organs, where they cause inflammation that can contribute to problems like heart disease and diabetes. The good news? Every pound you shed can help reduce your girth. “Once women start losing weight, they typically lose 30% more abdominal fat compared with total fat,” says Rasa Kazlauskaite, MD, an endocrinologist at the Rush University Prevention Center in Chicago. Even better, the choices you make every day can supercharge your ability to burn belly fat. Here are 10 common pitfalls—and ways to undo each one.

Read more: 20 Best Superfoods for Weight Loss

You’re on a low-fat diet

To shed belly fat, it’s good to eat fat—specifically monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). When researchers in one study asked women to switch to a 1,600-calorie, high-MUFA diet, they lost a third of their belly fat in a month. “MUFAs are satiating, so they help you eat fewer poor-quality foods,” says David Katz, MD, director of the Yale Prevention Research Center.

Belly blaster: Have a serving of MUFAs—like a handful of nuts, a tablespoon of olive oil, or a quarter of an avocado—with every meal and snack.

Read more: 9 Low-Fat foods You Should Never Eat

You’ve been feeling blue for a while

Women with depressive symptoms were far more likely to have extra belly fat, found a recent Rush University Medical Center study. That may be because depression is linked to reduced physical activity and poor eating habits.

Belly blaster: Exercise! “It improves levels of brain chemicals that regulate metabolism of fat, as well as your mood,” Dr. Kazlauskaite says. This enhances your motivation to do other things that help ward off depression, like seeing friends. But if you’re so bummed out that you don’t want to do things you used to enjoy, it’s time to seek the help of a therapist.

Your food comes from a box

Simple carbs (like chips) and added sugar (in items like sweetened drinks) cause your blood sugar to spike, which triggers a flood of insulin—a hormone that encourages your liver to store fat in your middle.

Belly blaster: Instead of focusing on cutting out junk, center your efforts on adding in healthy fare (think extra servings of vegetables at each meal). As Dr. Katz says, “Filling your tank with high-quality fuel thwarts hunger.”

You’re skimping on the miracle mineral

Magnesium regulates more than 300 functions in the body. No surprise, then, that a 2013 study found that people who consumed more of it had lower blood sugar and insulin levels.

Belly blaster: At least twice a day, reach for magnesium-rich foods such as dark leafy greens, bananas, and soybeans.

You’re hooked on diet soda

A study in Obesity found that diet soda drinkers were more likely to have a high percentage of fat in their bellies. The researchers think that diet drinkers may overestimate the calories they’re “saving,” and then overeat.

Belly blaster: If you’re not ready to kick your habit, the researchers suggest reducing the number of food calories in your diet.

Read more: 10 Reasons to Give Up Diet Soda

You love burgers

When Swedish researchers gave one group of adults 750 extra daily calories, mainly from saturated fat, and another group the same amount of calories but mostly from polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) for seven weeks, the saturated fat group accumulated two times as much visceral fat.

Belly blaster: Dine on fatty fish like salmon or trout once a week to get a good dose of PUFAs. The rest of the time, reduce your intake of red meat and opt instead for protein low in saturated fat, such as legumes and chicken.

You think girls don’t get beer guts

According to a 2013 Danish study, beer may indeed be linked with abdominal obesity. And though beer appears to have the greatest impact, wine won’t save you from a spare tire: One study found that the amount of alcohol of any type that women drank contributed to weight gain.

Belly blaster: Stick with seven or fewer alcoholic beverages a week. Light to moderate drinkers are the least likely to carry excess weight anywhere, shows a recent Archives of Internal Medicine study.

You can’t recall when you last said “om”

Menopause-related hormonal changes (which typically begin in your 40s) make it harder to shed stomach pudge—but vigorous yoga can help offset the effects. A 2012 study found that postmenopausal women who did an hour-long yoga session three times a week for 16 weeks lost more than 1/2 inch around their waists.

Belly blaster: Not a fan of Sun Salutations? “Take an hour to do something nice for yourself,” which could help control your stress hormones, advises Sheila Dugan, MD, a physical medicine and rehabilitation specialist in Chicago.

Read more: Try This Flat-Belly Yoga Pose

Your meals are beige

Brightly colored fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamin C, which reduces cortisol. What’s more, a recent study in The Journal of Nutrition showed that people who ate more of the nutrients in red, orange, and yellow produce had smaller waists as a result.

Belly blaster: Add color to your plate by topping fish with a mango salsa, or throw diced red pepper into your turkey meatballs.

Your sweat sessions don’t involve sweat

Research has shown that high-intensity interval training, or HIIT—bursts of vigorous activity followed by short periods of gentle activity or rest—boasts belly-shrinking benefits. “High-intensity exercise seems to be more effective at reducing insulin, triglycerides, and cortisol, and it burns more calories in less time, too,” notes Shawn Talbot, PhD, a fellow of the American College of Sports Medicine.

Belly blaster: If you enjoy biking or running, for example, accelerate to a pace that makes it hard to talk for two minutes; then slow down for a minute, and repeat until you’re done. Like resistance training? Try a series of moves like squats or push-ups for two minutes each with a 60-second break between them.

This article originally appeared on Health.com.

Read next: What Diet Soda Does to Belly Fat

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

Can Watching Cooking Shows Lead to Weight Gain?

Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village Featuring MasterCard Grand Tasting Tents & KitchenAid® Culinary Demonstrations - 2015 Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival
Larry Marano—2015 Larry Marano Paula Deen attends the Whole Foods Market Grand Tasting Village during the 2015 Food Network and Cooking Channel South Beach Wine and Food Festival on February 22, 2015 in Miami Beach, Florida.

Cooking is always healthier than not cooking—right? Not according to a new study published in the journal Appetite, which found that the more a woman prepared food she saw on a cooking show, the higher her BMI.

The researchers surveyed about 500 women, with an average age of 27, about their weight, height and cooking habits. Getting information from cooking shows and social media were both associated with a higher BMI.

MORE: The Truth About Home Cooking

Other studies have shown that merely watching someone else eat influences the way you eat—which is “the exact situation that may occur when people watch cooking shows on television,” the authors write. The study didn’t look at what foods the women actually consumed, mind you.

Other research suggests that the foods featured on TV aren’t always healthier than eating out. One study found that recipes by TV chefs in the U.K. had worse nutritional stats—more calories, more saturated fat and less fiber—than prepared food from supermarkets, which in and of itself is a pretty low bar for nutrition.

MORE: The Case Against Cooking

Scroll through your feed of Instagram dinner pics, and you’ll realize your friends aren’t helping, either. The authors speculate that social media was linked to BMI “because people may post their most indulgent “picture-perfect” recipes,” they write.

Need help deciding what to make for dinner? Check out the 50 healthiest foods of all time—nothing bacon-wrapped here, promise. Your BMI will thank you.

TIME Research

Prolonged Breastfeeding Linked to Higher IQ and Wealth in Adulthood

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New research suggests that breastfeeding newborns longer helps enhance brain development

Children that breastfeed for longer periods end up smarter, more educated and wealthier in adulthood, according to a new study.

According to research published in the Lancet Global Health journal, children who breastfeed for at least 12 months scored almost four points higher on IQ tests, attended school for a year longer and made 15% more money at 30 years old, when compared with their peers who suckled for less than a month.

Researchers in Brazil surveyed almost 3,500 individuals born in the state of Pelotas in 1982 about their breastfeeding habits.

The study’s authors say the uptick in intelligence is likely tied to the presence of long-chain saturated fatty acids present in breast milk that are essential for brain development.

“Our finding that predominant breastfeeding is positively related to IQ in adulthood also suggests that the amount of milk consumed plays a role,” said lead author Bernardo Lessa Horta, a professor at Federal University of Pelotas in Brazil.

[Science Daily]

TIME Diet/Nutrition

What Diet Soda Does to Belly Fat

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More evidence that diet soda contributes to weight gain, not weight loss

A new study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that people who drank diet soda gained almost triple the abdominal fat over nine years as those who didn’t drink diet soda. The study analyzed data from 749 people ages 65 and older who were asked, every couple of years, how many cans of soda they drank a day, and how many of those sodas were diet or regular.

Those answers ended up being extremely predictive of abdominal-fat gain, even after the researchers adjusted for factors like diabetes, smoking and levels of physical activity. People who didn’t drink diet soda gained about 0.8 in. around their waists over the study period, but people who drank diet soda daily gained 3.2 in. Those who fell in the middle — occasional drinkers of diet soda — gained about 1.8 in.

That change in waist circumference is especially concerning because it highlights an unfortunate truth about weight distribution: the belly is a bad place for extra pounds. The kind that pads the abs from the inside, called visceral fat, is associated with increased cardiovascular disease, inflammation and Type 2 diabetes.

MORE Is Diet Soda Bad for You?

These results, which the study authors call “striking,” add to the growing body of evidence that no- and low-calorie sweeteners may come with health concerns. Though scientists are still puzzling through the mechanisms by which diet soda seems to have the unintended consequence of weight gain, they have some ideas. Sugar-free sodas contain substances that sweeten up soda at 200-600 times the sweetness of sugar.

“Regular sugar has caloric consequences,” says the study’s senior author Dr. Helen Hazuda, professor of medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. And one of those is that it triggers satiety — a sense of fullness or satisfaction. “Your body is used to knowing that a sweet taste means you are ingesting energy in the form of calories that, if you don’t burn them off, is going to convert to fat,” she says. Artificial sweeteners, however, confuse our bodies and weaken the link in our brains between sweetness and calories. That, Hazuda says, can lead to weight gain and cravings for sweeter and sweeter treats.

There may be something else at work. A recent study in mice showed that artificial sweeteners actually changed the gut bacteria of mice in ways that made them vulnerable to insulin resistance and glucose intolerance — both of which can lead to weight gain. And other mice research suggests that artificial sweeteners are associated with a drop in the appetite-regulating hormone leptin, Hazuda says. Leptin is the hormone that inhibits hunger.

MORE 13 Ways to Stop Drinking Soda for Good

The Calorie Control Council, an association that represents the reduced-calorie food and beverage industry — including alternative sweeteners — disagreed with the study’s findings. “The use of low-calorie sweeteners (LCSs) in weight management has been shown to be beneficial,” the group said in a statement. “While approaches to treat obesity in older individuals is controversial, diet modifications can be a successful part of a weight-management program for older adults.”

Researchers in the new study found that belly-fat gain was most pronounced in people who were already overweight. “People who are already at cardiometabolic risk because they have higher BMIs are really in double or triple jeopardy,” Hazuda says. “When they think they’re doing something good by drinking artificially sweetened beverages, it’s actually totally counterproductive.”

Read next: 5 Weird Ways to Consume Guinness on St. Patrick’s Day

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

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TIME Diet/Nutrition

Why Full-Fat Dairy May Be Healthier Than Low-Fat

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Dodging dairy fat may be bad for your waistline

Skim milk or whole? Non-fat yogurt or full-fat? For decades, public health officials have treated these decisions as no-brainers. Cut the dairy fat, they’ve maintained, and you’ll sidestep calories without missing out on good stuff like calcium and protein. Win-win. But they might have been wrong, a chorus of experts now say.

A recent review published in the European Journal of Nutrition of the existing research on dairy fat came to some surprising conclusions: People who eat full-fat dairy are no more likely to develop cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes than people who stick to low-fat dairy. When it comes to weight gain, full-fat dairy may actually be better for you, the review found.

“In terms of obesity, we found no support for the notion that low-fat dairy is healthier,” says Dr. Mario Kratz, first author of the review and a nutrition scientist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle. Of the 25 studies included in his team’s review, Kratz says 18 reported lower body weights, less weight gain, or a lower risk for obesity among full-fat dairy eaters. The other seven studies were inconclusive. “None of the research suggested low-fat dairy is better,” he says.

More research supports his team’s findings. A 2013 study in the Scandinavian Journal of Primary Health Care tracked the dairy intake and obesity rates of more than 1,500 middle-aged and older adults. Those who frequently ate full-fat butter, milk, and cream had lower obesity rates than those who eschewed dairy fat. “Based on my own research and on the research of others, I believe high-fat dairy is less likely to contribute to obesity that low-fat dairy,” says Dr. Sara Holmberg, first author of the study.

The belief that fat isn’t a health villain has been gaining traction the last few years, especially as data has piled up showing that low-fat diets don’t work. And while national health organizations seem to be softening their stance on fat, they still recommend reaching for low- or non-fat dairy at the supermarket.

Their justification: “Research has shown consistently that nutrient-rich foods—that is, foods that pack a lot of micronutrients into every calorie—are healthier,” says Isabel Maples, a registered dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Maples says reduced-fat dairy provides calcium, potassium, and other good things Americans need in their diet, and does so with fewer calories than full-fat dairy. She says reduced-fat dairy also contains less saturated fat.

Kratz doesn’t disagree with Maples’s comments. But he says they make assumptions about dairy that aren’t backed up by existing evidence. “Data should be weighed more heavily than assumptions,” he says. “And the data don’t support the notion that eating full-fat dairy is worse for your health than reduced-fat or non-fat dairy.”

How could something with more calories be better for your waistline? Some researchers argue that not all calories are equal—especially when it comes to weight gain. Also, focusing on calories-per-serving largely ignores a mammoth factor when it comes to obesity: fullness. Kratz says the fatty acids that are stripped out of reduced-fat dairy may help you feel full sooner and stay full longer—meaning you’ll eat less now and in the coming hours.

Dairy’s fatty acids may also play a role in gene expression and hormone regulation. In simple terms, these acids may crank up how much energy your body burns, or limit the amount of fat your body stores. “We don’t know any of these things for certain,” Kratz adds. “But they could help explain why our findings show full-fat dairy consumption is preferable to low-fat when it comes to a person’s risk for obesity.”

Holmberg, the author of the Scandinavian study, calls dairy “paradoxical,” and says it’s not possible to judge dairy’s health effects based only on its macronutrient content. “It is important to study the effect of real food and not just nutrients,” she adds.

Several more European studies have suggested similar links between full-fat dairy and lower rates of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. And a just-published review from the journal BMJ concludes that, back in the 1970s—when health regulators established national diet guidelines that encouraged people to avoid fat—there wasn’t evidence to support those warnings. Basically, the foundation for all your “fat is evil” beliefs may have always been weak.

At the same time, none of this means you should gorge yourself on full-fat dairy. “We shouldn’t swing the pendulum too far in the other direction and say, ‘Put butter in everything and eat as much dairy as you want,’ ” Kratz warns. (Compared to many foods—especially vegetables and fruit—dairy contains no fiber, which is critical for digestion, for how the body manages sugar, and which plays an important role in maintaining a healthy weight.)

But if you’re deciding between skim milk and whole milk, the existing research argues you may be better off grabbing the full-fat stuff.

TIME Diet/Nutrition

4 Ways to Tell How Much Sugar You’re Eating

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Sugar adds up quickly in your daily diet

The World Health Organization issued guidelines Tuesday encouraging people to limit sugar intake to no more than 10% of the calories their daily diet.

Keeping to the limit, which doesn’t include sugar found in fruit and vegetables, would help curb obesity, tooth decay and other problems caused by excess sugar intake, officials from the agency said. Taking things even further, WHO suggests limiting your sugar to below 5% of daily calories for even more health benefit. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) estimates that the average American consumes 16% of their daily calories from added sugar.

But what does 16% of daily calories in sugar look like? And how can you cut down to 10% or less?

1. Learn how to switch grams into sugar packets. The first place to start is the nutrition facts on the back of the product, which tells you how many grams of sugar are in a given product. Of course, since most people have no idea what a gram of sugar looks like, it helps to have a quick conversion in your own head. One packet of sugar—the kind people put in their coffee—is typically 4 grams.

2. Find hidden sugar. Next, you want to realize that most of the sugar Americans consume in a day is not the granulated white stuff, but hidden sugars in everything from low-fat salad dressing and BBQ sauce to store-bought bread, yogurt and breakfast cereal. These hidden sugars add up.

3. Check your sugar calories. Keeping all that in mind, you want to figure out how many calories you’re getting from all that sugar. A rough, if inexact, way to do that math is like this: Every packet of added sugar equals about 16 calories. Assuming you eat 2,000 calories per day, give or take, that means no more than 200 of your calories—or 100 if you’re being strict—should come from sugar. Either way, you shouldn’t eat or drink more than the equivalent of 10 of those in any given day.

4. See what those sugar tallies look like. Nutrition labels leave out the percentage of daily sugar a product contains. In fact, the FDA, which oversees implementation of the label by food manufacturers, has no official guideline about how much sugar you should consume, and the USDA says simply “Consume fewer foods with … added sugars,” and leaves it at that. To help you understand how much sugar you should be eating according to the WHO, TIME used information from nutrition labels to give you a sense of how quickly you can hit that 10% cap. All figures assume you’re eating a 2,000 calorie daily diet:

DINNER OUT

If you go to Olive Garden and have the citrus chicken sorrento entree with a 20 oz. can of coke you’ll already have consumed 275 calories of sugar. That’s 14% of the total calories and 40% more than the total sugar most people should consume in a day. Add the 162-calorie Olive Garden lemon cream cake to your meal and, in sugar alone, you’ll have eaten nearly a quarter of the total calories you’re supposed to consume throughout the day.

AN AFTERNOON SNACK

A vanilla latte and a doughnut would cost you 201 sugar calories, which is just over the total recommended max.

A LOW-FAT BREAKFAST

Think you’re fine with a fruit-on-the-bottom yogurt and a coffee with one sugar packet? You probably are, assuming you don’t eat sugar again for the rest of the day—which is unlikely. That combination is 181 calories of sugar, or 9 percent of your recommended total calorie intake.

A GIANT BREAKFAST

Every now and then you may want to treat yourself and ditch that healthy breakfast. If you have French toast with maple syrup, you’ll easily hit 182 calories of sugar, which is just shy of the recommended total. Add a cup of OJ and you’re easily way over the daily recommended value before you’ve even left the house for the day. Or, if you’re at a chain like IHOP, make sure you avoid some of the more creative French toast twists. The restaurant’s Peach Vanilla Stuffed French Toast, for instance, contains 325 calories of sugar—that’s a day and a half of the recommended value.

A POST-WORKOUT SNACK

Want hydrate and enjoy a quick energy hit after that work out? A large bottle of Gatorade and a Clif Bar will load you with 292 calories of sugar, or nearly 15% of your total recommended calorie intake for the day—and more than your sugar intake, too.

 

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