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Eat and drink this, not that

09.23.14 |

Last week, we talked about some seemingly healthy foods and drinks that are actually disastrous for your health.

Today, I’d like to expand on that subject a bit and look at some other common dietary choices that can be easily replaced by a more healthy alternative. Sometimes, a food or beverage looks enticing and can be convenient for our hustle-and-bustle lifestyle, but a better option is just an arm’s length away.

The next time you think about picking up one of the foods or drinks listed below, consider my alternative instead!

1. Drink freshly made, homemade tea, not pre-bottled tea

Brewing your own tea is a great way to create health in your life. Tea is full of heart-healthy flavonoids, and drinking it often provides a calming, relaxing sensation, helping you wind down from a day of work and stress.

If you buy your own tea bags or leaves and brew it yourself, tea has been proven to positively affect your health in many ways. However, choose an off-the-shelf bottled tea, and you may be doing more harm than good.

These teas are often loaded with sugars and high-fructose corn syrup, negating the benefits and setting you up for health complications like type 2 diabetes and obesity down the line. Brew your own tea, however, and you can be sure not to include any harmful additives. Also, never add milk to your tea as it neutralizes the health-giving benefits of the flavonoids and can add excess calories!

2. Eat natural almond butter, not peanut butter

Peanut butter seems like it should be relatively healthy. Nuts are a crucial component to the habits of health eating plan, and peanut butter is nothing more than ground peanuts, right?

Not always.

Oftentimes, peanut butter is loaded with extra sugar, salt, and fats, making what should be a healthy snack a terrible choice for the health-conscious individual. Instead, choose a natural almond butter, and be sure to check the ingredients list to ensure that no sugars, syrups, or salt have been added.

Almonds are incredibly nutritious to begin with–they’re high in vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium and fiber–and choosing almond butter over peanut butter will allow you to enjoy these health benefits in a spreadable, mixable format.

3. Drink black coffee, not blended coffee shop specials

It’s first important to note that coffee, like most foods and beverages, needs to be consumed in moderation, especially later in the day. Coffee contains an abundance of caffeine, and drinking too much after your day is under way can compromise your sleeping schedule and wreck your health in the process. The half-life of caffeine is six hours, so avoid any afternoon caffeinated products that could still be floating around your brain at bedtime.

If, however, you need a cup of joe to get your day rolling, try having it black instead of buying a pre-made coffee shop special or preparing a cream-and-sugar-heavy version at home.

Coffee on its own can potentially protect against Parkinson’s Disease, type 2 diabetes, and liver problems, but when you add in flavored creamers, whipped cream, caramel drizzle, and other popular additives, these benefits go out the window.

It may take some getting used to, but black coffee can become a healthy part of your morning routine.

4. Eat kale or spinach, not iceberg lettuce

First, let’s establish that iceberg lettuce is not “bad” for you; it’s just that there are more nutritional alternatives that also have more taste, eliminating the need to drench them in dressings. Kale and spinach, for instance, are loaded with vitamin K and lutein, and they also contain a respectable amount of Vitamin C.

Iceberg lettuce, on the other hand, contains similar vitamins and nutrients, but the content is much, much lower, bordering on almost negligible levels. The good news, however, is that lettuce isn’t going to harm your health, either. It just won’t boost it the way kale and spinach can!