1. Snack bars make lousy snacks

    Most of us have done it at some point. Looking for a quick snack, we bypass the candy bars and grab something that's supposedly healthier -- like a cereal, granola, or energy bar.

    We know they're not perfect, of course. But they've got to be better than that tempting candy bar, right?


    I'm not actually going to recommend candy bars, but it turns out that many of the "healthier" snack and energy bars actually pack as much sugar as candy -- and in some cases, they have even more.

    The "healthy" Clif's Crunchy Peanut Butter bar, for example, has 21 grams of sugar -- the same amount of sugar you'll find in a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. The Clif bar has less fat, but it also has more calories.

    Some of the other Clif bars have 25 grams of sugar --even more than the 24 grams you'll find in a Hershey's bar.

    I don't want to just pick on Clif bar here, because it's not the only offender in the snack bar section. In fact, you'd be hard-pressed to find anything worth eating at all.

    Balance Bars have up to 18 grams of sugar, while some of the Odwalla bars have 17 grams. Luna bars have up to 13 grams of sugar, and that old standby -- the Power Bar -- can have a whopping 30 grams of sugar.

    That's actually 25 percent more sugar than that Hershey bar I mentioned earlier!

    Cereal bars aren't much better, and that includes the ones that trade on supposedly healthy brand names.

    Special K, for example, is marketed as a healthy cereal that can even help you to lose weight. In reality, it's just another bowl of empty carbs -- and with 4 grams of sugar per cup, it's not exactly low in sugar either.

    But that's nothing next to Special K bars, which can have up to double the sugar of the cereal.

    You're better off making your own snacks at home. Sure, they're a little more work, but they will be a lot healthier and a whole lot cheaper, too.

  2. Overeating could ruin your brain

    Empty calories aren't just bad for your belly. They can be downright ruinous for your brain -- and the latest research shows again how people who eat the most have the highest risk of memory problems.

    That means watching what you eat now could be the simplest way to avoid dementia later on.

    Researchers divided some 1,200 seniors between 70 and 89 years old into three categories based on how many calories they ate each day: a third consumed between 600 and 1,526 calories a day, a third chowed down on between 1,526 and 2,143, and the final third ate between 2,143 and 6,000 calories a day.

    Those in that last group had double the risk of mild cognitive impairment compared to the rest of the eaters in the study, even after adjusting for other risk factors like age, education and health history.

    But if you've noticed that the last category was rather broad, you're not alone.

    It seems to me there's a huge difference between someone who eats 2,200 calories a day -- which can be healthy, depending on how you get those calories -- and someone who gorges on 6,000 calories a day... which isn't healthy no matter what you eat.

    Yet in this study, they're both lumped into the same group. In addition, the study was based on food frequency questionnaires -- so those numbers are guesstimates at best.

    But I'm not ready to write this study off yet, either, because there's a clear link between diet and dementia -- and other studies have also found that people who weigh the most have the highest risk of the condition.

    One study found that women with the biggest waistlines in middle age had double the risk of dementia in old age. Another found that men and women alike with the highest levels of abdominal fat have more than triple the risk of dementia of those with the least.

    And yet another study last year found that overweight people see significant improvements in both memory and concentration when they lose weight.

    But if that's not enough of a reason to drop the extra pounds, consider all the other risks that accompany obesity: heart disease, diabetes, cancer, depression and -- of course -- an early demise.

    If you can avoid all that by eating a little better, I say go for it.

  3. Red wine: exercise in a glass

    You might think the only "exercise" you'll get from drinking wine comes from lifting the glass -- or maybe struggling to open the bottle. But it turns out resveratrol, the famous "red wine antioxidant," can actually trick the body into thinking it's getting some actual exercise -- giving you a big-time metabolic boost with every little sip.
  4. A nation of sugar addicts

    No wonder we're fatter and sicker than ever and getting worse every day: New numbers from the CDC show that half of all Americans over the age of TWO YEARS OLD drink at least one soda a day.
  5. Government guidelines lead to heart disease

    The U.S. government's dietary guidelines released last year allow people to get as much as 25 percent of their calories from added sugars. If it's not immediately obvious why that's a bad idea, a new study spells it out.
  6. How office work leads to obesity

    A new study finds that we're spending more time in office chairs than ever before, with 80 percent of us now working at jobs that involve little to no actual movement throughout the day.
  7. Bigger breakfasts aren't better

    A new study flips the cereal bowl right over--because researchers have found that people who eat more at breakfast simply eat more, period.

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