In the pantheon of classic Italian-American dishes, chicken cacciatore emerges at the top of the nutritional totem pole. That’s because it derives its flavor from a lusty stew of tomatoes, peppers, onions, and wine—not a blanket of cheese or oil-soaked bread crumbs. That’s right, you’ll save almost 600 calories with our chicken cacciatore recipe and almost 10 bucks than you would dining on Olive Garden’s Chicken Scampi.

Nutrition:
430 calories, 13 g fat (2 g saturated), 560 mg sodium

Serves 4

You’ll Need

2 Tbsp olive oil
8 boneless chicken thighs (or a mix of thighs and drumsticks)
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
10–12 green or black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1⁄2 cup dry red wine
11⁄2 cups chicken broth
1 lb Italian tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

How to Make It

  1. Heat the oil in a large cast-iron skillet or sauté pan over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet, skin side down. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp on all sides. Transfer to a plate.
  2. Lower the heat and add the onion, bell pepper, olives, garlic, and pepper flakes. Cook until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.
  3. Pour in the wine and simmer, stirring occasionally, until it’s nearly evaporated, about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the broth and tomatoes to the skillet.
  5. Return the chicken to the pan, tucking it into the vegetables skin side up, and bring to a simmer.
  6. Cook over medium heat for another 20 minutes, until the chicken is extremely tender and the sauce is reduced by half.
  7. Sprinkle with the parsley. Serve on soft polenta, quinoa, or a small bed of mashed potatoes.

Eat This Tip

Choosing Chicken

While boneless, skinless chicken is the leanest protein in the meat case, we leave the skin on here because it helps prevent the chicken from drying out during the cooking process. That doesn’t mean you have to eat it, though. Leave the skin on while the chicken simmers to insulate and baste the meat, then simply pull it off before eating. The result? The moistest chicken imaginable for a light caloric toll.

This recipe (and hundreds more!) came from one of our Cook This, Not That! books. For more easy cooking ideas, you can also buy the book!

The post A Flavorful, Low-Cal Chicken Cacciatore Recipe appeared first on Eat This Not That.

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Whatever happened to the days when the 6 p.m. dinner bell would ring and Mom would pull a beautifully browned roast from the oven? Well, plenty of things: microwaves, pizza delivery, the narrowing of the gender equality gap. Although it should be said that the pay-gap has nowhere near narrowed. So why don’t we make a new tradition with this favorite meal? Point is, we miss the roast, and there is no reason dads (and brothers, and boyfriends!) shouldn’t endeavor to make a roast beef every so often. That’s right, guys, you can do it. It’s as simple as turning on the oven, putting in the seasoned beef, and pulling it out when it’s ready. This type of roast beef recipe magic should be timeless (and genderless, too.)

Nutrition:
260 calories, 16 g fat (5 g saturated), 380 mg sodium

Serves 6-8

You’ll Need

3 lb rump roast
8 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
2 Tbsp olive oil
1⁄2 Tbsp chopped fresh rosemary
Salt and black pepper to taste

How to Make It

  1. Remove the roast from the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking.
  2. Preheat the oven to 250°F.
  3. Use a small paring knife to make incisions into the roast and gently insert garlic clove halves all over.
  4. Rub the roast with the olive oil and season all over with the rosemary and plenty of salt and pepper.
  5. Place on a rack on a baking sheet and place in the middle rack of the oven.
  6. Roast for 90 minutes.
  7. Turn up the heat to 475°F and roast for another 15 minutes, until the beef has developed a deep-brown crust and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 140°F.

Eat This Tip

Kitchen Macgyver:

No baking rack? No problem. Many recipes call for baking racks to allow the warm air to fully circulate around the meat, but you can simulate the effect very simply with no extra equipment.

  • Position one oven rack in the middle of the oven and another immediately below it.
  • Prep and season the meat, then place it directly on the middle rack.
  • Place a rimmed baking sheet below to catch the juices as they fall from the meat. (Those precious juices can be turned into gravy with a bit of flour and broth!)

This recipe (and hundreds more!) came from one of our Cook This, Not That! books. For more easy cooking ideas, you can also buy the book!

The post Simple Garlic-Rosemary Roast Beef Recipe appeared first on Eat This Not That.

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We love fast food burgers, and we bet you do, too. However, it’s an indulgence—and everyone knows it. Just as you wouldn’t order a Whopper or a Big Mac because you’re trying to watch your waistline, you’d probably order a salad for the same reason: it sounds like the healthiest item on the menu. Sadly, that’s not always the case.

More often than you realize, that salad is actually the worst choice on the menu. Restaurants across the country have learned that “nutrition” sells, so they smack these caloric calamities onto the “lighter fare” portion of the menu, encouraging you to think you’re making a healthy selection. To clear up the confusion and call these offending salads out, we’ve rounded up the most prominent examples of unhealthy salads. These salads are so bad, you’d be better off ordering that Whopper, after all.

In fact, the salads at many restaurants have thousands of calories, unhealthy trans fats, and more sodium than you should eat in a whole day all served over a bed of lettuce. Check out the worst offenders from some of the most popular restaurants in America.

1

Applebee’s Crispy Chicken Tender Salad

Applebees crispy chicken tender saladCourtesy of Applebee's

Per salad: 1,170 calories, 79 g fat (21 g saturated, 0.5 g trans fat), 2,360 mg sodium, 69 g carbs (7 g fiber, 30 g sugar), 48 g protein

Four of the salads on Applebee’s menu break the 1,000-calorie barrier, making them just as dubious as any other menu item, but this one takes the cake with more than the daily recommended amount of sodium in just one salad! Slash calories by switching over to the Thai Shrimp Salad.

Eat This! Instead:

Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

Per salad: 780 calories, 55 g fat (11 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,950 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (7 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 49 g protein

2

Buffalo Wild Wings Honey BBQ Chicken Salad with Honey BBQ Ranch Dressing

Buffalo wild wings bbq chicken saladCourtesy of Buffalo Wild Wings

Per salad: 1,040 calories, 59 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 3,570 mg sodium, 71 g carbs (6 fiber, 38 g sugar), 54 g protein

We’re as perplexed as you are. How a salad that contains chicken manages to have almost twice as much sodium as the daily recommendation is a nutritional puzzle that only Einstein himself could solve. (We’d never know.) Your better option is to choose a side salad, and a side salad only, as most of Buffalo Wild Wing’s salads have more than 1,000 calories.

Eat This! Instead:

Caesar Side Salad With Light Caesar Dressing

Per salad: 330 calories, 21 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 960 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (3 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 8 g protein

3

California Pizza Kitchen Waldorf Chicken Salad

California pizza kitchen saladCourtesy of California Pizza Kitchen

Per salad: 1,320 calories, 94 g fat (22 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat) 2,020 mg sodium, 75 g carbs ( 10 g fiber, 55 g sugar), 54 g protein

CPK’s salad menu is littered with gigantic gut-bombs like this one. There’s no reason that this salad should saddle you with over a grand of calories. According to the CPK website, it contains field greens, chilled-grilled chicken breast, seedless grapes, Granny Smith apples, candied walnuts, celery and Gorgonzola cheese. When mixed together in reasonable proportions, there’s nothing inherently wrong with these ingredients. In fact, most of them are good for you. It’s just that CPK jumbo sizes their menu items. Choose the half-size of the Roasted Vegetable Salad instead and consider it your main meal, not a starter dish.

Eat This! Instead:

Half Roasted Vegetable Salad with Dijon Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing

Per half salad: 360 calories, 27 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 610 mg sodium, 29 g carbs (10 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 7 g protein

4

T.G.I. Fridays Grilled Chicken Pecan & Blue Cheese Salad

TGI Fridays grilled chicken pecan blue cheese saladCourtesy of TGI Friday's

Per salad: 950 calories, 42 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 1,730 mg sodium, 103 g carbs (10 g fiber, 77 g sugar), 49 g protein

In chain-restaurant parlance, not even the grilled chicken salads are safe bets. That’s because once you add sugar-coated pecans, dried cranberries, and a heap of blue cheese, you have all the makings of one of America’s worst salads. The sugar count of this salad climbs to the equivalent of 5.5 scoops of Breyer’s Natural Vanilla Ice Cream (and the fat equivalent of three scoops). To cut back on sugar, you can opt for the lowest-calorie salad choice with the Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken.

Eat This! Instead:

Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken with Caesar Dressing

Per salad: 650 calories, 42 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0.5 trans fat), 1,660 mg sodium, 24 g carbs (4 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 46 g protein

5

Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad With Crispy Chicken

Applebees oriental saladCourtesy of Applebee's

Per salad: 1,430 calories, 96 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,510 mg sodium, 109 g carbs (11 g fiber, 37 sugar), 37 g protein

Why is this salad so hefty? Part of the blame goes to the ìtasty Oriental vinaigrette, for sure (the secret is always, at least partially, in the sauce). Another reason: It’s topped with crispy noodles (carbohydrate overload). And to complete the triumvirate of dietary doom: Fried chicken to boot. What exactly makes this a salad again?

Eat This! Instead:

Thai Shrimp Salad

Per salad: 380 calories, 19 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat), 1,510 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (8 g fiber, 14 g sugar), 25 g protein

6

Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad

Chilis quesadilla explosion saladCourtesy of Chili's

Per salad: 1,400 calories, 93 g fat (28 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,390 mg sodium, 81 g carbs (9 g fiber, 17 g sugar), 61 g protein

The “explosion” is what happens to your mind when you realize what’s in this “salad.” Chili’s highest-calorie salad will supply you with 1.5 days’ worth of fat, thanks in no small part to its “garnish”—an order of cheese quesadillas!

Eat This! Instead:

Santa Fe Chicken Salad with Chicken

Per salad: 620 calories, 43 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 1,610 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (7 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 33 g protein

7

Cheesecake Factory Chinese Chicken Salad

The Cheesecake Factory chinese saladCourtesy of The Cheesecake Factory

Per salad: 1,740 calories, 106 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 2,840 mg sodium, 141 g carbs (11 g fiber, 62 g sugar), 59 g protein

Bet you weren’t expecting to take down the sugar equivalent of 4.5 single-serve bags of Haribo Gummy Bears in a salad—were you? That’s not to mention you’ll also be gulfing down the same amount of fat as you’d find in 13 bags of Doritos chips. To stick with the Asian theme, opt for the more calorically-reserved Seared Tuna Tataki Salad.

Eat This! Instead:

Seared Tuna Tataki Salad

Per salad: 490 calories, 29 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,380 mg sodium, 17 g carbs (5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 42 g protein

8

Cheesecake Factory Barbeque Ranch Chicken Salad

Cheesecake Factory Barbeque ranch chicken saladCourtesy of The Cheesecake Factory

Per salad: 2,150 calories, 137 g fat (25 g saturated fat), 2,870 mg sodium, 161 g carbs (23 g fiber, 67 g sugar), 66 g protein

The dismal dawn of the 2,000-calorie salad is upon us. Truth be told, nearly every Cheesecake Factory salad dwarfs a Whopper (or two, or even three), but this one is truly the worst of the worst. Save 1,310 calories—the same caloric value as Cheesecake Factory’s Roasted Mushrooms Flatbread—by switching to the Wellness Salad instead. On the “Super” Food Menu, the Wellness Salad is a kale-based dish with avocado, broccoli, fresh fruit, and nuts.

Eat This! Instead:

Wellness Salad

Per salad: 840 calories, 70 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,180 mg sodium, 45 g carbs (14 g fiber, 23 g sugar), 14 g protein

9

Panera Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad With Chicken

Panera southwest chile lime chicken saladPanera Bread/Twitter

Per salad: 650 calories, 34 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 810 mg sodium, 53 g carbs (9 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 38 g protein

Panera’s salads might have fewer calories than a Whopper, but it’s worse in almost every other category. This Southwest Chile Lime Ranch Salad packs in a disastrous 1,270 milligrams of sodium. If you’re planning to order a salad at Panera, try the antioxidant-packed Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad.

Eat This! Instead:

Strawberry Poppyseed & Chicken Salad

Per full salad: 340 calories, 13 g fat (1.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 280 mg sodium, 31 g carbs (6 g fiber, 20 g sugar), 29 g protein

10

Chipotle Carnitas Salad With Black Beans, Fajita Veggies, Cheese & Chipotle Honey Vinaigrette

Chipotle saladChipotle Mexican Grill/Facebook

Per salad: 695 calories, 38 g fat (15g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,850 mg sodium, 47 g carbs (10 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 39 g protein

If you’re seeking solace in salads at Chipotle, be sure to pass on the one and only vinaigrette on the menu. With 220 calories and 16 grams of fat, it has more than double the calories than the most caloric salsa at Chipotle. Your best bet is to turn the tangy green salsa (just 15 calories per serving) into your dressing and spend the 205 calories you save elsewhere. When you’re looking to order at Chipotle, we opt for a burrito bowl over the salad and ask for extra lettuce on the bottom. Basically, just a salad without the caloric dressing.

Eat This! Instead:

Barbacoa Burrito Bowl With black beans, cheese, lettuce, and tomato salsa

Per bowl: 440 calories, 17 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,480 mg sodium, 30 g carbs (10 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 38 g protein

11

Cosi Cobb Salad

Cosi cobb saladCosi/Yelp

Per salad: 739 calories, 56 g fat (16 g saturated, 0 g trans fat), 1,316 mg sodium, 20 g carbs (3 g fiber, 94 g sugar), 39 g protein

Learn to lighten up! On sandwiches and salads that include Cosi Vinaigrette, this little phrase will switch you to a fat-free vinaigrette. Easiest 300-calorie savings ever. Ordering salad when dining out is risky business, but the Shanghai standby below offers plenty of lean protein and fresh vegetables without the normal salad pitfalls.

Eat This! Instead:

Shanghai Chicken Salad

Per salad: 265 calories, 10 g fat (2 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 870 mg sodium, 28 g carbs (4 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 18 g protein

12

Taco Bell Fiesta Taco Salad

Taco bell fiesta taco saladCourtesy of Taco Bell

Per salad: 760 calories, 39 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,330 mg sodium, 78 g carbs (11 g fiber, 7 g sugar), 26 g protein

Deep-frying an oversized tortilla and using it as a salad bowl completely defeats the purpose of ordering a salad in the first place. No matter what you stick in it, it’s still going to be burdened with a dangerous load of greasy fat. Opt for the hard-shell taco instead—it’s still the best option on the menu after all these years.

Eat This! Instead:

Crunchy Beef Tacos

Per taco: 170 calories, 9 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 310 mg sodium, 13 g carbs (3 g fiber, <1 g sugar), 8 g protein

13

BJ’s Honey-Crisp Chicken Salad

Honey crisp saladCourtesy of BJ's Brewhouse and Restaurant

Per salad: 1,370 calories, 103 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,333 mg sodium, 77 g carbs (6 g fiber, 36 g sugar), 42 g protein

This salad comes from BJ’s “Garden Fresh” menu, but it’s not even close to something you’d find in a real garden. It has multiple nutritional categories in the quadruple digits. Downsize and look to the “Small Salads” section of the menu.

Eat This! Instead:

Fresh Mozzarella and Tomato Salad

Per salad: 260 calories, 18 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 324 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 14 g protein

P.F. Chang’s Vietnamese Noodle Salad with Salmon

PF Changs vietnamese noodle saladCourtesy of P.F. Chang's

Per salad: 1,040 calories, 32 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,690 mg sodium, 166 g carbs (6 g fiber, 29 g sugar), 52 g protein

Salmon might seem like an obvious choice to put on top of a salad due to its beneficial omega-3s and protein. However, when you add this healthful fish to carby noodles, it makes the calorie count soar over 1,000, not to mention, it also adds 450 milligrams of sodium. While our Eat This! Option isn’t much better on the sodium front, it will save you nearly 500 calories and 24 grams of sugar.

Eat This! Instead:

Asian Caesar Salad With Chicken

Per salad: 570 calories, 35 g fat (8 g saturated fat), 1,130 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (4 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 37 g protein

15

Romano’s Macaroni Grill Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Salad

Romanos parmesan chicken saladRichard B./Yelp

Per salad: 1,080 calories, 48 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 910 mg sodium, 100 g carbs (7 g fiber, 16 g sugar), 64 g protein

Romano’s has been one of the most responsive restaurants in the past few years—a number of items we’ve featured on our pages and online have shrunk or all but disappeared in the wake of such exposure. The bad news is that dishes like this one still exist on their menu. Slash calories, fat, and saturated fat by opting for the new Crunchy Lombardo. This hearty salad is full of good ingredients like kale, arugula, apple, dates, parmesan, and pickled red onions all topped with a blood-orange vinaigrette.

Eat This! Instead:

Crunchy Lombardi

Per salad: 380 calories, 19 g fat (4 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 830 mg sodium, 48 g carbs (7 g fiber, 35 g sugar), 10 g protein

16

El Pollo Loco Chicken Tostada Salad with Creamy Cilantro Dressing

El pollo loco double chicken tostada saladBryan R./Yelp

Per salad: 1,150 calories, 76 g fat (17 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,810 mg sodium, 77 g carbs (7 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 40 g protein

The dressing may be light, but this bowl is anything but. Rice and a fried tortilla combine for a one-two punch of empty carbs, while the shredded cheese and sour cream lend these leaves more saturated fat than a dozen strips of bacon. Opt for the surprisingly healthy Mexican Caesar Pollo Bowl instead. This Itali-Mex hybrid bowl makes significant improvements on the standard Caesar that so routinely underdelivers. Plenty of freshly grilled chicken adds a big dose of protein, and the hulking scoop of salsa ensures that the lettuce isn’t mere token greenery. You can also go for…

Eat This! Instead:

Double Shrimp Mango Bowl

Per bowl: 420 calories, 21 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 850 mg sodium, 43 g carbs (6 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 16 g protein

17

California Pizza Kitchen BBQ Chicken Chopped Salad

California Pizza kitchen chicken saladCourtesy of California Pizza Kitchen

Per full salad: 1,180 calories, 74 g fat (18 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat) 1,630 mg sodium, 77 g carbs (13 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 54 g protein

You know something’s amiss when the salad packs more than twice as many calories as the pizza. California Pizza Kitchen’s menu is a minefield of viscous calorie bombs, and if you try to venture far from the beaten path, you’ll likely find yourself with a barrage of clandestine calories clambering for real estate in—and on—your belly.

Eat This! Instead:

Classic Caesar Salad, Full

Per salad: 530 calories, 40 g fat (12 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat) 810 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (8 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 17 g protein

18

On the Border Grande Taco Salad With Ground Beef with Chipotle-Honey Mustard Dressing

On the Border taco beef saladMichael N./Yelp

Per salad: 1,160 calories, 88 g fat (25 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,140 mg sodium, 62 g carbs (11 g fiber, 21 sugar), 31 g protein

You could almost have two Whoppers in this salad! This beltline-busting bowl boasts two days’ worth of saturated fat and almost a full day’s worth of heart-taxing sodium. The Chipotle-Honey Mustard Dressing alone adds 330 calories, 31 grams of fat, and 12 grams of sugar.

Eat This! Instead:

Fajita Chicken Salad

Per salad: 440 calories, 21 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,090 mg sodium, 27 g carbs (8 g fiber, 17 sugar), 41 g protein

19

California Pizza Kitchen Thai Crunch Salad

California Pizza Kitchen Thai Crunch SaladCourtesy of California Pizza Kitchen

Per full salad: 1,180 calories, 73 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat) 1,710 mg sodium, 88 g carbs (14 g fiber, 51 g sugar), 55 g protein

Shredded carrots, edamame, cabbage, fresh avocado: The menu reads like an Intro to Nutrition class at the local junior college. If that’s the case, CPK is flunking out of school, since this seemingly harmless salad will saddle you with more calories than a pound and a half of sirloin from Applebee’s. Blame the two different dressings, the shower of fried wonton strips, and the sewer-cap size plate.

Eat This! Instead:

California Cobb With Herb Ranch Dressing, Half

Per half salad: 480 calories, 37 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 780 mg sodium, 11 g carbs (5 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 26 g sugar

20

Ruby Tuesday Crispy Chicken Ranch Salad

Ruby Tuesday chicken ranch saladTwitter/ Ruby Tuesday

1,029 calories, 67 g fat (15 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,266 mg sodium, 56 g carbs (2 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 39 g protein

When you sat down for dinner, did you expect to blow through your entire day’s sodium budget by the end of your salad? Well that’s exactly what would happen if you sat down to this dish at Ruby Tuesday’s. While our Eat This! option is slightly better on the sodium front, it’s a clear winner when it comes to being nearly half the calories, fat, and saturated fat.

Eat This! Instead:

BBQ Chicken Cobb

Per salad: 624 calories, 31 g fat (9 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 2,099 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (1 g fiber, 12 g sugar), 49 g protein

21

IHOP Cobb Salad with Crispy Chicken

IHOP chicken cobb saladIHOP

Per salad: 1,210 calories, 93 g fat (27 g saturated fat), 2,360 mg sodium, 38 g carbs (5 g fiber, 8 g sugar), 56 g protein

You can indulge in IHOP’s most caloric stack of pancakes—the Belgian Dark Chocolate Mousse Pancakes—and still have 140 calories leftover before you meet the same caloric value as this salad. to make a better-for-you pick, go with the grilled chicken and eat it alongside the veggie salad rather than the Cobb.

Eat This! Instead:

Grilled Chicken & Veggie Salad

Per salad: 680 calories, 41 g fat (7 g saturated fat), 1,330 mg sodium, 46 g carbs (11 g fiber, 26 g sugar), 38 g protein

22

Chick-fil-A Cobb Salad

Chick fil a cobb salad chicken stripsCourtesy of Chick-fil-A

Per salad: 620 calories, 33 g fat (8 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 1,380 mg sodium, 41 g carbs (5 g fiber, 9 g sugar), 41 g protein

Chick-fil-A’s Cobb salad with avocado lime ranch dressing will set you back 620 calories and nearly half your day’s worth of saturated fat, which is more than double that of the restaurant’s more obviously unhealthy Chicken Sandwich. Instead, opt for the grilled nuggets on the market salad to cut back on calories and fat for a good amount of protein.

Eat This! Instead:

Grilled Market Salad with Grilled Nuggets and Light Balsamic Vinaigrette

Per salad: 350 calories, 15 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat), 610 mg sodium, 26 g carbs (5 g fiber, 13 g sugar), 32 g protein

23

Moe’s Southwest Grill Adobo Chicken Close Talker Salad in Fried Salad Bowl With Southwest Vinaigrette

Moe's close talker saladCourtesy of Moe's Southwest Grill

Per salad: 963 calories, 62 g fat (18 g saturated fat), 1,629 mg sodium, 68 g carbs (15 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 45 g protein

We think this is clear: if you’re trying to eat healthy, a deep-fried taco shell isn’t going to cut it. Swap the chicken for steak, leave out the 455-calorie deep-fried taco shell, sub the Southwest Vinaigrette for a Chipotle Ranch, and you’re looking at a reasonable meal from Moe’s.

Eat This! Instead:

Steak Close Talker Salad With Chipotle Ranch Dressing

Per salad: 475 calories, 25 g fat (11 g saturated fat), 1,178 mg sodium, 34 g carbs (14 g fiber, 3 g sugar), 40 g protein

24

Zaxby’s The Fried Cobb Zalad

Zaxbys fried cobb saladCourtesy of Zaxby's

Per salad: 820 calories, 46 g fat (16 g saturated fat, 2 g trans fat), 1,970 mg sodium, 42 g carbs (6 g fiber, 6 g sugar), 58 g protein

Save yourself 30 grams of fat and over double the saturated fat and trans fat by opting for grilled instead of fried when you’re ordering a salad at Zaxby’s. The fried chicken chain makes some good crispy chicken, but double the calories just isn’t worth it if you’re eating a salad every day.

Eat This! Instead:

The Grilled Caesar Zalad

Per salad: 440 calories, 16 g fat (7 g saturated fat, 1 g trans fat), 1,600 mg sodium, 25 g carbs (3 g fiber, 5 g sugar), 49 g protein

25

Wendy’s Full Taco Salad

Wendys taco saladCourtesy of Wendy's

Per salad: 620 calories, 28 g fat (10 g saturated fat, 0.5 g trans fat), 1,760 mg sodium, 66 g carbs (12 g fiber, 18 g sugar), 28 g protein

Wendy’s may have a good number of salad options, but you’re going to be in the red when it comes to one macronutrient for each of them. The Apple Pecan Chicken Salad has 41 grams of sugar while the Harvest Chicken Salad has 37 grams of sugar—the only good news is that both of these are lower in fat. On the other hand, Wendy’s Parmesan Caesar Salad and Southwest Avocado Salad are both high in fat—34 grams and 41 grams, respectively)—but much lower in sugar. The Taco Salad takes the cake for the worst of all of them, but we’re going with the Southwest Avocado Salad as the healthiest fast food salad from Wendy’s because many of those fats are healthy monounsaturated fats from avocado. Plus, it serves up a high amount of protein. Go with the half to cut back on calories while maintaining just as much protein as the Taco Salad.

Eat This! Instead:

Southwest Avocado Salad, Half

Per salad: 310 calories, 21 g fat (6 g saturated fat, 0 g trans fat), 620 mg sodium, 10 g carbs (4 g fiber, 4 g sugar), 22 g protein

This article was originally published in January 2016 and has since been updated to reflect the most recent nutrition information.

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There’s nothing subtle about the commingling of seared steak and egg yolk in the morning. You know you’re in for something serious even before it hits the table. Amazingly enough, though, this is a near-perfect nutritional start to your day, loaded with protein, healthy fat, and even a bit of fiber. This steak and eggs meal works as well at 11:30 a.m., as a cure for a hangover or post-workout hunger pangs, as it does at 8 p.m., as a remedy for a long day at work.

Nutrition:
400 calories, 23 g fat (5 g saturated), 660 mg sodium

Serves 4

You’ll Need

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb flank or skirt steak
Salt and black pepper to taste
4 Roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise
4 eggs
Chimichurri

How to Make It

  1. Heat 1⁄2 tablespoon of the olive oil in a grill pan or cast-iron skillet over high heat.
  2. Season the steak all over with salt and pepper.
  3. Cook, turning the steak every minute or so, for 7 to 8 minutes total, until fully browned on the outside and firm but fully yielding to the touch.
  4. Remove to a cutting board and rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
  5. While the steak rests, place the tomatoes cut-side down in the same pan and cook for about 2 minutes, until the bottoms are lightly blackened.
  6. Heat the remaining 1⁄2 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick pan.
  7. Working in batches, crack the eggs into the pan and fry until sunny-side up, the whites just set and the yolks still loose. Season with salt and black pepper.
  8. Slice the steak against the natural grain of the meat.
  9. Divide among 4 warm plates with the eggs and tomatoes. Spoon chimichurri liberally over the steak and eggs.

Eat This Tip

Chimichurri

This bright green garlic and parsley sauce is Argentina’s most ubiquitous condiment for a reason: It has that unique power to make almost everything taste better. Grilled steak and chimi is the classic combo, but it makes even more sense when you add eggs to the picture. Beyond beef, try chimichurri as a sandwich spread, as a topping for roast chicken or grilled fish, or as a dipping sauce for grilled asparagus or crispy roasted potatoes. It keeps for a week in the fridge and gets better with time, so make up a big batch and go to town.

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Unfortunately, Brussels sprouts are the type of food that strikes horror in the hearts of picky eaters, adults and children alike. Let’s be honest, we get it. When prepared badly, Brussels are anything but appetizing. When you sauté a few Brussels sprouts without much seasoning, you’re bound to chow down on some bitter, hard, green balls of no thank you. However, if you really take the time to cook Brussels sprouts right, and employ some great sauces and techniques, this vegetable can become down right addictive and craving satisfying. In this Brussels sprouts recipe, we add bacon to help us get there. Don’t worry, we promise, the smoke of the bacon, the heat of the red pepper flakes, and the crunch of the almond will win over even the most stubborn veggi-phobe.

Nutrition:
120 calories, 5 g fat (1.5 g saturated), 310 mg sodium

Serves 4

You’ll Need

4 strips bacon, chopped into small pieces
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed, cut in half
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 Tbsp sliced almonds

How to Make It

  1. Heat a large skillet or sauté pan over medium heat.
  2. Add the bacon and cook until crispy, about 5 minutes.
  3. Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
  4. Discard all but 1 tablespoon of the rendered bacon fat.
  5. Add the garlic, pepper flakes, Brussels sprouts, and a pinch of salt to the skillet.
  6. Sauté until the sprouts are lightly browned on the outside and tender—but still firm—throughout, 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Add the almonds and sauté for another minute or two.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.

Eat This Tip

Keep Vegetables Vegetarian:

Like all of our recipes, this dish is adaptable. To make this dish vegetarian and vegan-friendly, feel free to cut out the bacon all together. You can either add in sautéed pieces of your favorite soy sausage option, or leave it out entirely and just add more nuts. For those allergic to nuts, remove them entirely and add pumpkin or sunflower seeds. To keep the salty crunch that the bacon provides, roast the seeds in olive oil and Himalayan sea salt, or even a bit of soy sauce to give them a salty crunch.

This recipe (and hundreds more!) came from one of our Cook This, Not That! books. For more easy cooking ideas, you can also buy the book!

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If you’re not an avid cook or chef, it may come as a surprise to hear that brown butter is actually made from regular butter; there’s simply just an extra step involved. Seriously! Think about it this way in the simplest of terms: chocolate milk doesn’t come from a different cow than regular milk, right? No, of course not. Chocolate syrup is often swirled into milk to make that perfect glass of chocolate milk, just as brown butter is made from heating up regular butter on a skillet.

Still confused? Not to worry. We consulted David Wang, chef de cuisine of Boleo rooftop in Chicago, Illinois, for more insight on why this form of butter yields a more complex flavor than its traditional counterpart.

How exactly do you make brown butter?

“Brown butter is the process of browning the milk solids that are in butter,” says Wang. “Depending on what type of butter you buy, the average content of butter is made up of 80 percent fat to 20 percent milk solids and water.”

So basically, you’re browning a small fraction of the butter.

What is this type of butter used for?

The chef says that this variation of the creamy stuff can be used to caramelize anything from vegetables to meat and that it’s used to amplify the flavor of the dish.

“Brown butter is used to impart flavor,” says Wang. “Specifically, it tends to impart a flavor of toasted nuttiness, but the flavor spectrum ranges depending on the variation of color of the brown butter.”

What makes brown butter a better choice than regular butter?

“Brown butter adds a deeper caramelized flavor to dishes that regular butter can’t achieve on its own,” says Wang.

Whether you’re looking to sear scallops or make a flavorful dressing for sautéed carrots and onions, browning butter is a great way to achieve optimal flavor in a dish.

Any pitfalls to using brown butter over regular butter?

We know we just hyped this type of butter up, but alas, there are some dishes that regular butter is actually better for.

“Brown butter isn’t always the best choice for baking purposes when you need the steam from the milk solids to create pockets of fluffiness,” explains Wang. “Depending on the recipe, brown butter may need to cool down before using it so if you have time constraints, imparting flavor with butter may not be the best option.”

When is it best to use brown butter?

“I definitely recommend experimenting with using brown butter in both sweet and savory dishes to notice the toasty, nutty flavor it adds to your favorite recipes,” says Wang,

Now, with all info, we have a feeling you have a solid understanding of how browning butter can take your dish to the next level. Next step: start planning what recipes you want to try it out on!

RELATED: 150+ recipe ideas that get you lean for life.

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Regardless of whether or not you celebrate Easter, one thing is for certain: Having an excuse to eat chocolate treats is something that many can appreciate this time of year. Eating chocolate in the form of little eggs just adds to the experience. A Cadbury Creme Egg is one such example of an iconic Easter treat, with the first variation of the creme-filled egg hitting stores almost a century ago in 1923 in the U.K. Originally, they were called Fry’s Creme Eggs after J.S. Fry of Bristol, but the name changed to Cadbury Creme Egg in 1971.

The first chocolate eggs ever created stem back even further into history though, specifically in 1873. Needless to say, chocolate eggs are a timeless treat, and the Cadbury Creme Egg certainly has a rich history. It’s an iconic treat for a reason: Who else would have thought of creating a chocolate treat that mimics the inside of an egg once you break into it? And speaking of the inside…

What is inside of a Cadbury Creme Egg?

To emulate the yolk and albumen (the technical name for the white part of the egg, in case you didn’t know), the creme filling is made from none other than fondant—as in the smooth yet thick icing that often coats wedding cakes. Though only three ingredients usually go into fondant (water, corn syrup, and granulated sugar), the exact secret recipe behind the gooey fondant deliciousness of the inside of a Cadbury egg is still under wraps. Different colored dyes are used to differentiate the color of the yolk from its white counterpart—the flavor is all the same, it’s merely just part of the aesthetic. Plus, because fondant is thicker and more dense than a normal icing or a buttercream is, it gives the egg and its colors a more stark obvious contrast against the chocolate shell. Plus, it won’t run as much when you bite into it!

Now, how exactly is the filling inserted into the egg?

Sure, biting into the chocolate egg surely gets the goo out, but the question is: how does the goo go in?

Well, this treat is made via a mold. First, melted chocolate is poured into a half egg-shaped mold. Next, half of an egg is filled with white fondant, and then it’s topped off with just a drop of the yellow fondant in its center. Not too much and not too little, this is the perfect way to make that inside-of-an-egg-like filling.

Plus, the proper way to eat a Cadbury egg (according to someone who makes them) is to bite the top off, eat the fondant inside, and then eat the shell on its own.

When can you enjoy this treat?

Cadbury Creme Eggs are only available from January 1 to Easter Sunday, so you best run to the nearest drug store or grocery store and stock up while you can!

RELATED: The science-backed way to curb your sweet tooth in 14 days.

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teen couple holding hands

Having sex before 13 is linked to increased sexual risks, such as having multiple sexual partners and sexually transmitted infections, an editorial published with the study said. It may also be linked to substance abuse, dating violence and low school achievement.

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Have a glass of red wine or two on the weekend, and studies suggest you may improve your heart health. But drinking too much on the daily can have absolutely deleterious effects. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend women enjoy up to one drink per day and men have up to two drinks per day. However, this doesn’t mean you can abstain from fancy cocktails all week just to down seven or more of them come Saturday night. That’s because alcohol dependency and binge drinking affect the brain in more damaging ways than you’d think.

Alcohol use was responsible for almost 3 million deaths globally in 2016, and it was also the leading risk factor for premature death and disability among people aged between 15 and 49, according to The Lancet. You can chalk that up to alcohol being a major catalyst to a slew of different health ailments, including stroke, heart disease, pancreatitis, liver cancer, and many disorders affecting the brain.

In order to get a better grasp on how alcohol affects the brain, we parsed a multitude of peer-reviewed studies and spoke to neuroscientist Bankole Johnson, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Adial Pharmaceuticals, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, and leader of the Brain Science Research Consortium Unit at the University of Maryland, to get the scoop. Read on before your next happy hour.

1

It’s linked to depression.

man staring at table of beers - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

Despite the high you might get from throwing back a round of picklebacks, the exhilaration doesn’t last very long. In fact, a review in the journal Addiction sheds light on how drinking regularly is actually linked to depression. The analysis revealed that the presence of either alcohol use disorder or major depression doubled the risks of the second disorder—while alcohol use disorder increases the risk of major depression. Don’t count on a glass to perk you up.

2

Your brain shrinks.

scientist measuring shrunk brain- how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

The more you drink, the smaller your brain becomes. The Framingham Offspring study reviewed MRI scans (which measure brain volume) of 1,839 people aged 34 to 88 who either abstained from alcohol altogether, used to drink, are low drinkers (one to seven drinks per week), moderate drinkers (eight to 14 drinks per week), or high drinkers (more than 14 drinks per week). The verdict: the more alcohol people drink on a regular basis, the lower their brain volume.

On average, for every increase in drinking category (for example, low drinkers to moderate drinkers), brain volume decreased by 0.25 percent. What’s more, folks who imbibe more than 14 drinks per week had an average 1.6 percent reduction in brain volume. However, there’s hope that the damage is reversible: a German study found that just three weeks of abstaining from alcohol significantly helped participants increase their brain tissue density. Researchers note that the reversibility was mostly influenced by participants’ age.

3

Your brain ages rapidly.

man staring with liquor bottle in hand - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

Come your next birthday, your brain may be blowing out fewer candles than it deserves. In the largest brain imaging study to date, scientists evaluated brain SPECT (single photon emission computed tomography) scans of more than 30,000 people ranging from as young as nine months old to 105-year-olds. The results revealed that alcohol abuse aged the brain by 0.6 years or 7.2 months. Other common habits and disorders that accelerate brain aging include schizophrenia, cannabis abuse, bipolar disorder, and ADHD, respectively, the study found. Ironically enough, you’ll find out below that many of these factors are also some of the damaging alcohol-induced effects on your brain.

4

You can black out.

woman in bed holding head - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

This one’s no surprise—especially if you’ve ever skipped dinner and then proceeded to have one-too-many drinks at the bar. A study review in National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH), had men consume 16 to 18 ounces of 86-proof bourbon—the equivalent of 11 to 12 shots—in about four hours. The subjects’ memory was tested with different stimuli, after which they were asked to recall details. While most of the men recalled the stimuli after two minutes, the more time that passed, the less they remembered. Half of the men reported not remembering any of the stimuli presented 30 minutes and 24 hours after the events.

In another study, seven hospitalized alcoholics were given access to booze. One participant’s blackout was so severe that one participant couldn’t remember hitting a man over the head with a chair. The study found that blackouts occur at BAC (blood alcohol concentration) levels as low as 0.14 percent and often begin around 0.20 percent. Blackouts lasted anywhere from nine hours to three days. “It is important to note that all the blackout periods occurred after a rapid rise in blood alcohol level,” the study author stated. You can take measures to avoid blackouts by drinking a glass of water after every alcoholic drink and making sure to eat before heading to the bar.

5

It can cause Korsakoff’s syndrome.

woman with a headache - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

While you’re probably more in-the-know about the immediate effects of sipping too many cocktails (hello, hangovers and memory lapses), drinking too much can also cause more serious medical conditions. Korsakoff’s syndrome occurs when your body lacks vitamin B1 (also known as thiamine), a deficiency common in people who suffer from alcohol use disorder. The journal Neuropsychology Review defines this syndrome as a severe disorder characterized by permanent cognitive and emotional deficits. And according to the Alzheimer’s Association, thiamine deficiency can destroy brain cells and cause widespread microscopic bleeding and scar tissue that disrupts the brain from carrying signals among cells that are associated with storing and retrieving memories.

6

It impairs speech.

man dizzy drinking beer - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

While one study found that alcohol can actually help you speak a second language better, the same positive effects don’t ring true for your native tongue. A study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shed light on how alcohol causes one of the most recognized effects—slurred speech. The study found that even moderate levels of alcohol significantly increased the difficulty of semantic access.

7

It slows hand-eye coordination.

man drinking from liquor bottle - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

Maintaining your coordination after a few drinks is no easy feat—which is exactly why operating heavy machinery while intoxicated is illegal and why cops employ sobriety tests. In order to shed light on how your brain’s coordination ability is impaired while intoxicated, a study in the journal Alcohol studied brain scans of healthy social drinkers when they were sober and again when they were drunk. The researchers concluded that the brain’s connections between vision and movement-planning areas that are important for hand-eye coordination are weakened even after a BAC as low as 0.08 percent. The MRI scans revealed that imbibing resulted in decreased connectivity between the brain’s supplementary motor area (which is involved in planning and executing controlled movements) as well as the primary visual and motor areas.

8

It can trigger early on-set dementia.

man looking at picture with shot of liquor - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

Contrary to popular belief, dementia isn’t an ailment that only affects grandparents. While dementia affects five to seven percent of people aged 60 years and older, early-onset dementia can target people younger than 65. And a study in The Lancet found that alcohol use disorder is a major risk factor. Of the 31,624,156 adults discharged from French hospitals between 2008 and 2013, 57,353 (or 5.2 percent) of those diagnosed with dementia had early-onset dementia—and most of these cases were either alcohol-related or had an additional diagnosis of alcohol use disorders.

9

You can develop Marchiafava-Bignami disease.

man holding forehead with tall beer glass - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

Marchiafava-Bignami disease is a brain disorder associated with alcohol abuse, Dr. Johnson exclusively tells us. “The disease leads to cell death and destruction of associative areas of the brain such as the corpus callosum. The theory is that chronic alcohol use leads to vitamin B deficiency. Thus, individuals with severe malnutrition also can have MB disease,” he tells us, adding that the disease is quite rare and that, currently, there is no specific treatment for it.

10

It can increase anxiety.

woman panicking in chair - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

“Alcohol is sometimes used to decrease stress. With chronic use, however, there is desensitization of GABA neurons associated with its anxiolytic properties, with greater excitation of glutaminergic neurons that increase anxiety,” Dr. Johnson tells us. “Over time and with protracted withdrawals from alcohol, brain excitation becomes the more prominent neurological manifestation and leads to greater stress and risk of relapse.”

Plus, researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago Center for Alcohol Research in Epigenetics discovered that alcoholism alters the expression of a protein crucial for the formation and maintenance of neural connections in the amygdala, which is the brain region associated with emotion, fear, and anxiety.

11

It can worsen bipolar disorder.

man sitting on bed with alcohol glass - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

If you suffer from a mood disorder, chances are that drinking—even just a few drinks—can worsen it. A study in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry studied 148 patients with bipolar I or II disorder over the course of two years and five months. Researchers found that as little as 1.2 drinks for women and 3.8 drinks for men worsened the symptoms of bipolarism. For women, the frequency of alcohol consumption was associated with lifetime episodes of depression and hypomania while wine consumption, specifically, was linked to lifetime hypomanic episodes and current manic symptoms. For men, total alcohol consumption was associated with lifetime manic episodes and emergency department visits while consumption of spirits was strongly associated with lifetime manic episodes as well as emergency department visits.

Another study found that bipolar I disorder (also known as mania) and alcohol use disorders are 6.2 times more likely to occur together. Researchers think that alcohol withdrawal in a person who is dependent may lead to the onset of bipolar disorder symptoms.

12

It increases stress.

woman holding head from alcohol - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

It’s time to store away that Bloody Mary mix and step away from the tequila. A study in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that chronic drinking leads to the production of cortisol, the hormone responsible for triggering stress. “Prolonged and elevated levels of glucocorticoid hormones can damage or destroy neurons, and lead to an increased vulnerability to other situations that can damage neurons, such as raised excitatory amino acid activity,” A.K. Rose, a lecturer in psychology at the University of Liverpool and corresponding author for the review, explains. “One of the most important questions for research and treatment is why alcoholics can relapse after many months of abstinence,” observed Littleton. “Partly this can be attributed to the effects of conditioning in which ‘cues’ provoke craving for alcohol, as well as a ‘protracted withdrawal syndrome’ which includes anxiety, sleep disturbances, and general feelings of being unwell.

Prolonged use of alcohol may even be the reason why people relapse after months of abstinence: “This can be attributed to the effects of conditioning in which ‘cues’ provoke craving for alcohol, as well as a ‘protracted withdrawal syndrome,’ which includes anxiety, sleep disturbances, and general feelings of being unwell,” says John Littleton, a professor in the department of pharmaceutical sciences at the University of Kentucky. “Prolonged high levels of brain cortisol after withdrawal from alcohol may explain the strength of these cues and many of the symptoms of protracted withdrawal.”

13

It impairs judgment.

drinking vision driving - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

People usually associate college days with late-night parties and binge drinking. And while you may have regretted a few decisions you made while inebriated, these said behaviors have led science to make a little more sense of them. A study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research tracked the drinking habits of college students and found that binge drinking at a younger age and prolonged binge drinking are associated with disadvantageous decision making. To come to this finding, researchers classified 200 college students into four different groups: low binge drinkers, stable moderate binge drinkers, increasing binge drinkers, and stable high binge drinkers who all took a stab at the Iowa Gambling Task (IGT). The results showed that the binge-drinking group made less advantageous choices on the IGT than the low binge-drinking group and that gender didn’t play a role in decision making.

14

It impairs formation of long-term memories.

man holding headShutterstock

According to a report in the NIH, drinking excessively can impair the formation of new long-term “explicit” memories of events and facts (such as names and phone numbers). Researchers concluded that people’s decreased ability to transfer info from short-term storage to long-term can begin at just one or two drinks.

“Alcohol’s effect is greater on short compared with long term memory but both can be affected,” Dr. Johnson tells us. “With short-term memory, there may be specific damage to a structure called the mammillary bodies. With chronic heavy alcohol use, there is impairment of neuronal transmission particularly in the pre-frontal cortex (which is associated with executive function and decision making), and alcohol-induced dementia can develop.” However, alcohol’s effect on memory take years of heavy drinking to develop, he tells us.

15

It can cause brain damage.

sick brain - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

In a small study in the Journal of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism, seven women and eight men drank alcohol until their BACs reached 0.05 to 0.06 percent, and then underwent MRIs. Creatine, which supports energy metabolism and protects brain cells, and choline, which is present in cell membranes, both decreased in the presence of alcohol. Researchers hypothesize that alcohol, therefore, triggers changes in cell membranes’ make-up. “Our follow-ups on the next day showed that the shifts in brain metabolites after moderate consumption of alcohol by healthy persons are completely reversible,” researcher Armin Biller at Heidelberg University Hospital says. “However, we assume that the brain’s ability to recover from the effect of alcohol decreases or is eliminated as the consumption of alcohol increases. The acute effects demonstrated in our study could possibly form the basis for the permanent brain damage that is known to occur in alcoholics,” he says, adding that additional studies should further investigate this.

16

It causes increased aggression.

alcoholic drinksShutterstock

Most people’s personality quirks are exaggerated after a couple of cosmos—and aggression is no exception. While not everyone is a victim of aggression under the influence, research in NIH suggests that people with antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) may be more prone to alcohol-related aggression than people without the disorder. Researchers blame it on the booze altering multiple brain chemicals including neurotransmitters g-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and serotonin, which are both associated with aggressive behavior.

17

You become easily distracted.

woman drinking wine by window - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

No surprise here: alcohol increases your vulnerability to distraction. So the next time your pal decides to lay a heavy story over some beers, just blame your lack of focus on science. A study in Biological Psychiatry found that alcoholics suffered from lower P3a, an index of attention—and that alcohol impaired the ability to focus on one thing while simultaneously ignoring extraneous information from distracting them from focus. Another study in Psychopharmacology found that P3a was suppressed by alcohol even with the lowest 0.3-gram-per-kilogram alcohol dose. These findings show that even a small amount of alcohol can cause involuntary attention shifting.

18

It leads to a lack of problem-solving skills.

brain with beer and liquor - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

Researchers explored how the brain’s frontal lobe functions in people with chronic alcoholism via the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and their notable findings were published in Psychiatry Research. The study’s conclusion reveals that alcoholics had the highest Inefficient Sorting scores—meaning that alcoholics often fail in finding a theme when solving a problem.

19

It can lead to alcohol dependence.

man holding head at bar with beers - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

Children who begin drinking by age 13 have a 38 percent higher risk of developing alcohol dependence later in life, the American Psychological Association reports. How so? Teen brains are different: they’re more action- and emotion-oriented because the planning and inhibition centers take longer to develop, Sandra A. Brown, PhD, a psychology and psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Diego, explains.

A study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that about 33 percent of people who reported to have started imbibing at age 17 or younger also reported experiencing alcohol dependence (AD) at some point in their lives. “Individuals who begin drinking at 17 or younger are more than three times more likely to develop AD than those who begin at age 21 or older,” Richard A. Grucza, an epidemiologist at Washington University School of Medicine and the study’s corresponding author, explains. “One compelling perspective is that people who are at high genetic risk for AD begin drinking earlier for the same reasons that they develop AD. For example, they may be more impulsive, prone to greater risk-taking, have a harder time controlling their behavior, and so on. Since delaying AOD (age at onset of drinking) by itself wouldn’t change these other factors, it wouldn’t necessarily lead to reduced AD,” Grucza says.

20

You’ll have slower movements.

slow walking - how does alcohol affect the brainShutterstock

According to a study in the British Journal of Anesthesia, ingesting alcohol leads to the slowing down of thought and physical movements, also known as psychomotor impairment. The findings revealed that general alertness and motor speed (known as choice reaction time) and dual-task secondary reaction time (such as in multitasking) both deteriorated with increasing BAC.

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The human brain

The results show that the negative effects of aging on memory aren’t necessarily permanent. “We can bring back the more superior working memory function you had when you were much younger,” the lead author said.

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