Before you take a bite of that burger, read this. (Photo: Daniel R. Blume/Flickr)
Ever wonder what exactly happens in your body when you chow down on a fast food hamburger? We asked food and nutrition experts Keri Gans, RD, author of The Small Change Diet, and Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, author of Read It Before You Eat It, to weigh in with the good, the bad, and the ugly of what happens shortly after your body digests that burger, as well as what can happen in the long-term if you make it a habit.
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(Infographic: Priscilla DeCastro for Yahoo Health/Getty Images)
BRAIN: There’s a reason hamburgers are considered comfort food — the burger’s red meat contains the relaxing amino acid tryptophan, which helps your body produce the feel-good hormone serotonin, giving you a mood boost.
HEART: Saturated fat is commonly found in red meat, including burgers. Over time, a diet high in saturated fat ups the risk heart disease and stroke and may increase the risk of certain cancers. Burgers high in salt can cause your body to retain fluids, which not only make you feel bloated, but also force your heart to work harder, which increases blood pressure.
BLOODSTREAM: Damage to arteries occurs after eating just one fast food meal, according to a 2012 study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology. Over time, the saturated fat in red meat can increase cholesterol levels. On the plus side, red meat is rich in iron, something many women in their childbearing years are lacking. It also provides vitamin B12, which keeps red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which may promote a strong immune system.
BLOOD SUGAR: Refined carbohydrates in the burger bun are quickly digested and cause blood sugar levels to spike. In the long-term, a diet high in refined carbs can up your risk of Type 2 diabetes.
BONES AND MUSCLES: Red meat is a good source of protein, which provides immediate energy and helps build bones and muscles in the long-term.
BODY WEIGHT: Fast food burgers are often high in calories. Over time, those calories can lead to weight gain, which puts you at risk for several diseases, including Type 2 diabetes.
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