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5 weird things fast food does to your brain

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Here’s one way to get cultured: kick your McDonald’s habit. Exposure to fast food makes it harder to appreciate beautiful art and music, finds a new University of Toronto study.

Researchers found that just seeing fast-food restaurants and logos—not even necessarily eating it—can trigger impatience and make it more difficult to savor enjoyable experiences, like listening to an opera or looking at photos of nature. How come? Fast food brings to mind speed and instant gratification, both of which make you more restless, says study coauthor Sanford DeVoe.

We don't need to remind you what fast food can do to your body, but you might not know these surprising ways it can screw with your brain:

Burger King could blow up your bank account. Simply walking by a fast food joint can mess with your financial sense. In another study from the same Toronto researchers, participants were offered the choice between choosing a cash reward the next day and a slightly bigger one the next week. Those who were asked to pick while standing next to a fast-food restaurant were 40 percent more likely to opt for the smaller, speedier payout than those who were questioned near a full-service eatery. Four similar experiments all linked the presence of fast-food places to impatient, I-want-it-now! financial decisions.

You're right not to trust so-called "healthy" options. Order smart with these 7 Rules of Healthy Fast Food.

The golden arches make you hungrier. Ever wonder why so many fast-food chains use the same colors in their logos? The marketing scheme is no coincidence. Studies have found that seeing the combination of red and yellow helps kickstart your metabolism, increasing hunger. 

Eat more, stay full longer, and still lose serious weight with these 7 Ways to Outsmart Hunger.

Taco Bell may give you the blues. Canadian researchers found mice that followed a high-fat diet felt more anxious after 6 weeks than rodents on a low-fat plan. That’s because eating foods high in sugar and fat actually changes the chemical activity in your brain, causing signs of withdrawal and depression if you stop consuming them, according to the study.

Sonic can leave you strung out. A Scripps Research Institute study found that when rats eat fatty, sugar-laden foods—like those found on fast-food menus—in large enough quantities, it can lead to compulsive overeating habits that are similar to drug addiction. In another recent study at Connecticut College, lab rats crawled just as close to Oreos as they did toward cocaine or morphine injections. When scientists peered into the animals’ brains, they found rodents that munched on the cream-filled cookies showed even greater activation in their pleasure centers than those that received drugs. 

Keep your mind in tip-top shape with these 13 Brain-Boosting Foods.

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