With all the misinformation about food and nutrition floating, it’s hard to know who to trust and who has it right. And sometimes, it’s nice when someone outside of agriculture gets it! A recent article from Fitness Magazine titled “The truth about common nutrition myths” does just that.
American consumers face a constant stream of these myths – that chicken is healthier than beef, that wheat is poison, that “organic” foods contain more nutrients. Many even pay premium prices for brown eggs. Whole-wheat bread and brown rice are nutritionally superior to their white counterparts, so brown eggs must be better too, right?
Myth: Organic produce packs more nutrients than the conventional kind.
The real deal: Although buying organic fruits and veggies helps protect the environment, research published in theAmerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that they have no nutritional advantage over their conventionally grown counterparts. And while the latter contain more chemical residue, no studies have definitively proven that the amount of chemicals we ingest causes any harm: Much of the research linking pesticides with disease was done on farmers who had been exposed to huge quantities, Davis says. Still prefer organic? Spend the extra money on produce that has a peel you eat, such as apples and peaches.
Myth: A grilled-chicken sandwich beats a burger.
The real deal: This seemingly healthy favorite not only contains more calories — roughly 350 versus 250 — than a plain hamburger, but it can also be a sodium bomb. “Many restaurants use chicken that has been injected with a saltwater solution to keep it moist,” says Stephen Sinatra, MD, a cardiologist in Saint Petersburg, Florida, and a coauthor of The Fast Food Diet. Even a no-frills chicken sandwich with just lettuce, tomato, and mayo can pack more than 1,300 milligrams of sodium. That’s more than double the amount in a burger and more than half of your daily quota.
Worried about a burger’s toll on your heart? Don’t be. A recent study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that people who ate about five ounces of lean beef daily as part of a healthy diet lowered their cholesterol level by the same amount as those who ate less beef.
Myth: Wheat is wicked.
The real deal: With celebrities such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Lady Gaga praising gluten-free diets, it comes as no surprise that sales of products made without gluten — a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye — have nearly tripled since 2006. But unless you’re one of the estimated 7 percent of people in the United States with celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity, there’s no need to avoid the stuff.
“Wheat is packed with important nutrients, including folate,” says Jessica Crandall, RD, a dietitian in Denver and a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Few gluten-free breads, cereals, or pastas, meanwhile, are a good source of folate, a B vitamin. “Shun whole grains completely and you may even wind up gaining weight,” says Bonnie Taub-Dix, RD, the author ofRead It Before You Eat It. That’s because they boost the level of the feel-good chemical serotonin in your brain, so if you skip them, chances are you’ll feel unsatisfied and wind up snacking unnecessarily.
Myth: Brown eggs are better than white.
The real deal: Despite their higher price tag (they can cost up to 20 percent more), brown eggs aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. “Although they look more wholesome, they have the same nutritional breakdown as the white kind,” Crandall says. “They simply come from a different breed of hen.”
Instead, put your extra dollars toward omega-3-enriched eggs, which can deliver more than 600 milligrams of these heart-healthy fats, compared with the 30 milligrams provided by the regular kind. Researchers found that people who ate fortified eggs daily experienced a 32 percent decrease in their triglyceride level. For the biggest benefit, look for brands that contain both EPA and DHA, two easy-to-absorb omega-3s.
Myth: High-fructose corn syrup is worse for you than sugar.
The real deal: It’s been blamed for America’s obesity crisis, but experts say that high-fructose corn syrup doesn’t pave the way for weight gain any more than other sweeteners do. “From a biochemical standpoint, it’s no different from sucrose, or table sugar,” says Marion Nestle, PhD, a professor of nutrition, food studies, and public health at New York University and a coauthor of Why Calories Count: From Science to Politics. “It has the same number of calories, and the body processes both of them the same way.”
The problem is that high-fructose corn syrup is extremely cheap, so manufacturers add it to countless products. As a result, Americans are consuming more of the sweet stuff than ever before. The bottom line: Limit your consumption of all added sugar, which can appear on labels as “dextrose,” “maltose,” “beet sugar,” and “fruit juice concentrate.”
The article also refutes common myths about salt, raw foods, fruits, fried food and wine.
Read the full article.