Conflicting information regularly circulates through the news and social media about what is actually healthy for us to eat. First it was low-fat, then no sugar, then high-carb, low-carb, high-fat, no meat - why does it keep changing?
First and foremost, nutrition is not one-size fits all. Our bodies require different combinations of nutrients to find balance, but there are still some pretty solid rules for what is generally good for us. Although some things do change as new research is released, there are some basic myths about nutrition that we are happy to bust.
The Top 7 Nutrition Myths - Busted!
If you can't get fresh vegetables, frozen is the next best thing.
Vegetables and fruits are frozen in their peak of freshness before packaged and sent to your grocer's freezer. Sometimes they are blanched first (to kill harmful bacteria), which does damage some of the nutritional value, but not very much. Since fresh fruits and vegetables are usually picked before they are ripe to allow transportation time from farms, they lose valuable nutrition-gaining time in the soil. Buy local, seasonal fruits and vegetables whenever possible (preferably directly from the farmer) to reap the most nutritional value. When it is not possible, frozen is great!
If food is labeled "natural" then it is probably more nutritious.
Sadly, there is no regulation by the FDA for use of the word "natural" on food packaging. This means that companies can slap that label willy-nilly on whatever they want! Just because companies are going with the trend of labeling their foods as "now healthier than ever" or "100% natural" doesn't mean they've altered the ingredients to make them more nutritious. It's better to stick to whole fruits and vegetables, and as unpackaged and unprocessed as possible.
Switching to low-fat milk in your vanilla latte will help you lose weight.
It turns out the sugar in the vanilla syrup will do more harm than the fat in milk. Weight loss and good health isn't achieved by just reducing your calories, it's about changing the quality of the calories you consume. It's better to do without the sugar (bad calories) rather than switching to low-fat, and don't think that sugar-free vanilla is better either. The artificial sweetener will work against you (see below).
Switching to diet soda will help you lose weight.
Think that switching from full-sugar soda to diet will help slim down your waistline? Research shows that the opposite is true. Consuming artificial sweeteners has been shown to lead to higher calorie intake overall throughout the day, and one study from the University of Texas found that people were 40% more likely to be obese if they consumed just 3 diet sodas per week! Since artificial sweeteners cause a signal problem between linking your palate and true energy value, that means your body will eventually stop associating sweetness with a feeling of fullness. Therefore you'll have a tendency to eat more, and in turn gain weight. Try using True Citrus with carbonated water instead of diet soda. You can thank us later!
It's better to use butter rather than low-fat margarine.
The trans fatty acids in margarine do much more harm in your body than the naturally occurring animal fat found in butter. Although butter should be used in moderation, the American Heart Association actually recommends to avoid trans fatty acids all together. Another great alternative? Coconut oil.
Eggs (specifically egg yolks) are bad for you because of their high cholesterol content.
New research has shown that saturated and trans fat are what raise blood cholesterol levels, not the cholesterol found in food. Eggs are a healthy source of protein, and a great snack to have in place of sugary granola bars.
Eating a diet heavy in plants (and low in animal products) is the best start to good overall health.
Although meat, dairy products, and eggs have their nutritious qualities, choosing to eat higher amounts of fruits and vegetables will do wonders for your health. From lowering the risk of heart disease, cancer, obesity, and diabetes, eating a wide array of colorful fruits and vegetables is a huge step in the right direction for promoting and maintaining overall health and wellness.
New research is being released by scientific studies every day, so it's always best to use common sense when creating a balanced diet. We are all different, and although for some a vegan or vegetarian diet is ideal others can benefit from regular servings of grass-fed meats. Consult your doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist for what the best plan of action is for you.
[Credit: Ricia Taylor, RD. Confused About Nutrition? Four Nutrition Myths Debunked. Kaiser Permanente.]
[Credit: Zinczenko, David. 30 Nutrition Myths - BUSTED! Eat This, Not That.]