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There’s countless advice out there on how to eat healthy, but this is often hard to do when false information about nutritious foods has become so commonplace. We’re unknowingly spoon-fed food falsities on a daily basis – most of which usually contain a kernel of truth, but leave out significant details that are important to keep in mind for our health.
We’ve listened to these age-old food fables for years, but now it’s time to get it straight. The next time you hear the following nutrition nuances, make sure you can separate these six food facts from fiction:
“Carbohydrates make you fat.”
Carbohydrates are the primary and preferred fuel source for your muscles and brain. There is nothing inherently fattening about carbs. But eating more of any kind of food than your body needs will lead to weight gain. Instead, load up on the “good carbs,” such as whole grains, fruit and veggies, and avoid sugary and refined carbs such as white bread, doughnuts and pasta in order to prevent disease and ensure you’re getting a healthy amount of vital nutrients and fiber.
“Multigrain is rich in whole grains.”
Multigrain and whole grain aren’t interchangeable terms. Multigrain means that a food contains more than one type of grain, whereas whole-grain foods contain all parts of the grain kernel, including the bran, germ and endosperm. Sometimes, whole grains aren’t even one of the grains included in multigrain foods. When choosing between the two, whole grain is the healthier option, containing the most nutrients, fiber and other plant compounds found naturally in the grain.
“Eggs are bad for your heart.”
While eggs do contain cholesterol (about 200 milligrams per yolk), they also contain many beneficial nutrients such as protein, iron, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin B12 and D. Cholesterol is an important nutrient in the body. In fact, cholesterol is a requirement for growth and hormone production and is contained in every cell membrane. Additionally, the cholesterol you eat has little impact on how much cholesterol is in your blood. The liver produces cholesterol, and when you eat more of it, your body produces less. In contrast, when you eat less cholesterol, your body produces more. Most people can eat one egg per day without having any health issues. It’s usually the foods that accompany eggs that are the problem – the sausage, bacon, pancakes and syrup.
“Oranges have the most vitamin C.”
When it comes to vitamins, it’s important to know which foods pack the most punch. Despite their reputation of being loaded with vitamin C, oranges actually provide less than many other common fruits and veggies. For instance, a cup of chopped red bell pepper contains almost three times more vitamin Cthan an orange, and just a half cup of chili peppers contains 107.8 milligrams of the vitamin, compared to the 69.7 mg contained in a medium orange. These foods not only provide the amount of C you need, but they’re also a good source of other helpful vitamins. Capsaicin, the ingredient that makes red bell peppers hot, can help reduce joint or muscle pain, and red bell peppers are loaded with vitamin A, which promotes eye health. You can also get your fill of vitamin C by eating broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, guava, papaya, strawberries or kiwi.
“It burns more calories to chew celery than to take it in.”
Many think that eating celery can cause weight loss, since celery only contains about six calories, and the process of digesting food burns energy. While this sounds good in theory, the truth is that the calories you need for digestion won’t ever be more than the number of calories any type of food contains. However, this non-starchy, low-calorie veggie – just like cucumbers or iceberg lettuce – can help you lose weight, as its fiber and water content will keep you feeling fuller for longer. So keep munching on these veggies when you hit the salad bar.
“Microwaving food reduces its key nutrients.”
If you do it right, cooking food in the microwave is actually one of the best ways to retain your food’s vitamins and minerals. Microwave cooking often uses less water and allows for a shorter cook time; therefore, it can help minimize nutrient loss. But the longer a food cooks and the higher the temperature, the more it’ll lose certain heat and water-soluble nutrients such as vitamin B and C. It’s the heat and cook time that affects nutrient losses, not the cooking method itself.
Knowing the difference between food fiction and fact will help you stay in line with your health and your diet. However, despite what you may hear, the best course for fighting disease and staying healthy is a well-balanced diet, adequate sleep and regular exercise. Remembering these facts can help you get there.
By Lauren Popeck