Healthy Ideas: Five Nutrition Myths Debunked

Fact myth concept
Fact myth concept (BernardaSv, Carroll County Times)

With all the nutrition information and misinformation out there, it can be very difficult to sift through it all and make the best choices for you and your family. Today, I'm going to clear up five common nutrition myths to help you navigate the aisles next time you go food shopping.

1. MYTH: 'Natural' foods are healthier.

TRUTH: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet developed a definition for use of the term 'natural'. There is a misperception around the term 'natural' that causes us to believe it just might be healthier, however that may not always be the case. For example, arsenic is natural but would you consider that healthy? Always read the labels and check the ingredient list to make the best choice.

2. MYTH: Eggs are bad for your heart

TRUTH: Before we throw eggs under the bus, let's look at the facts. It's true that eggs contain cholesterol (1 large egg contains about 211 mg) and it's also true that cholesterol is the fatty substance in our blood that contributes to heart disease. However, for most of us, the cholesterol we eat does not have a huge impact on our blood cholesterol levels, instead saturated fats and trans fats are the major culprits for heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends limiting your dietary cholesterol intake to less than 300 mg per day - and less than 200 mg per day if you have a history of heart disease.

3. MYTH: Carbohydrates cause weight gain.

TRUTH: Contrary to the belief of many fad diets out there, carbohydrates do not cause weight gain - it's the overconsumption of overall calories that cause you to gain weight. Period. Research shows that those following a low-carb diet do prove to lose more weight initially - due to the body burning stored glycogen (carbohydrates) for energy which causes you to lose water weight, however over 1-3 years, those numbers even out when compared to those following a more balanced diet approach.

4. MYTH: Don't eat anything after 8:00 pm.

TRUTH: Calories are calories no matter when they are eaten. There is no special hour in which our bodies decide to start storing food as fat. If dinner happens to be late one evening or you get hungry for a snack before bed, there is no harm in fueling your body. It's important to remember that you want to ideally balance your calories out throughout the day, instead of "saving" them up for late-night snacking. Think...'Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper'...so you burn the majority of your calories as you go about your day.

5. MYTH: Eating healthy is expensive.

TRUTH: Eating better does not have to break the bank. Many people think that fresh foods are healthier than canned or frozen ones. For example, some people think that spinach is better for you raw than frozen or canned. However, canned or frozen fruits and veggies can provide as many nutrients as fresh ones, and at a lower cost. Healthier options include low-salt or no salt added canned veggies and fruit canned in its own juice or no sugar added. Remember to rinse canned veggies to remove excess salt. Also, some canned seafood, like tuna or salmon, are shelf-stable, lean proteins, and economical. And canned, dried, or frozen beans, lentils, and peas are also healthy lean sources of protein that are easy on the wallet. Remember, to also buy fresh produce in season to get the most nutrition at the best price.

Be on the lookout for future nutrition myths that may come your way. Here are a few tips on how to spot them:

-Look for red flags such as promises that sound too good to be true or extreme statements

-Take a step back, and think critically about the claims being made

-Ask your local Registered Dietitian for advice

-Remember, there is no magic bullet. The key to a healthy lifestyle is a balanced diet and time.

Elisabeth D'Alto, RD, LDN is an in-store nutritionist at the Eldersburg MARTIN'S Food Markets located at 1320 Londontown Boulevard. For more Healthy Ideas, visit http://www.martinsfoods.com/healthyideas.

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