Last update: 06-Dec-2013 9:53 pm
Friday, December 06, 2013
Trinidad & Tobago Guardian Online
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Not all food ‘facts’ are true
“Sugar is toxic.” “Don’t eat after 7 pm.” “Avoid all white foods.” “Going gluten-free or low-glycemic is the best way to lose weight.” “All of the nutrition is in the skin of fruits and veggies.”
The statements above are like magnets—pulling us in as we walk past the magazine rack or, worse yet, when we walk down a supermarket aisle. Consumers are hungry for miracle cures and easy ways to get healthy and slim without making much of an effort to get there. But buyer beware: Not all of the so-called “facts” you read about are true and, in fact, some food myths harm more than help.
Zero grammes trans fat on the label means you’re not getting any trans fat in your food.
False! The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows any food with .5 grams of trans fat or less to claim “0 grammes trans fat” on the label. If you happen to eat several servings or a few different “trans fat-free” foods during a day, you can wind up consuming a measurable amount, which leads to increased levels of artery-clogging, bad (LDL) cholesterol. Don’t be fooled! Check the ingredient list, and if you see “hydrogenated” or “partially-hydrogenated oil” listed, step away from the package.
Sugar-free and fat-free items are practically calorie-free or very low in calories.
False! Items that decrease sugar or fat to qualify as “sugar-free” usually increase fat and sodium content and vice versa for “fat-free” (defined as less than .5 grammes of sugar or fat per serving) products. Additionally, sugar-free items can use artificial sweeteners and sugar alcohols that could cause digestive issues (gas, bloat, diarrhea ... not pretty.)
Multigrain is rich in whole grains
False! “Multigrain” simply means that several types of grains are used in the making of a product, which could also include refined grains that are less nutritionally dense. “Whole grain” is defined as containing the entire grain (bran, endosperm, and germ). If you’re looking for a whole-grain product, be sure the first ingredient listed contains the word “whole,” such as “100 per cent whole wheat.”
Be sure to still read the rest of the label because not all products containing whole grains are nutritious—they can still contain more sugar, fat or sodium than you thought you were buying.
Potatoes are carbs and therefore should be avoided
False! Potatoes may be a starchy vegetable, but they contain a powerhouse of nutrients. The carbs you should avoid are highly processed, sugar-laden types that provide little, if any, value. Potatoes, on the other hand, have more potassium than a banana, if compared gramme by gramme! They are also great sources of fibre, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus, as well as other vitamins and minerals.
Put out a welcome mat for potatoes, no matter how you slice ‘em. Additionally, sweet potatoes and yams are an excellent source of beta-carotene and, contrary to popular belief, these superfoods may actually help insulin metabolism, boost your energy and keep you feeling satiated.
White vegetables don’t have value
False! Let’s not forget that white is a colour. We’re told that the more colour a fruit or vegetable displays, the more nutrients you’ll find within, and although this is true for some produce, white vegetables still contain many essential nutrients including fibre, magnesium and potassium. Try on some white tonight with turnips, mushrooms, cauliflower or white potatoes—white works year round with these veggies.
Nuts are fatty
True and False! Although nuts do contain fat, there’s no need to be fat phobic. Most nuts contain healthy, monounsaturated fats that help promote heart health and may even stabilise blood sugar. Almonds, for example, provide a satisfying mix of protein and fat that can also help you slim down without compromising crunch and with an added bonus of fibre and calcium.
Brown eggs are healthier than white
False! This one’s easy. The only reason some eggs are brown and others are white is because the chickens that hatch the eggs have different coloured feathers! Save some green in your wallet—there’s no nutritional difference between brown and white eggs.
Gluten-free foods will help you lose weight
False! Diets free of gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) have become red-hot over the past few years, even for those without celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. If you suffer from gluten sensitivity, the products that line gluten-free aisles may help keep your symptoms at ease, but they may not keep you slim.
These products are often filled with excess fat and sugar to compensate for the lack of gluten protein. Instead, fill up on gluten-free whole grains, such as quinoa, teff, amaranth and buckwheat. The truth about gluten-free diets is here.
If you eat late, you’re doomed to become obese
False! When you eat has little to do with gaining weight. Focus instead on what you’re eating and how much you swallow. Although consuming excess calories late at night is not the healthiest practice, it’s not a direct route to tighter pants.
Prone to late-night snacking? It’s more likely that it’s habit, not hunger, that’s calling you. It’s likely that you’re not truly hungry but just bored, tired or stressed. Try turning in early to prevent aimless snacking.
Breakfast isn’t important
False! We’ve long been told that breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day, and now there are many scientific studies backing up this claim.
The ideal morning meal combines protein, complex carbs and good fats. Like the three legs of a stool, this trio supplies a nutritious breakfast guaranteed to keep you full until lunch. Try almond butter on 100% whole grain toast with berries, or Greek yogurt with a small handful of chopped almonds along with your favourite fruit. There’s no excuse for not boosting breakfast now.
(US News and World Report/ Better Than Dieting)
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