By Rebecca Cline
Another New Year has begun, and one of the most commonly heard mottos is, “New Year, New Me!” Many people believe that only BIG changes will make a difference to their health and well-being. The truth lies within the small, consistent lifestyle changes that play great impacts on overall health. The first of the year is a great opportunity to start making positive changes in your life; however, it can be difficult practicing healthy behaviors with all the nutrition myths floating around. As you are striving towards a healthier you, you should know the real truth behind some of the popular sayings you’ve heard about food. Jumpstart your New Year by beating these nutrition myths as you plan your healthy lifestyle alterations.
Myth #1: I should avoid fruit because it has a lot of sugar. Yes, fruit does contain sugar; however, it is the good type of sugar. When sugar is found naturally in foods like fruit, many vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber are all present. Your body is able to quickly metabolize this type of sugar as opposed to foods with added sugars, such as candy, doughnuts, and concentrated sweets. Fruit is essential for a bountiful diet with vital nutrients, so do not be afraid to enjoy nature’s candy in your daily consumption.
Myth #2: Snacking at night makes you gain weight. Snacking at any time will still be calories, whether it is at night, in the morning, or midday. What really matters are the type of snacks you graze on and the total amount of calories you take in throughout the day. It is better to choose items like carrots and hummus, cottage cheese, or pretzels rather than a bag of chips or candy bar.
Myth #3: Eggs are bad for my heart. Though eggs do contain cholesterol, research has shown that eggs actually do not affect your blood cholesterol. Your body makes its own cholesterol, so it does not need the dietary kind that you consume from foods. Moreover, egg yolks actually provide omega-3 fatty acids, which are good for heart and overall health. The foods that you should be considerate of for your heart would be ones containing sugar and saturated fats; these are what fuel your body’s cholesterol-making machine.
Myth #4: Carbohydrates make you fat. A misconception people usually have is that carbs cause weight gain. While many have successfully lost weight from low-carb and no-carb diets, know that you do not need to be afraid to consume this macronutrient if weight loss is a goal of yours. However, there is a big difference between the bad carbs and the good carbs. Bad carbohydrates consist of fried foods, pasta, white bread, and doughnuts that can all lead to health problems like diabetes or heart disease. Meanwhile, the good carbs, such as fruits, whole grains, and beans, contain a plethora of nutrients and fiber needed to sustain optimal health. Know the appropriate type of carbohydrate to eat so that your body does not miss out on its main source of energy.
Myth #5: Choosing a low-fat or fat-free food is always best. This can be a great option for you when you are trying to watch your fat intake and possibly cut out calories. On the other hand, understand that fat has a lot of flavor, and when it is taken out of a product, manufacturers tend to add sugar or other chemicals in order to improve the taste and texture. Low-fat and fat-free items can be great substitutions, but beware of secret ingredients the company sneaks into those products. Reading the nutrition label will help determine how many grams of sugar are in the product or any foreign ingredients added. (I typically say, if you can’t pronounce the ingredient, it is not worth putting in your body).
Myth #6: Organic foods are more nutritious than regular produce. When something is organic, it means that it is natural from the way it is produced. The crops do not include any type of pesticides or chemicals during fertilization. This farming method, however, has nothing to do with the amount of “nutrition” the product contains. Nutrient-wise, an organic apple and a regular apple both contain the same amount of vitamins and minerals. Chemical-wise, the regular apple contains pesticides while the organic one does not; this is typically an ideal reason for purchasing an organic product. However, a simple wash for the regular produce before eating is just fine too.