Now more than ever, it is difficult to distinguish one piece of nutrition advice from another. Low-carb? No-carb? Organic? Vegan? Raw? With all these buzz words floating around, plus marketing ploys, social stigma, pseudo-science, and media and celebrity hype, it can be dizzying for consumers that are striving to eat healthfully and set a positive example for their families. The American Dietetic Association seeks to clear up some confusion and clarify six of the most common and enduring food myths.
Myth: Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier than frozen or canned.
Fact: Research has proven that frozen and canned foods are just as nutritious as fresh. In fact, some nutrients, such as lycopene (found in tomatoes), are more readily absorbed in the body once they are processed, so canned fruits and vegetables can sometimes be the better option.
Myth: Body weight is a reliable indicator of a healthful diet.
Fact: Although two people can share the same body weight, the amount of muscle and fat that they carry can differ dramatically. Overall health is a combined measure of many factors, only one of which is body weight.
Myth: Eating carbohydrates causes weight gain.
Fact: Excess calories cause weight gain. Calories from carbohydrates are no more fattening than calories from any other source. Despite the claims of many low-carb diet books, a high-carbohydrate diet does not promote fat storage by enhancing insulin resistance.
Myth: Eating just before bedtime is fattening.
Fact: What you eat, not when, is what makes the difference. Calories have the same effect on the body no matter when they are eaten, Evidence does suggest that eating regular meals, especially breakfast, helps promote weight loss by reducing fat intake and minimizing mindless snacking. Meanwhile for those who have to resort to medical intervention, before undergoing weight loss surgery, patients are required to follow a strict pre-operative diet and exercise regimen.
Myth: Eating sugar causes diabetes.
Fact: Diabetes is caused by the inability of the pancreas to make and release insulin. Since foods that are high in sugar are also often high in calories, overeating those foods can cause weight gain. Becoming overweight or obese increases your risk of developing diabetes.
Myth: Occasionally following a fad dietis a safe way to quickly lose weight.
Fact: Many fad diets are developed by people with no science or nutrition background, and some fad diets can be considered harmful. When trying to lose weight, consult a registered dietitian to help you develop a healthy and balanced eating plan.
For more information and resources on healthy eating, or to find a registered dietitian in your area, visit the ADA website at www.eatright.org.