Losing weight, staying healthy and getting fit consistently rank as top New Year’s resolutions. But the quest for good health also takes unwanted detours thanks to bad information. One friend posts one paid-for blog post about a miracle diet and suddenly your whole squad is eating grapefruits and drinking diet soda. Vanessa Cunningham, nutrition and wellness expert Unhealthy No More Inc., a lifestyle coaching firm, helped me cut through the junk—food and information—by debunking five health food myths.
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Organic Means Healthy
Organic is popping up on labels everywhere so often it might as well be the new fat-free. But like fat-free, organic food is not always healthy. “The term organic refers to way farmers grow and process agricultural products, such as fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy and meat,” Cunningham said. Organic farming reduces exposure to toxic chemicals, antibiotics, hormone and genetic engineering inclusion–which conventional farming utilizes. “Bottom line: It refers to quality of ingredients, and proper food production and handling. While that’s a good thing, it doesn’t mean that because you see an organic label on something that it means go full throttle and eat tons it.” Those cookies with a USDA organic seal are not healthier than a conventionally grown apple. Sorry.
Eggs Are Bad For You
“For years eggs have received a bad rap for being too high in cholesterol and saturated fat.” These days, the favorite breakfast food is making a comeback. Research published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016 showed that focusing on one aspect of the nutrition label, such as cholesterol in eggs, doesn’t paint the entire picture of its health value. Eggs boast six grams of protein and contain “antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, which are critical for eye and skin protection.” A 2008 study by Luc Djousse and J. Michael Gaziano published in the peer-reviewed American Heart Association journal Circulation found that an occasional egg is not associated with the risk of heart failure but that consuming one or more every day is. Cunningham suggested eating one about three times per week. “For those that have trouble controlling their cholesterol levels, [eat] a max of three egg yolks a week. Egg whites can still be consumed as the cholesterol is in the yolk but consult with a doctor [first].”
Frozen Fruits And Veggies Aren’t That Nutritious
Don’t fear the freezer. A 2007 study conducted by Joy C. Rickman, Diane M. Barrett and Christine M. Bruhn of the Department of Food Science and Technology at UC-Davis found that the nutritional value of frozen fruits and veggies are equal too and sometimes even better than their fresh counterparts. “Since a large number of Americans don’t consume the recommended 5-9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, keeping a stash of frozen produce will save you some time and reduce your trips to the grocery store.” Now you can get to that weekly fitness class you resolved to log each week.
Diet Soda is Better Than Regular Soda
“Contrary to popular belief, the risk of diabetes and obesity is actually higher as a result of drinking diet beverages versus regular beverages.” A 14-year study of more than 66,000 women published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2013 backed Cunningham up. According to another one, published by University of Texas researchers in 2013, people who consume three diet sodas per week are 40 percent more likely to be obese.
Eating Fat Makes You Fat
It sounds like a logical progression: eat fat, gain inches on your waistline. Not so, said Cunningham. “Eating fat doesn’t make you fat. In fact, consuming healthy fats are beneficial to your cells, hormones, overall health and wellness.” Cunningham advised to opt for healthy fats, such as monounsaturated, medium chain triglycerides and essential fatty acids, which can be found in olive oil, nuts and seeds, nut butters and avocados. “The types of fat to avoid are trans fat.” Steer clear of margarine, corn oils and shortening.