January 12, 2011

Ask the Nutritionist: Diet and Health Myths Part 1

I found the most fascinating article that even taught me some new nutrition facts. This is an article from Yahoo Health written by David Zinczenko who is the author of Eat This Not That.

Myth #1: Too much protein hurts your kidneys

Reality: Protein helps burn fat, build muscle, and won’t harm your kidneys at all

Over the past two decades, several studies have found that while protein-rich meals do increase blood flow to the kidneys, this doesn't have an adverse effect on overall kidney function.

Put the Truth to Work for You: Eat your target body weight in grams of protein daily. For example, if you're a chubby 180-pound woman and want to be a lean 160, have 160 grams of protein a day. If you're a 160-pound guy hoping to pack on 20 pounds of muscle, aim for 180 grams each day.

Myth #2: Sweet potatoes are healthier than white potatoes

Reality: They’re both healthy!

Sweet potatoes have more fiber and vitamin A, but white potatoes are higher in essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and potassium. As for the glycemic index, sweet potatoes are lower on the scale, but baked white potatoes typically aren't eaten without cheese, sour cream, or butter—all toppings that contain fat, which lowers the glycemic index of a meal.

Myth #3: Red meat causes cancer

Reality: Research says enjoy the steak!

In a 1986 study, Japanese researchers discovered cancer developing in rats that were fed "heterocyclic amines," compounds that are generated from overcooking meat under high heat. Since then, some studies of large populations have suggested a potential link between meat and cancer.

Put the Truth to Work for You: Don't stop grilling. Meat lovers who are worried about the supposed risks of grilled meat don't need to avoid burgers and steak—just trim off the burned or overcooked sections of the meat before eating.

Myth #4: High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is more fattening than regular sugar

Reality: They’re equally fattening. Beware!

Recent research has shown that fructose may cause an increase in weight by interfering with leptin, the hormone that tells us when we’re full. But both HFCS and sucrose—better known as table sugar—contain similar amounts of fructose. There's no evidence to show any differences in these two types of sugar. Both will cause weight gain when consumed in excess.

Myth #5: Too much salt causes high blood pressure

Reality: Perhaps, but too little potassium causes high blood pressure too
Large-scale scientific reviews have determined there's no reason for people with normal blood pressure to restrict their sodium intake. Now, if you already have high blood pressure, you may be "salt sensitive." As a result, reducing the amount of salt you eat could be helpful. However, people with high blood pressure who don't want to lower their salt intake can simply consume more potassium-containing foods—it's really the balance of the two minerals that matters.

Put the Truth to Work for You: Strive for a potassium-rich diet—which you can achieve by eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and legumes—and your salt intake won't matter as much. For instance, spinach, broccoli, bananas, white potatoes, and most types of beans each contain more than 400 mg potassium per serving.
Myth #6: Chocolate bars are empty calories

Reality: Dark chocolate is a health food

Cocoa is rich in flavonoids—the same heart-healthy compounds found in red wine and green tea. Its most potent form is dark chocolate. In a recent study, Greek researchers found that consuming dark chocolate containing 100 milligrams (mg) of flavonoids relaxes your blood vessels, improving bloodflow to your heart. And remember: Milk chocolate isn't as rich in flavonoids as dark, so develop a taste for the latter.

Myth #7: Gas station snacks are nutritional nightmares

Reality: Even at filling stations, you’ll find food that isn’t filling

Beef jerky is high in protein and doesn't raise your level of insulin—a hormone that signals your body to store fat.

Part 2 to continue tomorrow! Did you learn anything new from this article?

*Please note, these tips were not written by me. I found the article on Yahoo and wanted to share it with my readers.

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  1. yes, that you can have red meat, that potassium is in the items you mentioned, not just bananas, and sadly it is true, milk chocolate is not good for you :(

  2. I'd be more worried about GMOs from HFCS than getting fat from it! Gimme good old organic sugar any day ;)

  3. I couldn't agree more with the dark chocolate reality! I am a new follower by the way and love all the information on your blog. Please follow me back!


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