Almost daily, I’m asked to separate nutrition fact from fiction, so I decided to compile the 10 questions I’m most frequently asked and set the record straight!
Q. During pregnancy, fish consumption should be limited due to concerns about Mercury.
A. Myth! A great deal of confusion exists about the risks and benefits of fish consumption during pregnancy. Here are the facts: The American Heart Association and the USDA suggest that pregnant women eat 12 ounces of fish a week. That’s the equivalent of three tuna sandwiches. And tuna and salmon are safe to eat. They actually provide key nutrients (folic acid, vitamin D, omega-three fatty acids, iron and calcium) that are essential to the development of a healthy fetus. There are only FOUR fish which should be avoided during pregnancy: Shark, Swordfish, Tilefish, King Mackerel.
Q. You should not eat before you exercise, or you won’t burn fat.
A. Myth! When you expend energy by exercising, you need to consume extra energy to fuel the activity. How much you should eat depends on the type and duration of your workout and the time of day.
Q. The body needs to detox at least once a year.
A. Myth! While “detoxing” might sound good, it’s really unnecessary, and in some cases, it can be harmful and have unwanted side effects. It is important to know that our bodies have their own built-in ways of detoxifying. In most instances our colon, liver, kidneys, lungs, lymph glands and skin have the ability to filter, neutralize or eliminate these toxins.
Q. Avoid eating after 7:00 PM.
A. Myth! People gain weight because they consume more calories than they burn. Many studies have shown no link between eating at night and weight gain. However, skipping breakfast and gaining weight ARE linked, since they spread their caloric consumption more evenly throughout the day.
Q. Caffeinated beverages are dehydrating.
A. Myth! You have probably heard that caffeinated beverages don’t count toward your water requirements, but recent studies have shown that coffee, tea and caffeinated beverages are just as hydrating as water. So, if you regularly enjoy your java or Diet soda, you’ll be happy to know the Institute of Medicine recently concluded that these beverages do contribute to your daily water needs.
Q. Meat is the best source of protein.
A. Myth! Animal protein and vegetable protein have the same effects on health. It’s the protein package that’s likely to make a difference. A 6-ounce broiled porterhouse steak is a great source of protein—38 grams worth – but it also has 44 grams of fat! So when choosing protein-rich foods, pay attention to what comes along with the protein. Vegetable sources of protein, such as beans, nuts, and whole grains, are excellent choices, and they offer healthy fiber, vitamins and minerals. The best animal protein choices are fish and poultry.
Q. Eggs will increase your cholesterol.
A. Myth! Eating one egg per day will not significantly increase blood cholesterol levels. The goal is to limit total cholesterol consumption to less than 300 mg per day. An egg has 200 mg.
Q. Frozen fruit and vegetables are not as healthy as fresh fruit and vegetables.
A. Myth! Frozen and canned fruit and vegetables are as healthy and as good for you as fresh. That’s because frozen and canned fruits and vegetables are processed soon after picking and are very high in healthy vitamins. For example frozen spinach is higher in vitamin C than fresh spinach stored for more than one day at room temperature. Another advantage is that frozen and canned fruit and vegetables are easy to store and always on hand. Using frozen and canned vegetables and fruit is a quick way of feeding the family well because there isn’t a lot of chopping and peeling.
Q. You must avoid eating refined carbohydrates to lose weight.
A. Myth! Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the real problem is that, as a nation, we’re eating more. More carbs, yes. But also more fat. We eat too much, and we are continuing to increase our calorie intake. And when you do that, you’re going to gain weight unless you increase your energy expenditure.
Q. Organic foods are safer and more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.
A. Myth! While some studies have found slightly higher levels of some nutrients in organic foods, there is little evidence to support any significant difference between organic and conventionally grown food. More important than worrying about how a food has been grown, make sure you’re consuming a varied, nutrient-rich diet on a daily basis.