Sunday, August 31, 2014

Nutrition Myths vs Truths

How many times have we heard something about nutrition that we wonder, “Is that really true?”.  In class I showed a video about nutrition and the nutritionist stated potato skins are healthy.  Is this really true?   You may have heard nuts are fattening.  Is that true or a myth?  So here are some myths vs truths you may have heard and the real truth.
Nuts are fattening – it is is true that nuts are higher in calories than some foods.  But they have recently discovered that almonds and perhaps all nuts have less calories than previously thought.  USDA researchers have found that almonds provide 130 calories per ounce, not the 170 calories they thought and you may still find on nutrition labels.  Why?  USDA was measuring all the calories in almonds and not the calories we digest.  Turns out we don’t absorb all the calories in almonds.  So enjoy almonds and other nuts.  A handful of nuts a day is actually a healthy habit.  Nuts are very nutritious and the fat in nuts is heart healthy.
Potato skins have all the nutrients – not exactly true but it is true that potato skins are full of nutrients and may be the healthiest part of the potato.  I love baked potatoes and often eat the skin.  The potato skin has fiber, many minerals: potassium, calcium, iron and vitamins including vitamin C and many B vitamins.  Wash the potato well before cooking; remove any sprouts or any areas with a green tinge.  We also like to buy the French fries with the skin on.  Many people think potatoes aren’t healthy but potatoes offer a lot of nutrients.  According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “If you eat a medium baked potato, including the skin, you’ll get nearly 4 grams of fiber, 2 milligrams of iron, and 926 grams of potassium.”
Brown Bread is whole grain – so many people are fooled as to what is whole grain and what isn’t.  The only way to be sure is to look at the ingredients.  If the first ingredient is “WHOLE” such as whole wheat flour, whole rye flour, then the product is all or mostly whole grain.  If the first ingredient is “enriched” then it is not mostly whole grain, even if later in the ingredient list it has some whole grain.  Oatmeal, brown rice are also who grain as is quinoa.   But a manufacturer that dyes bread brown doesn’t make the bread whole grain.   A student asked me if rye bread was whole grain.  Certainly a dark color but every brand of rye bread I looked at in the store was not made with whole rye flour.   I did find some imported whole grain rye bread from Germany at World Market but couldn’t find any whole grain rye bread in the local food stores. 
Grapefruit can have drug interactions – quite true.  I was at a conference once and an attendee suddenly felt ill, dizzy and passed out.  An ambulance was called.  Turns out she drank grapefruit juice and was on a medication that was adversely affected by grapefruit juice.  For those of us not on these drugs, grapefruit juice is healthy and would not cause any ill effects.  But some medications such as cholesterol-lowering statins, HIV drugs, and antidepressants can interact with grapefruit or grapefruit juice.  In fact there are about 85 such medications.  If you want a list of such medications, you can go to  Some meds have a low risk of interaction and some higher.
There are many, many nutrition myths.  Relying on good and reliable sources of information on nutrition can help decipher the myths from the real truth.

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