Okay, maybe “hate” is a strong word. But I have to be honest – it’s really frustrating to hear all the negative hype and misinformation about food and nutrition. So I talked to a few of my dietitian colleagues and asked them to share their #1 food and nutrition myths they love to hate. I’ll kick off the mythbusting with mine.
Myth #1: “Juice is bad.”
The simple truth is: 100% fruit juice in single 4-ounce servings is an excellent option to meet your daily fruit intake. The sad truth is that Americans continue to fall short in meeting daily recommendations for fruit – and this is most evident among individuals who don’t consume 100% fruit juice. Daily consumption of fruit continues to decline, in part, because people are drinking less 100% fruit juice. ref: Produce for Better Health Foundation. State of the plate: 2015 study on America’s consumption of fruit and vegetables 2015. Available from: http://www.PBHFoundation.org.
100% fruit juice provides all the nutrients of fruit, sometimes even in greater concentrations. For example, with 100% juice, you may get more of the polyphenols than by eating the fruit alone. I work with Welch’s and know that whole Concord grapes – with their crunchy seeds and thick skins that pop the juicy flesh right out (Concords are a “slip-skin” grape) – are pressed and heated to release as much of the polyphenols as possible from the grape. Most of the polyphenols are concentrated in the skins and seeds, which people may spit out if eaten fresh. Concords are also really hard to find throughout the year and don’t ship well (they crush easily and slide right out of their skins), so the best way to enjoy the benefits of Concord grape, including heart-health benefits, is by drinking dark purple 100% grape juice.
The bottom line is that only thing missing in fruit juice is the fiber. And as a Certified Diabetes Educator, I want to clarify that even people with diabetes can have juice – they just need to monitor the portions and the effect on their blood glucose levels – just like any other carbohydrate-containing food.
Myth #2: “Grains are unhealthy and make you gain weight.”
Not so! Whole grains are naturally low-fat, contain 10% to 15% protein; and offer loads of fiber, minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, phytochemicals, and more. They can help to protect you against cardiovascular disease, stroke, diabetes, insulin resistance, obesity, and some cancers.
There is convincing evidence that diets rich in whole grains can prevent the development of diabetes, and the fiber in whole grains can increase satiety which makes portion control easier.
If you are unfamiliar with sorghum, it’s a great time to get acquainted. As a gluten-free, ancient grain, sorghum is the fifth most important cereal grain crop in the world, mainly because it grows well in different environments. Sorghum offers many nutritional benefits including:
- Naturally high in fiber and iron, with a high protein level as well
- Rich in antioxidants, which are believed to help lower the risk of cancer, diabetes, heart disease and some neurological diseases
- Full of policosanols that may have an impact on human cardiac health
Sorghum is fantastic in soups, salads, and side dishes, as well as in chili, paella and anywhere you would use rice or other whole grains. You can even pop it like popcorn for a delicious, whole grain snack. Try some for breakfast with yogurt and fruit as an alternative to oatmeal. Yum!
Disclosure: I am a consultant for the United Sorghum Checkoff Program, I was not compensated for this post.
For more information on Sorghum:
- Recipe link: http://nutritionstarringyou.com/?s=sorghum+checkoff
- Sorghum Checkoff consumer website: http://www.sorghumcheckoff.com/simplysorghum/
Myth #3: “Nuts have too much fat.”
I have private practice clients who avoid them because they think they are too fattening! However, research proves again and again that nuts can actually promote weight-loss because of how satiating they are; they help people feel full longer and avoid the temptation of junk food. Raw nuts are filled with fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals, and GOOD, UNSATURATED fats that are heart-protective and can actually help to lower your LDL (bad) cholesterol. They also have antioxidants that can lower your risk of cancer and are good for your brain too! All nuts are delicious and healthy for you; almonds, walnuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts, etc. So mix it up and enjoy them all! Check out our recipes on www.kellyschoice.org.
Myth #4: “Hot Dogs are bad for you”
As a RD and busy mom of 3, a healthy hot dog made with simple ingredients is a terrific summer food. I’m proud to be a member of the Applegate advisory board and really believe in their products. Applegate Organic Beef Hot Dogs are made with 100% grass-fed beef that is free of artificial ingredients, preservatives, nitrates and nitrites, and contain less fat and sodium than many other brands.
Myth #5: “Eating healthfully is hard, complicated and time consuming.”
Well Actually: Eating healthfully is rather simple, and it sure doesn’t have to be time consuming. Now is the time to give up on the diet of the month club. It seems that nearly every week, someone it touting the new next best thing. But we’ve known for a mighty long time that there are many ways to a healthful diet and a healthy body. One thing they have in common is that they are based on wholesome, nutrient-dense foods. Simple: wholesome, nutrient-dense foods. Take your pick if you want your diet made up of wholesome, nutrient-dense foods from all major food groups or if you want to focus on plant-based foods only – or you could land somewhere in the middle and take a more flexitarian approach.
Eating a wholesome, nutrient-dense diet does require some planning, but it doesn’t need to take over your busy life. You’ll need to have a handful of recipes that you know you can put together quickly, and you’ll have to create a grocery list and make time to shop. But there are plenty of other things that take next to no time. Remember that perfect is the enemy of good. Strive for a good diet – or at least a better diet. Give up on perfect. Try some of these health-boosting ideas.
- Sip on a cup of brewed hot tea or brewed iced tea between meals as a way to get more health-boosting flavonoids.
- Include at least one serving of fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack.
- Eating from a 9-inch plate, make half your plate vegetables and the other half evenly divided between a protein-rich food such as beans or fish and a whole grain like brown rice or farro.
Here are a couple quick meal ideas. Lots more and hundreds of tips for healthful eating are in my second book The Overworked Person’s Guide to Better Nutrition
Mediterranean Tuna Salad
Chop marinated artichoke hearts, jarred roasted bell peppers, and Kalamata olives. Mix with drained canned tuna. Season with black pepper and capers. Dress with lemon juice and olive oil. Serve with whole-grain crackers or pita bread and a piece of fruit.
Have family members individualize their own bowls. Make each of the following (or similar) items available: prepared brown rice, drained and rinsed canned beans, diced tomatoes, diced onions, diced peppers, sliced black olives, sliced jalapeños, diced avocado, reduced-fat shredded cheese, jarred salsa, and leftover or prepared chicken or beef.
Myth #6: “You cannot eat dairy if you’re lactose intolerant.”
People with lactose intolerance can absolutely consume milk and dairy products. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends 3 daily servings of dairy foods, including those with lactose intolerance. Both the National Medical Association and the National Institute of Health expert panel also encourage the consumption of milk and dairy products for those with lactose intolerance. It is easier to start with dairy foods with lower amounts of lactose. Two of my favorites low lactose dairy foods to recommend are Greek yogurt and The Laughing Cow’s Cheese Dippers.
Disclosures: I am a nutrition partner with The Laughing Cow. I am also an ambassador at NDC.
So there you have it – the lowdown on fruit juice, grains, dairy, meat, nuts and probably the biggest myth of all – that eating healthy is difficult and time-consuming. I hope you enjoyed getting some facts instead of fearmongering, and that you’ll share some of your favorite food myths with us in the comments below or on social media! Thank you to all the dietitians out there who #Stand4Science. You know who you are J