The Truth Behind Nutrition Folklore
Do you eat carrots because they’re good for your eyes, avoid chips because they make you break out, or not let your kids eat sugar because it will make them hyper? Unfortunately, when stacked up against medical facts, many of these beliefs are misperceptions. Test your knowledge of nutrition folklore by answering the questions below.
Do Eggs Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?
Although egg yolks (not whites) contain cholesterol (213 milligrams [mg] each, or about 70% of the daily recommended limit), many scientists think that eating foods high in saturated fats and trans-fats has a greater impact than dietary cholesterol in raising blood cholesterol levels. Still, the daily recommended limit for people with normal cholesterol levels is 300 mg per day. This means that if you eat one egg, the rest of your day’s diet needs to be very low in cholesterol.
Eggs are a source of high quality protein, and provide many vitamins and minerals, including ]]>vitamins A]]> , ]]>B6]]> , ]]>B12]]> , ]]>D]]> , ]]>and E]]> , as well as ]]>riboflavin]]> , ]]>iron]]> , phosphorus, and ]]>selenium]]> . The new US Department of Agriculture food pyramid recommends eggs as part of the “meat and beans” group, but it does not specify how often eggs should be eaten.
A study from the University of Washington has found that eating two eggs daily leads to a small but significant increase in “bad” LDL cholesterol. Other studies suggest that people vary quite significantly in how much effect egg consumption has on their cholesterol levels. Diabetics may be at increased risk of heart disease if they consume more than the one per day limit suggested by the American Diabetic Association. If your ]]>cholesterol]]> level is high, or if you have ]]>diabetes]]> , be sure to discuss the pros and cons of daily egg consumption with your doctor.
Does Eating Chocolate or Other Foods Give You Acne?
There is no scientific evidence that eating any food (chocolate, potato chips, or anything else) leads to acne. Acne results from a combination of factors such as heredity, overactive oil glands, dead skin cells that block skin pores, and from hormonal changes. However, some new research has been done that suggest that nutrition-related lifestyle factors may play a role in the development of acne. Specifically, a low glycemic index diet has been associated in one study with improvement of acne. However, more research is needed to clarify this.
Will Carrots Improve Your Vision?
It is true that carrots are rich in ]]>beta-carotene]]> , which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for sight, and that an extreme vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness. But only a small amount of beta-carotene is necessary for good vision. Thus, if you're not deficient in vitamin A (and most people aren't) your vision won't improve no matter how many carrots you eat. Nonetheless, carrots are a great contribution to your recommended fruits and veggie intake!
Does Sugar Make You Hyper?
Dozens of studies have looked at the effect of sugar on children’s behavior and none have found evidence of a “sugar high,” even in children who have ]]>attention deficit hyperactivity disorder]]> (ADHD). Keep in mind, however, that there are healthy and unhealthy sources of sugar. Natural sources of sugar, such as fruit and milk, add other important nutrients to your diet as well. This is not the case when sugar is added to foods like candy and soda.
Does Eating Chicken Noodle Soup Help You Get Over a Cold?
Researchers have not been able to prove that chicken noodle soup can cure the ]]>common cold]]> , but they have developed theories to explain the apparent healing properties of this popular home remedy. Some believe that steam from the hot soup clears congested noses and throats. Others believe that it may have inherent anti-inflammatory effects, thereby providing symptom relief. Still others say it is purely psychological. In any case, there is no known cure for the common cold. If you’re sick, what you need to do is drink fluids and get plenty of rest.
Will Eating Carbohydrates Make You Gain Weight?
Low carbohydrate diets are popular these days, but the truth of the matter is that carbohydrate foods are an important source of energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals for your body. Carbohydrates, like any other type of food, can cause you to gain weight if you burn fewer calories than you consume. So, if you want to lose weight, do so by eating less (of any type of food), exercising more, or doing a little of both. Most adults should get about 45%-65% of their calories from carbohydrates, but under special circumstances your doctor or nutritionist may advise you to follow a specific diet in which the carbohydrate content might be different.
Are Nuts Fattening?
Yes, if you eat too many. But, nuts in moderation can be exceedingly healthful additions to your diet. Although they are high in calories and fat, most types of nuts have low amounts of saturated fat (which researchers believe can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and certain kinds of cancer) and high amounts of monounsaturated fats (which may help prevent cardiovascular disease and certain kinds of cancer). Nuts are also a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamin E.
Will Eating Extra Protein Build More Muscle?
]]>Weight training]]> is the key to building and strengthening muscle. The only way to build bigger, stronger muscles is to exercise them. To fuel heavy weight training, the body needs extra calories, especially from carbohydrates. If you eat excessive amounts of protein, the extra calories will simply be stored (as fat) or burned. Two to three servings of protein-rich food will meet the daily needs of most adults.
Is Red Meat Bad For You?
Red meat, which includes beef, veal, lamb, pork, and wild game, contains saturated fat, but it also provides an excellent source of the minerals iron and ]]>zinc]]> , vitamin B12, and high quality protein. It also contains monounsaturated fat, the same type of fatty acid found in olive oil that is championed for its heart-healthy properties.
If you trim visible fat and choose lean cuts (such as round, loin, and flat-iron), you will minimize your saturated fat intake. Note, too, the “select” grade of meat is lower in fat than “choice” and “prime” grades. Also be aware that a serving size is just 2-3 ounces of cooked meat—not a whopping ½ pound or even ¼ pound. Also, try to eat meat that comes from organic farms, where the animals are allowed to graze and use of hormones or antibiotics is minimized.
Are Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Better for You Than Canned or Frozen?
Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious and fresh. In fact, fruits and vegetables sitting on grocery store shelves or in your refrigerator often lose some of their vitamins (to heat, light, and water), while frozen produce tends to keep most of its nutrients because packaging occurs right after being picked. Canned produce loses some vitamins during the heating process (particularly ]]>vitamin C]]> and ]]>thiamin]]> ), but still contains fiber and other nutrients. But bear in mind, canned vegetables are high in sodium, and canned fruits packed in syrup are high in sugar.
American Dietetic Association
United States Department of Agriculture
Canadian Council on Food and Nutrition
Dietitians of Canada
Acne. American Academy of Dermatology website. Available at: http://www.aad.org/pamphlets/acnepamp.html . Accessed July 31, 2007.
American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org . Accessed May 4, 2009.
Beef: nutrients that work as hard as you do. American Dietetic Association website.
Available at: http://www.eatright.org/Public/NutritionInformation/92_13209.cfm . Accessed July 31, 2007.
Colds and flu: time only sure cure. US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.
Available at: http://www.fda.gov/fdac/features/896_flu.html . Accessed July 31, 2007.
Cold remedies: What works, what doesn't, what can't hurt. Mayo Clinic.com website. Available at: http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/cold-remedies/ID00036. Updated February 2010. Accessed November 12, 2010.
Common eye myths. Prevent Blindness America website. Available at: http://www.preventblindness.org/eye_problems/eye_myths.html . Accessed Accessed July 31, 2007.
Kassel KS. Eating a Diet Moderate in Protein-Rich Foods. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/thisTopic.php?marketID=15&topicID=81. Updated July 2010. Accessed November 12, 2010.
Eggs. American Heart Association website. Available at: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=4547 . Accessed Accessed September 2, 2003.
Heap J. Good food/bad food: rediscover eggs! A newsletter for active adults. 2003;6:1-2.
Muscle myths. American Dietetic Association website. Available at: http://www.eatright.org/Public/NutritionInformation . Accessed September 2, 2003.
Nutrition myths 101. University of California at Los Angeles website. Available at: http://www.dining.ucla.edu/housing_site/dining/SNAC_pdf . Accessed September 2, 2003.
Smith RN, Mann NJ, Braue A, Makelainen H, Varigos GA. A low-glycemic-load diet improves symptoms in acne vulgaris patients: a randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2007;86:107-115.
Weight loss and nutrition myths. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases website. Available at: http://www.niddk.nih.gov/health/nutrit/pubs/myths/ . Accessed September 2, 2003.
Which is best, canned, frozen, or fresh? Colorado State University Cooperative Extension website. Available at: http://www.ext.colostate.edu/pubs/columnnn/nn970122.html . Accessed July 31, 2007.
Last reviewed April 2009 by ]]> Maria Adams, MS, MPH, RD]]>
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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