The best nutrition is based on science and fact. This fact sheet lists some nutrition myth-information for hot topics.
Many folks are switching from their unsaturated or monounsaturated fats to the saturated coconut oil touted as promoting heart health, improving blood lipid levels and stimulating metabolism and helping with weight loss.
The Facts: Studies show that these claims are unsubstantiated. A vast majority of scientific evidence shows that a diet high in saturated fats raises the LDL levels in blood, promotes arteriosclerosis and coronary artery disease.
One of the hottest new diets uses the concept of glycemic index and glycemic load as a way to control or lose weight. Glycemic index assigns a numeric value to food based on how rapidly it raises blood sugar levels based on a reference food. These diets proclaim that those eating diets with lower GI and GL will lose weight easier.
The Facts: Two recent studies have show that GI and GL have little effect on weight loss. If you want to lose weight concentrate on food high in fiber and low in calories: like fruit, vegetables and whole grains while reducing the foods with low nutrient density eaten.
Folks frequently question the difference between sea salt, flavored salts and other higher priced salts and their nutritional values. Some claims state at these “special” salts do not have the same affect on blood pressure as “regular” table salts. Others suggestions include that added minerals in some of these salts are beneficial to health.
The Facts: There is no credible research that demonstrates any unique health benefits attributed to sea salt, rock salt, Himalayan salt, Kosher salt or any other salt consisting of primarily sodium chloride. The main difference between the different types of salt is the taste and texture. Kosher salt has coarse irregular crystals that may allow you to use less for the flavor and give a different taste to food. Sea salt may have small amounts of additional minerals and thusly a slightly different taste. Research has shown that the risk of cardiovascular disease is reduced when individuals consume less salt of any type. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend, “Consume less than 2,300 mg (approximately 1 tsp of salt) of sodium per day.” ‘Individuals with hypertension, blacks, and middle-aged and older adults. Aim to consume no more than 1,500 mg of sodium per day, and meet the potassium recommendation (4,700 mg/day) with food.”
Chocolate is the notorious “bad food” that everyone thinks should be avoided.
The Facts: Naturally occurring antioxidants known as flavonoids are thought to have positive heart health benefits by helping the body’s cells resist damage caused by free radicals. Flavonoids are found many foods and beverages and chocolate is one of them. Dark chocolate is recommended as having the highest amounts of these helpful antioxidants. Other sources are cranberries, tea and red wine. Since chocolate is still high in fat and calories these antioxidant findings do not give you the “go ahead” to eat all the chocolate you want. Chocolate can be eaten on an occasional basis as part of a low fat, high fiber diet along with physical activity.
By Cheryle Jones Syracuse, PhD.
Judy’s passion for cooking began with helping her grandmother make raisin oatmeal for breakfast. From there she earned her first food service job at 15, was accepted to the world-famous Culinary Institute of America at 18 (where she graduated second in her class), and went on to the Fachschule Richemont in Switzerland where she focused on pastry arts and baking. After a decade in food service for Hyatt Hotels, Judy launched Food and Health Communications to focus on flavor and health. She graduated with Summa Cum Laude distinction from Johnson and Wales University with a BS in Culinary Art, holds a master’s degree in Food Business from the Culinary Institute of America, 2 art certificates from UC Berkeley Extension, and runs a food photography studio where her love is creating fun recipes.
Judy received The Culinary Institute of America’s Pro Chef II certification, the American Culinary Federation Bronze Medal, Gold Medal, and ACF Chef of the Year. Her enthusiasm for eating nutritiously and deliciously leads her to constantly innovate and use the latest in nutritional science and Dietary Guidelines to guide her creativity, from putting new twists on fajitas to adapting Italian brownies to include ingredients like toasted nuts and cooked honey. Judy’s publishing company, Food and Health Communications, is dedicated to her vision that everyone can make food that tastes as good as it is for you.