Nutrition Get the Facts

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The best nutrition is based on science and fact. This fact sheet lists some nutrition myth-information for hot topics.
Coconut Oil
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.
Glycemic Index
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.
Sea Salt
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.

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