Even those of us who are paying attention – people who take care and do their best to benefit from a healthy diet, even if we’re feeling pretty good about what we eat – there might be more to learn. In fact, some of what people share as healthy eating tips don’t really hold up to closer inspection. To make sure you’re not paying the penalty for the myths attached to healthy eating, let’s have a look at some of the most common.
The first myth is the idea that nutrition bars are nutritious. There certainly is quite a wide variety available, and some contain pretty good stuff. Nearly all of them are better for you than a candy bar, but not all. The most widely sold are high in sugar and fat. People in the know use a nutrition bar as an emergency ration, something for the purse or book bag to use in case we miss a meal, or to keep us from reaching for something even less nutritious.
Multigrain and whole wheat have been the breads of choice for generations now, leaving white bread in the realm of nostalgia for many of us. Indeed, they are better options, but any commercial bread contains transfats and some degree of sugar content. Whole wheat bread may have the edge over multigrain, even though the latter may sound more nutritious, because multigrain may contain a mix of refined flour and maize in addition to the low-GI (glycemic index) grains like oats and wheat that made multigrain sound good in the first place.
Fruits will keep you slim, they say. Well, maybe. They are an essential piece of the food pyramid and their vitamins and fiber are needed. However, the fructose they bring in the form of natural sugar can drive high blood-sugar levels and wind up in fat gain if not consumed in moderation. The time of your day when you eat fruits matters, too. Experts say morning is best, both to receive their benefits and to avoid converting their sugar to fat.
Sea salt is getting a pass from many people, based on the notion that sea salt might contain less sodium. It turns out sea salt has the same proportion of sodium as table salt – 40%, or 2,300 milligrams per teaspoon. What might work in sea salt’s favor is that the larger grains it presents may prompt you to use less. Another disadvantage of sea salt is that it generally does not have added iodine, which is added to most table salts. The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions. The body also needs thyroid hormones for proper bone and brain development during pregnancy and infancy.
Folks were quick to spread the word that dark chocolate and red wine are good for you, so we’d better take a closer look. Dark chocolate does contain less sugar than milk chocolate, and it’s true that it brings antioxidants with it. But hey, it’s chocolate. The calories still count, and they’re high.
Likewise, a glass of red wine is recommended by many doctors, as it appears to help counter the effects of fats and sugars in our diet, reduce the risk of breast cancer, and even benefit the heart. Yet, in the end, wine still contains a double-digit dose of alcohol – not exactly one of the major food groups. There are many people too, who cannot drink safely in any amount. So, looking at the benefits of dark chocolate and red wine should mean looking at the whole picture they present, not just the parts we want to hear.