Welcome to the 4th chapter of my list of nutrition and fitness myths to destroy. I hope you will enjoy it. :-)
IF IT SAYS 0 TRANS FATS IT’S SAFE TO EAT. This is a demonstration that nutritional labels are not 100% reliable, and unless we read the list of ingredients as well, we can be misled. When we find “Trans Fats 0g” it only means that the product we are examining has no more than 0.5 grams of trans fats per each serving size. Since they have been directly linked to heart disease, any amount of trans fats will potentially harm our cardiovascular system, even at such low dosages. Trans fat is also called “partially hydrogenated oil”, so when we find this written on the nutritional label of a food, we should skip that product all together.
NUTS ARE BAD FOR YOU BECAUSE THEY HAVE A LOT OF FAT. Nuts do pack up quite a few calories because of their high content in fat, and should be consumed in moderation, more on a snack basis. However, they are incredibly nutritious, and most of the fat they contain is healthy. In absence of allergies, nuts should play an important role in our nutrition. Some are healthier than others, depending on the amount of unsaturated fats versus saturated fats they contain. For instance, walnuts - loaded with omega-3 fats, fiber and antioxidants – have shown to help reduce chances of heart disease. Almonds – high in folic acid, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc and other minerals – can help lower LDL cholesterol. Hazelnuts, peanuts and pistachios are also helpful in keeping cardiovascular disorders at bay. Cashew nuts instead provide lots of iron and magnesium. In addition to the properties above described – and many more – nuts are a fantastic source of protein, and shouldn’t be underestimated by vegetarians and vegans in search for more protein for their diet.
GRANOLA AND YOGURT ARE SUCH A HEALTHY COMBINATION. Oatmeal is considered to be one of the most nutritious foods we could eat. Among its health benefits, it helps us eliminate toxins from our system, it has been proven to lower our LDL cholesterol levels, it’s packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and it increases satiety by slowing down the digestive process. Because of these properties, oatmeal is truly a super-food. Granola, on the other hand, tastes sweet for a reason. Since oatmeal alone is not particularly flavorful, food manufacturing companies usually add sugar, sugar substitutes, dried fruits and fat to make it more appetizing – and marketable – to their customers. When this happens, granola’s healthy properties are heavily outnumbered by the increased calories and potential harm promoted by sugar and its companions.
CHOCOLATE IS EVIL. We have been hearing this since we were born. I’ll tell you what is more evil than chocolate: sugar! The flavonoids in cocoa not only possess antioxidant properties, but they can also improve cardiovascular health by increasing blood flow and reducing blood pressure. Does this mean that any amount of every chocolate in every form is good to eat? Absolutely not. The more chocolate gets processed, the less the amount of flavonoids, and usually the more the sugar. This combination is what makes chocolate unhealthy for our system, but has nothing to do with the initial qualities that cocoa has in nature. Some companies are trying to find a way to maintain the flavonoids during the refinement process of chocolate. However, at the moment the best option we have to get some type of health gain from eating God’s food is choosing dark chocolate – the darker the better - over milk chocolate, which is much richer in sugar and saturated fats.
I DON’T EAT EGGS BECAUSE THEY INCREASE LDL (BAD) CHOLESTEROL. We have all heard it. Egg yolks are loaded with cholesterol, so if I don’t want my cholesterol to go up, I shouldn’t eat eggs. Although eggs do pack up a good amount of cholesterol, experts agree that the cholesterol in the diet has little to do with the cholesterol in our blood, which is increased more by consuming trans and saturated fats. Does this mean we should binge on fried eggs? Of course not, but there’s no reason to completely avoid them, especially considering the nutritional value they display.
SEA SALT IS BETTER THAN REGULAR SALT. The amount of “added minerals” in sea salt compared with regular salt is insignificant. In order to “benefit” from the consumption of those minerals, we would have to ingest enough sea salt capable to spike our bood pressure to the stratosphere. Those who buy sea salt are paying more money for the same thing.
IF I DRINK MORE WATER I WILL LOSE WEIGHT. In terms of weight loss, there are advantages of drinking more water. First, if I drink more water I will more likely consume less soda, juices and other sweetened drinks, which can sabotage my weight loss goals. Second, hunger is often confused with thirst, so drinking water when I’m hungry - especially before a meal - could give me an impression of fullness even if I haven’t eaten anything yet. This could potentially decrease the amount of calories ingested per meal. Nevertheless, if I don’t change anything else in my diet and refuse to exercise, it’s very unlikely that I will achieve any weight loss by drinking more water alone. Something else has to happen.
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