4 Food Truths and Myths Go Head-to-Head

In our information-loaded world, it’s difficult to know what’s true and what isn’t—especially when it comes to food choices.

In many case, people are basing their assumptions on either pure myth or the latest diet fad. A perfect example is: Gluten is bad for you. Listening to these ever-changing “rules,” however, can be risky.

“Food myths are dangerous because they can deprive you of the benefits of a healthy diet,” says Tara Gidus, MS, R.D., who’s the team dietician for basketball’s Orlando Magic.

The following are a few myths that deserve to be debunked:

 MYTH: All yogurt is good for you. If you smother anything with enough sugary fruits and toppings, it’s no longer a snack, but dessert.

 MYTH: Fresh veggies are more nutritious than frozen or canned. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetic’s Melissa Joy Dobbins, veggies and fruits “are canned as soon as they’re picked so they’re at peak nutrition.”

There’s also research showing that ◊canned tomatoes [www.hunts.com]◊, in particular, contain more of the heart disease-protective carotenoid pigment lycopene than fresh ones. Since statistics indicate that adding tomatoes to your diet is related to increased consumption of healthy vegetables of all kinds (just ask the U.S. Department of Agriculture why), maybe we should all consider stocking up on cans of, say, Hunt’s tomatoes (www.hunts.com).

    MYTH: Gluten-free diets are healthier. Like trends before them, chalk this up to another diet fad. Without even really knowing what gluten is (a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye), people assume that the 99 percent of Americans who do not have celiac disease should also avoid it.

The problem is that such whole-grain foods happen to be rich in vitamin B, calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and fiber, and may even help lower the risk of heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and some forms of cancer. That explains, says Peter H.R. Green, the director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University in an interview with WebMD, that going gluten-free “isn’t something anyone should do casually.”

    MYTH: Eggs are bad for your heart. Eggs have long enjoyed a bad rap and a renaissance in equal amounts. According to the Harvard Medical School, the only large study that addressed the issue found “no connection between the two.” However, egg yolks do contain cholesterol, calories, and fat. So, for a lean and healthier option, discard the yolk or switch to pourable egg whites-only altogether, such as Egg Beaters (www.eggbeaters.com).

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