Monday, March 12, 2012

Nutrition myths - busted

Nutrition myths are like fast food restaurants – they are everywhere, they’re hard to avoid, and they can derail your best intentions to follow a healthy, balanced diet. To mark Dietitians of Canada’s Nutrition Month, let’s skip the fast food in favour of some home-cooked truths.

MYTH: A low-carb diet is the best way to lose weight. 
TRUTH: In a recent survey of Canadian dietitians, 97 percent said that choosing the right carbs is better for healthy eating than choosing a low-carb diet. The “right carbs” are vegetables, fruit, legumes and whole grains such as oats, brown rice and whole grain bread. These foods provide fibre, vitamins and a wealth of disease-fighting antioxidants. Yes, cutting carbs can help you lose weight, but it may not help keep the weight off. It difficult to maintain a low-carb diet since the food choices are so limited. Instead, enjoy the right carbs in dishes like Red lentil daal and Sautéed garlic kale.

MYTH: If a food is fat-free, it must be healthy.
TRUTH: Foods labeled “fat-free” can still be high in calories, salt, sugar or other undesirable nutrients. Plus, fat is not the enemy it was once thought to be. Fat from foods like nuts, oil and fish is essential in the diet. Don’t be fooled by fat-free claims – read the ingredient list and use the Nutrition Facts panel to get the whole story.

MYTH: Only people with high blood pressure should limit their sodium.
TRUTH: In addition to causing high blood pressure, excess sodium can cause stroke, heart disease and kidney disease. The average Canadian consumes 3,400 mg per day, yet nutrition guidelines recommend only 1,500 mg. Try flavouring your food with herbs and spices instead of soy sauce, ketchup or other salty condiments.

MYTH: The easiest way to limit sodium is to stop using the salt shaker.
TRUTH: The best way to cut back is to limit processed foods, such as canned goods, frozen entrees, broth and bouillon, salty snacks, pickled vegetables, deli meats marinades, condiments and sauces such as BBQ, soy, teriyaki, mustard and ketchup. Cook from scratch more often.

MYTH: Cooking meals at home takes way too much time. 
TRUTH: If you plan ahead, keep a well-stocked kitchen, and choose simple recipes, weeknight meals can be easy. Choose recipes that can be prepared in less than 20 minutes, such as Salmon BLT or White bean pasta pot. Cook large batches and freeze portions so weeknight supper just needs to be heated. Take short cuts with healthy convenience foods, such as pre-cut vegetables or cooked brown rice. Get other quick, easy meal ideas from the Heart and Stroke Foundation recipe file
By Cara Rosenbloom RD
Posted: March 2012

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