You can tell a lot about a person by what they say they’d do if they were given a time machine. Some of us would dial it in for the middle of the 1980s, so we could disabuse the masses of their misguided nutritional notions.
The whole-foods hippies of the 1970s were entering middle age. After a look in the mirror at a sagging this and a bulging that, they began believing every half-cooked book and commercial telling them the key to healthy living was filling their fridge with margarine, tofu, and low-fat … everything.
We may not be to the promised land of nutrition yet — far from it! — but at least researchers can now say conclusively what was wrong with some of the health rules that we formerly swore by. Bypass the non-fat trap and other food myths with these tips from registered dietitian Andy Bellatti.
Myth 1 – Cutting Fat from a Meal Makes it Healthier
You pass on pizza, skip the sweets, and double up on salad. You pile your plate with cuts of lean chicken, tomatoes, peppers, and green, leafy vegetables.
Then you opt for a squeeze of lemon juice or top off an already healthy meal with a little balsamic. But you’ve unknowingly just backtracked. The problem: Your fat-free diet is costing you fat-soluble vitamins and nutrients.
According to a study in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research, adding healthy fats like avocado, nuts, or even a tablespoon of full-fat dressing helps the body absorb vitamins A, D, E, K and other heart-healthy nutrients. They’re also crucial to feeling full and satisfied after eating. Good luck sticking to your diet without them!
Myth 2 – All Low-Fat Foods Are Healthy
We’re not talking vegetables and beans here. Low-fat processed foods are where things become problematic, because they’re often packed with sugar and refined carbohydrates, both of which are more intimately connected to the fat on your body than is the fat in, say, an artichoke. Really, it’s a shame they both get called the same name.
Rather than avoiding the f-word like the plague, a better choice is to pick the right fats and enjoy them without guilt, because when it comes to heart health, a little fat goes a long way. “Studies have consistently shown that monounsaturated fats like almonds, peanuts, avocado, omega 3s — and even some saturated fats like those in coconuts and cocoa — are good for cardiovascular health,” says Bellatti. “For men interested in bodybuilding, a good intake also helps with testosterone production.”
Myth 3 – Milk is the Key for Strong Bones
Milk is high in calcium, and calcium is key to bone health, so pouring a glass of 2 percent at breakfast sounds like the best way to do your bones a solid favor. But one component is missing: vitamin K, which plays a huge role in maintaining bone health and preventing bone loss. “Once we’re full-grown adults, we need to focus on minimizing loss,” says Bellatti. “Vitamin K is crucial for that”…
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