5 food myths you need to stop believing

Think you can separate fact from fiction when it comes to your diet? Here are five food myths that might just surprise you

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pasta

Myth: You can't eat pasta on a diet

Trying to slim down? Don't be so quick to outlaw every carbohydrate in your kitchen-especially pasta. "Pasta is a low G.I. [glycemic index] carbohydrate, so it breaks down slowly in your body and doesn't spike your blood sugar levels," says Zannat Reza, a Toronto-based registered dietitian. It's also a source of folic acid, a B vitamin that's recommended for women of child-bearing age.

 

The key to being a healthy pasta eater is all in the sauce. Go for a tomato-based marinara rather than a creamy alfredo to cut the fat. And remember to pay attention to portion size-one serving is a half cup, but Reza says it's okay to eat between two to four servings for a whole meal. Just make sure not to exceed Canada's Food Guide recommendation of six to seven servings a day of grain products.

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popcorn

Myth: Popcorn is just another junk food

If you're trying to stick to a healthy eating plan, snacking on a large bag of buttery popcorn at the movies isn't the best plan. But as a source of fibre and antioxidants, popcorn can actually be a healthy snack-if you prepare it the right way.

 

"The key to good health is how the popcorn is prepared," says Vancouver-based registered dietitian Ramona Josephson, who suggests using an air popper. When it's popped, skip the melted butter and spritz your popcorn with some olive oil, then toss with Parmesan cheese or garlic powder for an added kick. "Adding globs of butter will defeat any health benefit," says Josephson.

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salad lettuce

Myth: You can't go wrong with salad

Salad is a no-fail healthy food option, right? Well, before you pat yourself on the back for choosing a salad from that fast-food menu over a burger, consider this: the Apple Pecan Chicken Salad from Wendy's clocks in at 580 calories, 27 grams of fat and 1,590 grams of sodium, while a Jr. Hamburger and small french fries combo packs 560 calories, 23 grams of fat and 760 grams of sodium.

 

Still want the salad? Make healthier choices where possible. For example, you can opt for grilled chicken over breaded, skip those high-fat creamy dressings and nix toppings such as croutons for quick calorie savings. Or even better, make your own fantastic salads at home.

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eggs

Myth: Eggs will raise your cholesterol

For years, nutrition experts cautioned that eggs were unhealthy. After all, they're one of the richest sources of cholesterol in the human diet. And since cholesterol plugs up arteries, eggs must raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes, right? Wrong! It turns out that only about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your blood comes from food. The other 75 percent is manufactured by the liver, which produces lots of cholesterol when you eat sources of saturated fat-something eggs are low in.

 

Need another reason to eat more eggs? They're also filled with useful nutrients that may offset any damage done by their cholesterol content, including unsaturated fat, folate and other B vitamins, and minerals.

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fruit

Myth: Frozen fruit isn't as healthy as the fresh stuff

You might think that choosing fresh fruits and veggies from your local market is the only way to go. However, the foods you find in the produce section have often had a long journey from the moment they were packed in crates. From the time it's picked to the time it finally lands on your kitchen counter, your produce has actually lost some of its nutrients.

 

By contrast, food processors flash-freeze their fresh-picked produce, which preserves much of its vitamin and mineral content. A University of Illinois study found, for instance, that frozen beans retained twice as much vitamin C as fresh beans purchased in a grocery store.

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foods harm foods heal

More food myths, busted

Foods That Harm, Foods That Heal is a breakthrough book that will change the way you think about food, and help you sort out conflicting information about which foods are good for you and which ones aren't. From allergic reactions to tips if you're pregnant, aging concerns to eating disorders, this invaluable guide is packed with hundreds of entries with the latest scientific and nutritional information available. Plus, it's conveniently organized in an easy-to-use A-Z format, so whether you're looking for an ailment or a food, you'll quickly find the information you need.

 

Available now in the Best Health Store.

 

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