Myths and Truths about Nutrition

On a daily basis we receive a wealth of information in regards to nutrition and weight loss. Often the source of this type of information originates from non-specialists thus false impressions are made. What are the myths and truths related to diet?

“Olive oil has fewer calories than other oils.”

Olive oil in comparison with other oils has the same caloric value as all oils are in fact fats that contain 9 calories per gram.  The reason olive oil is recommended instead of other oils is due to its high nutritional value. It contains mainly monounsaturated fats, which are positive qualities for the health of the heart, and also contains vitamin C which acts as an anti-ageing and anti-cancer agent.  Although olive oil is a healthy choice it should be consumed in moderation as 1 teaspoon contains 45 calories.

“Whole grain products contain fewer calories in comparison to the non-whole grain ones.”

This is a false perception as whole grains products have exactly the same calories with the difference that they provide more nutritional value. For example, a slice of brown bread has the same calories as a slice of white bread. Whole grain products provide a large amount of dietary fiber which is responsible for the health of gut.

Also, they contribute towards maintaining blood sugars in balance and they are undoubtedly richer in complex B vitamins that maintain the smooth functioning of the metabolism and nervous system.

“It’s better to consume honey and brown sugar rather than white sugar when trying to lose weight.”

Brown sugar has the same calories as white sugar.  The difference is that it has a higher nutritional value and provides nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and sodium. Honey also offers more vitamins and minerals than white sugar, which is nutritionally valueless, but many are not aware that it contains more calories.

“Aspartame sweeteners are carcinogenic”

Large organizations, such as the World Health Organization, suggest that aspartame is completely safe and it is not associated in any way with carcinogenesis.

There are no good or bad foods but instead good and bad eating habits.  All foods can be part of a diet as long as they are chosen correctly and consumed in moderation.  Food of same groups may contain the same value in calories but certainly some contain more nutrients than others and provide vitamins and fiber important to the human body.

In general, for matters related to correct nutrition one should seek the advice of a specialist and trust only scientific studies with validity that have their sources in the researches of experts.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian

Tags:
Categories:

Healthy Nails, Hair & Skin

Many believe that cosmetics is one of the most important factor for keeping up appearances but in reality diet is the major factor which is crucial for healthy skin, hair and nails.

Fragile nails with pigmentation, dull hair that break easily and oily skin with pale color is often evidence of a diet with deficiencies in nutrients that are vital to our body.

Hair

To reduce hair loss and maintain shiny hair with natural growth we need to consume foods that are rich in the following:

Vitamin D:  It promotes proper development of tissue and cells.

Sources:  Vegetables, such as spinach and red peppers, liver and eggs.

Biotin:  It improves metabolizing fat in the scalp area.

Sources:  Eggs, liver and cereals.

Iron:  Iron deficiency causes increased hair loss.

Sources:  Red meat, poultry, fish, eggs and some vegetarian sources such as legumes and spinach.

Copper: A must for proper oxygenation of the scalp.

Sources: Liver, seafood and seeds.

Zinc:  Responsible for the production of keratin which is the main structural protein of hair.

Sources: Meat, liver, seafood, eggs and soy.

Skin

Our body excretes on a daily basis around 2.4 liters of fluid which should be replenished with adequate water intake (8-10 glasses) to reduce skin greasiness, remove toxins and to properly hydrate the skin.  Increased water consumption, massage and exercise that increases blood circulation along with reduced intake of saturated fat (animal fat), salt and caffeine, can reduce the appearance of cellulite which is a problem many women face. Some other nutrients needed to revitalize skin are some antioxidants such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C that can be found in citrus fruits, watermelon, apricots and some non-green vegetable.  Antioxidants protect our genetic material (DNA) and neutralize harmful substances in the body called free radicals. Vitamin C also promotes creation of collagen and helps revitalizing the skin. Smokers should consume more Vitamin C than non-smokers. Another antioxidant is Vitamin E which is found in dark green vegetables, grains and some vegetable oils such as olive oil.  Vitamin E also reduces any burns resulting from exposure to the sun.

Nails

The three major nutrients needed for healthy nails are protein, calcium and zinc. With protein (keratin) being the main structural material of nails it is important to include meat, poultry, seafood and legumes in our diet.  Calcium helps strengthen nails and its lack causes thin and fragile nails. Sources of calcium are dairy products, dark green vegetables, sardines, etc.  Zinc helps reduce nail pigmentation and can be found in meat, low-fat milk, brown rice, beans etc. Finally, inadequate iron intake causes nails to grow thin and fragile that easily break.

In conclusion, a proper diet for healthy skin, nails and hair should include dark green vegetables such as spinach, fruits and non-green vegetables that are usually rich in antioxidants such as Vitamin A and C. To strengthen nails foods rich in calcium, for example low fat milk, should be added to our diet.  In general, the consumption of lean meat, poultry, seafood and legumes is vital as these foods are rich in protein which is the basic structural material of hair, skin and nails.  Foods high in protein often contain iron and zinc, essential ingredients for the healthy development of the nails and hair. Finally, water is an important factor for proper hydration and detoxification of the skin and should be consumed in adequate amounts.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian

Tags:
Categories:

Glycaemic Index

With the term glycaemia index we mean the way the blood sugar increases in the blood after  a meal.  Foods which might influence the blood glucose are mainly carbohydrates containing meals such as pulses ,milk, fruits, milk products and sugar.  The range of increase of the glycaemia index depends on the kind of the carbohydrates, the way of preparation and  how well ripe the sources are.

Carbohydrates are divided in the simple ones  which are found in sugar, fruits, juices, milk products and honey and in the complex ones.   The complex ones are found in cereals, pulses, bread, rice, potatoes and pastas.   Simple carbohydrates  increase the blood glucose quicker than the complex ones.

Blood glucose increases quicker after the consumption of processed food with reduced fibre  e.g  white bread has higher glycaemia index than  brown bread. Fibre reduces the absorption of glucose and keeps the blood sugars in balance, however low fibre food stuff induce increase of blood glucose and an immediate production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone which regulates the sugar blood levels and the storage of fats.  A sudden drop of the blood sugar can cause weakness and make the person feel hungry more easily.

Glycaemia index is also influenced from how well ripe fruits are e.g a well ripe banana will increase the blood glucose more than a non ripe banana. Another important parameter is how well cooked a meal is e.g  al dente pasta have low index  than well cooked pasta, so they will increase the blood sugar less.

In conclusion the glycaemia index is defined by the degree certain food stuff influence the blood level. Processed foods without fibre, simple carbohydrates, well ripe fruit and over cooked meals increase the blood sugar contrary to the complex carbohydrates and food rich in fibre.

Yiannis Kerimis MSc RD

Clinical Dietitian

Tags:
Categories:

Basic Rules of Food Storage

Properly storing foods helps to maintain quality and prevent foodborne illness. Storing foods for shorter rather than longer periods of time at proper temperatures and away from light will improve quality, taste and safety. Follow these basic rules for safe foods storage:

  • Store leftovers in airtight, shallow containers (two inches deep or less).
  • Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking.
  • Use or freeze packaged items by the “sell-by” or “use-by” date.
  • Set your refrigerator temperature below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and your freezer below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Use a refrigerator thermometer to ensure food is stored at proper temperatures.

Freezing is a smart storage option to extend the shelf life of perishable foods beyond expiration dates. But whether you are freezing or refrigerating, one basic rule applies: When in doubt, throw it out!

Eggs and Milk

  • Store eggs in the original packaging in the coldest part of the refrigerator. Do not use the pre-made egg cups in the door where they are susceptible to warmer air from opening and closing the door.
  • Do not keep raw eggs for more than three weeks in the refrigerator. Hard-boiled eggs can last a week in the refrigerator in or out of the shell.
  • Do not store milk in the refrigerator door where it is susceptible to warmer air from opening and closing the door.
  • Discard all milk after the container has been opened one week, regardless of the “sell-by” date.

Produce

  • Promptly store produce that needs refrigeration. Fresh, whole produce such as bananas and potatoes don’t need refrigeration.
  • Refrigerate fresh produce within two hours of peeling or cutting.
  • Throw away cut produce left at room temperature for more than two hours.
  • Discard cooked vegetables after three to four days.

Meat and Poultry

  • Store meat in the coldest part of the refrigerator or in the refrigerator’s meat bin.
  • Place raw meat, poultry and seafood on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator so juices don’t drip onto other foods.
  • Use fresh, raw meat stored in the refrigerator within three to four days of purchase.
  • Use deli meat within four days of purchase.
  • Throw away ground meat, sausage and organ meat after two days.
  • Use or freeze poultry products by the “sell-by” date. Frozen poultry can be kept for nine months to a year in a freezer set below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Eat or freeze cooked meat within three to four days.

Seafood

  • Refrigerate or freeze seafood immediately after purchasing.
  • Store fresh, pasteurized or smoked seafood products in a refrigerator set at 32 to 38 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Wrap fresh seafood in cellophane or place in air-tight containers.
  • Store frozen seafood in a freezer until ready to use. Keep it in the original moisture and vapor-proof packages.
  • Use packaged, frozen seafood before the expiration date. If an expiration date has passed, don’t consume the product; throw it away.

Canned Goods

  • Store canned or jarred goods in cool, dry settings.
  • Consume the oldest products in your pantry first.

www.eatright.org

Categories: