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

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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

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