By Debra Hollon, MS, RD, CDE, LDN
Senior Clinical Nutritionist
• If you’re dieting, fruit juice is better than soda—Soft drinks have been criticized for containing a large amount of sugar per serving, while fruit juices are regarded as a healthier alternative. Fruit juices often do contain more vitamins than soda, but they also have large amounts of fructose—a natural sugar found in fruit. One 16oz bottle of fruit juice contains the same amount of sugar/carbohydrates as 4 medium pieces of fruit. For a healthy beverage choice, water is a better option.
• All fats are bad—With all the media attention on the connection between fat and heart disease and obesity, it’s easy to believe a healthy diet shouldn’t include any fat. The truth is we need some fat in our diet: fats help our bodies absorb nutrients such as Vitamins A and E, build cell membranes and give you a sense of satiety—that “full” feeling you get after eating. But not all fats are the same: saturated fat, found in many meat and dairy products, has been shown to raise cholesterol while unsaturated fats like Omega 3’s are known to promote heart health. For a healthy diet, try to limit saturated fats and/or replace them with the healthier unsaturated fats from fish and nuts.
• Brown sugar is better than white sugar—Brown rice is a better nutritional choice than white rice, and whole wheat bread is a better option than white. Brown sugar, therefore, must be better than white sugar, right? Whole grains are a good source of fiber, Vitamin E, iron, B Vitamins and a number of other nutrients, many of which are lost when whole grains are processed into white bread and white rice. Brown sugar, meanwhile, is regular white sugar with a little molasses added in and has roughly the same nutritional value as plain white sugar. In other words, choosing brown sugar over white sugar is not the same thing as choosing 100% whole wheat bread over white bread.
• Avoid carbohydrate to lose weight—There are a number of popular fad diets out there that advise limiting carbohydrate in your diet in order to lose weight. The weight loss achieved through these diets can be dramatic, but it’s not necessarily because of the limited carbohydrate intake—many of these diets also limit the number of calories consumed as well. Losing weight is as simple as burning more calories than you consume. Exercise along with a well-balanced diet that includes lean protein, whole grains, dairy, and fruits and veggies and is low in saturated fat will work just as well.
• Calories eaten late at night turn to fat—This one does have a small kernel of truth: calories you don’t burn in a day are stored in your body as fat. However, the time of day you consume calories doesn’t matter; if your body can’t use them for immediate energy, they’ll be converted to fat regardless of what time of day you eat.