With countless studies to take into consideration, and trend and trend sweeping the internet, no one really knows how to lead the ideal healthy lifestyle. The truth is, you and I are winging it along with everyone else, but it's still important to get to the bottom of some of the most common health food myths floating around out there.
Log on to any health and wellness website and see for yourself. We're constantly being told what foods to eat, what foods to avoid, how to cook our meals, even the best times to eat them -- but have you ever noticed how every article seems to contradict the one you just read?
In an interview with Elite Daily, HUM Nutrition head registered dietician Alex Caspero, MA, RD, CLT, RYT, weighs in to help us decipher fact from fiction when it comes to healthy living.
1. Sugar In Fruit Is Just As Bad As Sugar In Candy
When I initially decided to dive head-first into eating healthy, I did a ton of research on sugar substitutes, because this girl's sweet tooth is serious.
I naturally turned to fruit to curb my cravings, but I still wondered whether this alternative really was best for me and my body in the long run.
So, what's the truth? Caspero says,
In nature, sugar is coupled with fiber, an essential ingredient that changes the way we metabolize sugars. The blood sugar response from eating an apple is much different from eating, say, a Jolly Rancher. Additionally, the fiber helps feed gut bacteria, which can help improve immune response and regulate GI movement.
Of course, too much of anything is never suggested, so keep in mind the FDA suggests eating at least two servings of fruit per day.
2. You Should Eat Less Carbs
I used to be extremely wary of carbs, but they are actually an essential part of a well-balanced diet.
Caspero tells Elite Daily,
When we look at longevity studies, we find the longest-lived have diets of roughly 65 percent carbohydrates, mostly in the form of whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. I try to encourage my clients to eat more plant-based, meaning more of their calories coming from whole forms of plant foods and less from refined and processed versions. This shift is usually not only better for calorie regulation, but also for reducing risk of chronic disease.
Translation: It's cool to carb-load just as long as you choose them wisely.
3. Raw Vegetables Are Better Than Cooked Vegetables
Personally, my stomach can't handle a plate full of raw vegetables, but I've heard straight from the ground is typically better for you.
Whether you opt to eat your veggies cooked or raw, Caspero says it's still a win either way:
If the only way you will eat broccoli is sautéed or steamed, have at it. While it might have slightly less water-soluble nutrients than raw broccoli, it's such a small amount that it really doesn't matter in the larger picture.
4. Frozen Vegetables And Fruit Have Less Nutritional Value
Produce can be pricey, especially when you're craving foods that are out-of-season.
I personally buy a lot of vegetables frozen and in bulk because they last longer and, actually, can be healthier for you.
According to Caspero, vegetables are normally frozen at the peak of ripeness, while raw vegetables lose their nutrient content the longer you wait to eat them.
She does, however, suggest you keep a sharp eye on labels to ensure your produce isn't loaded with sneaky additives like sugar.
5. Juice Detoxes Are Good For You
I was never part of the juice-cleansing craze, mostly because I'd rather just eat my food as it is than purée it.
While some wellness gurus stand by its potential digestive benefits, Caspero says backing off processed foods should do the trick naturally:
While some people report feeling better letting their digestive system 'rest' for a day or two, there is no medical reason for this. Our GI tracts were designed to continuously work, without needing to take any time off. Instead of expensive juice detoxes (which, juice itself does not 'detox' the body), I recommend reducing processed grains/sugars/alcohol/animal proteins and adding in more fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains when you feel like you need a 'reset.'
6. You Should Avoid Foods High In Fat
There's good fat, and then there's bad fat. According to Caspero, you should be implementing healthy fats, like nut butters, avocado, and olive oil into your daily diet.
For one, it's good for the body, but there's also the added bonus of keeping skin supple and hair shiny.
Again, balance is key, but there's no shame in the good fatty foods game.
7. You Should Eat Six Small Meals A Day Rather Than Three Big Meals
I know myself, and if I even try to limit myself to three large meals a day, I'll end up snacking regardless.
Caspero says when and how often you eat is all up to personal preference. The key is learning to identify when your body is truly hungry, regardless of what the clock says.
8. You Should Only Eat The Whites Of Eggs
Eggs are a controversial food item because overlapping studies can't seem to decide whether or not this animal product is really all that healthy.
However, Caspero notes most of an egg's nutrients exist in the yolk, like lutein and zeaxanthin, which are important for your eyes and choline, so don't bother tossing the yellow just to save on calories and fat.
9. All Organic Foods Are Healthier Than Non-Organic Foods
I can get behind the idea of organic, but unfortunately, these so-called better-for-you foods are significantly more expensive than the non-organic options.
For most of us, it comes down to budget, but what's the difference health-wise?
According to Caspero, organic foods don't claim to be healthier in a traditional sense. However, organic items do have more stringent standards of what pesticides are allowed to be sprayed on them, and how they are produced.
Snack on those facts!