Healthy eating is a big part of a healthy lifestyle, and it can help prevent many chronic health conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease.
However, there are some myths about healthy eating, which can mislead many people, according to Karin Michels, professor and chair of the epidemiology department in the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health.
Here Prof. Michels debunks 6 common myths about a healthy diet.
Myth1: You should cut the carbs.
Low-carb diet has become popular recently, but cutting carb drastically in your diet can be harmful.
Instead, you should reduce refined carb and sugar while adding more whole grain in your diet.
Quinoa, oats, rice and pasta are good sources of carbs if they’re made of whole grains.
You should not avoid gluten unless you’re intolerant. Removing gluten from your diet means you’re missing out on important nutrients and dietary fiber.
Myth2: A low-fat diet is the best.
When we consume fat, quality is more important than quantity. There are healthy fats and unhealthy fats.
Healthy fats include unsaturated fats, which can be found in fatty fish, nuts and plants.
These fats can increase the body’s HDL (“good”) cholesterol and help protect the heart.
Unhealthy fats include saturated fats and trans fats. Saturated fats mainly from meat, and trans fats are from processed foods.
These unhealthy fats could raise the LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the body and lead to cardiovascular disease.
Myth3: Red meat is a good source of iron.
Many people believe that red meat is important to avoid an iron deficiency.
But Prof. Michels says that the iron from red meat is very different from the iron that comes from vegetable sources, legumes and whole grains.
The plant iron found in beans and green leafy vegetables is much healthier.
Unfortunately, it is more difficult to absorb, so people need to consume more of it or help absorption by taking vitamin C-rich foods at the same time.
Myth4: A healthy diet provides all nutrients the body needs.
Although a well-balanced diet can offer many important nutrients, there are still some we need to get from supplements.
One example is vitamin D. It’s nearly impossible to get enough from the diet, and because we use sunscreen to prevent skin cancer, we also block the best source of vitamin D production in the body.
Myth5: Alcohol should be completely avoided.
The science findings about alcohol’s effects on healthy are mixed.
Some studies have shown that moderate alcohol drinking is linked to lower cardiovascular disease risk and dementia risk.
On the other hand, some research has found that alcohol drinking is linked to higher risks of many cancers.
Prof. Michels’ advice is that if someone has a strong family history of coronary artery disease, alcohol may help prevent the disease because it cleans out coronary arteries.
Myth6: Cows’ milk is healthy
Prof. Michels suggest that cows’ milk is not designed for humans. Its composition is completely different from that of human mother’s milk.
In the interest of efficiency, cows are artificially inseminated to remain in a constant state of simultaneous pregnancy and lactation.
That means many doses of the pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone are in milk products that are sold to consumers, which raises the risk for some cancers.
If you want milk, plant alternatives such as almond and soy milk are better.
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