Ever hear the one about how eating bananas causing cancer? Or maybe the one that claims if you eat too much soy, you might just end up with Phil Mickelson’s rack – not his golf game! There are lots of diet myths out there, most of it fiction with a little bit of fact thrown in to keep people guessing. This article will focus on some of the common myths about foods people eat, and the positive or negative health benefits that affect people as a result of believing these myths. So keep reading as we try to debunk common some diet myths, and hopefully learn a little about nutrition while we are at it.
Food, Fact & Fiction
Many people pick up ideas about food myths from friends, families, or some other source. These ideas stick with us, and it is often very difficult to break people from believing an idea they have carried with them for many years. In order to assess some of these common misconceptions, we will first examine the myth, and then see if there is any merit to it. Finally, we will have a look at the pros and cons of that particular food item.
Soy often gets a bad rap in North America, and it to linked to vegetarians, tree huggers, and every unmanly thing you can think of. More recently, studies have indicated that the isoflavones in soy mimic estrogen – something most men do not ant excess of. There is also research showing that soy will take or deplete minerals from the body, such as iron. So although it is a healthier choice, eating too much of it could lead to problems. (Note – the author of this article tried a meat free diet for over a year, which included soy-based meals on a regular basis. The end result was a dangerously low iron content, which required ferrous supplements and a return to red meat.)
Do bananas cause cancer? As far as we can tell, they don’t. Like many mass produced agricultural items, bananas are sprayed and treated with all sort of chemicals, but most people (and primates) peel them before they eat them. In fact, like most fruit, bananas are good for you and help the fight against cancer. Some also think bananas are fattening, but this is the good kind of fat. Plus, they are loaded with potassium.
Thanks to a few new diets crazes, lots of people are once again indoctrinated into the idea that humans require mass amounts of protein in order to survive. Although protein is part of a balanced diet, most people eat far too much of it. Furthermore, most people get the protein mainly from meat, without considering other options available to them. This is why some people refuse to consider a vegetarian diet, as they feel they will lose weight and muscle mass without a protein source. Since most of us eat double or triple our daily requirements of protein, the strain on our cardiovascular system is intense. Animal protein is high in fat, while protein derived from other sources isn’t. For example, soy can replace meat protein, and it lowers your bad cholesterol.
Good Fat or Bad Fat?
You often read food labels claiming low fat content, or low cholesterol, or that the food is ‘light’ in some way. But what does it all mean to you? You could spend your life eating low fat beef, and other low fat food items, yet you might still develop the kind of negative health effects common to high protein diets. Why? Well, the fact is there is good fat and bad fat, and just switching to low fat won’t solve all of your problems. A lot of people get confused when they see high fat contents in healthy foods – like grains or nuts – and relieved when they see low fat on meat and poultry. So just to make things clearer, here is the difference. Bad fats = Trans & Saturated. Good fats = monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Trans fats are being outlawed almost everywhere, as they wreak havoc on the cardiovascular system. So don’t worry about getting too much good fat, as it is healthy for you and the long-term effects are good.
All Cholesterol Is Bad
Since your body actually needs cholesterol, you won’t find a diet that eliminates it altogether. The kind of cholesterol that is worrisome is when you have a high percentage of it in your bloodstream. Bad cholesterol is the kind that sticks to your arteries, heart, etc. it is found in trans and saturated fats. So if you can avoid those bad fats, you will avoid the bad cholesterol. Conversely, eating diets high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats will increase your good cholesterol. Sounds like a plan!
Fruit Juice or Fruit Drink?
We all know how bad pop is for you, with all the sugar and chemicals. But what about drinks derived from fruit? First off, a fruit drink is essentially a mix of sugar, food coloring, chemicals, vitamins, and a small amount of fruit juice thrown in to make it appear healthy. These drinks are on the same level as pop. Fruit juice, on the other hand, is usually made from 100% fruit juice. However, not all juices are created equal, and many add in chemicals and food coloring. Try to find all natural, 100% juice, which is very good for you. Some say real fruit juice is hard on your teeth, so you might want to ensure you limit your intake and try to brush after you consume some.
The key to any diet is to eat more good food than bad, and to make sure that you don’t do anything to excess. (Remember what happened to me when I overdid it with my soy consumption.) Striking a healthy balance between healthy food and drinks is the key to long-term health, and you don’t have to sacrifice all the foods you like in order to achieve this goal. Just ignore the crazy myths you here friends and coworkers, and keep an open mind when it comes to making good eating choices. Remember, sometimes real men DO eat quiche! They just don’t eat it for every meal.