06 Jun 2017
It’s safe to say that when it comes to nutrition advice you can ignore about half of what you hear and treat the other half with severe scepticism. Once you get past the basics (you need a varied diet that includes fruits and vegetables), you start to enter uncharted territory where science is only just beginning to venture.
Now, that’s not to say that there aren’t some established facts. There certainly are. However, there are also a number of falsities that are paraded around as facts.
In general, it is definitely good advice to avoid the highly processed garbage you usually find in the frozen food aisle. Things like TV dinners, frozen pizzas, frozen fried products and pizza pockets are usually low in nutritional quality and high in the things you simply don’t need a lot of in your diet, such as trans fats.
However, when it comes to frozen fruits and vegetables, the advice changes somewhat. Frozen fruits and vegetables often have a higher nutritional content than their fresh counterparts due to the way in which they’re processed and delivered. Many frozen fruits and vegetables are harvested and then snap-frozen shortly after, preserving the nutritional content far more than a long truck journey does for fresh food.
Air, light and heat can all reduce the nutritional content of produce. During transport, fresh food is exposed to all three, and this definitely has a detrimental effect by the time it lands on the shelves of your local supermarket.
Sure, if you’re farming your own produce and eating it shortly after you pull it out of the garden, you’ll be getting a great load of nutrients. However, if you’re like the majority of us and don’t have a few acres to grow your own produce, you’re often better off with frozen fruits and vegetables.
Add to that the fact that frozen fruits and vegetables can last longer in your freezer (reducing wastage), and you’ll find that you’ve got a few dollars left over at the end of the month to put towards eating a little better in future.
There is very little scientific evidence to support the nutritional value of organic produce over fruits and vegetables grown with the assistance of pesticides, genetic manipulation or other factors. Sure, organic sounds much better, but there’s a reason we don’t grow the majority of our food organically.
Over centuries of agriculture, we’ve made a lot of advances in the way we grow our food. From higher yield plants to disease-resistant strains, modern agriculture has a lot of advantages over standard organic farming.
One of the major factors against restricting your diet to organic-only produce is the cost. At the end of the day, it’s important to get a lot of fruits and vegetables in your diet. By only eating organic produce, you are limiting the amount you can eat simply due to the prohibitive cost.
There is loads of research that indicates that eating more vegetables has a huge range of benefits. These include reducing your risk for cancer, heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Furthermore, you simply feel better when you have a diet with a good balance of fruits and vegetables.
Vegetables are a fantastic source of antioxidants, nutrients and vitamins and minerals. It is largely irrelevant if the produce is organic. As long as you’re getting plenty of fruits and vegetables, you’ll be getting a lot of the nutrients you need to be healthy and happy.
A large number of nutritionists advocate eating breakfast very soon after you wake up. The concept of “breaking the fast” as soon as you arise has murky beginnings, but they definitely don’t rest on science.
If you’re getting out of bed at 6am and eating breakfast right away, you’re probably going to be hungry again by 9am or 10am. This can lead to snacking before your next meal and a loss in food discipline. While snacking or eating a higher number of smaller meals can be a beneficial way of regulating your diet, it only works if you’re keeping a close eye on what you eat.
If your goal is weight loss, consider putting off breakfast for a little while in the morning. Try either a big glass of cold water (to really get the metabolism moving) or a glass of hot water infused with lemon. Of course, don’t starve yourself in the morning – the goal is to avoid overeating later on, after all.
An exception to this is for those of us who work out in the morning. If you aren’t the type to work out on an empty stomach, try something light such as an apple before beginning your workout, just to give you a bit of an energy boost and keep the stomach reasonably full.
This is bad nutrition advice simply because it makes no sense. It might work as a general rule, but if you’re serious about your nutrition, general rules need to go out the window.
It’s not a terrible idea to replace white flour and other refined grains with whole grain alternatives. However, some of the most nutritious foods you can include in your diet are white. These include cauliflower, mushrooms, onions, beans, fennel, turnips, parsnips, white corn and tofu.
These foods bring a whole host of benefits to your body. By cutting them out, you’re missing out on a whole lot of fibre, Vitamin C, antioxidants, protein, potassium, and other dietary benefits such as a reduced risk of cancer and lowered cholesterol.
Besides, we all know the most common reason people fail at keeping to their nutrition diets – it can be really, really hard. Cutting out a huge range of food and reducing your options makes that even harder. Instead, make moderation and sensible eating your goal. You’ll thank yourself later.
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