By Carol Witte, RDN, Nutrition Program Director.
Nutrition advice is everywhere—television talk shows, magazines, newspapers, bookstores—and the list could go on and on. How do you know what is really good for you? There are always studies being completed. Every week I receive new information. So this month I de-cided to share some food myths with you. Please, do not always believe everything you hear or read. Look for the studies and research to back up the claims!
MYTH: Microwaving foods kills nutrients. Microwaving is actually a great way to cook many food items like vegetables to keep their nutrients intact. Many vegetables have benefi-cial water soluble vitamins and minerals that will be lost if boiled in water. I just recommend that you use a thermometer when cooking or reheating foods in the microwave. Vegetables only need to be cooked to 135°F, whereas if you use the microwave to reheat left-over food items it should be reheated to an internal tem-perature of 165° F for food safety. The micro-wave is a great way to prepare food items when cooking for one or two. It is very quick and easy to use the microwave for potatoes with skin or squash (remember to poke them first to allow moisture to escape), frozen vegetables, as well as all fresh vegetables. It is even very easy to make your own breakfast sandwich using the microwave. Try using a small lightly-sprayed bowl to cook your egg substitute, egg whites or scrambled egg. It only takes a minute or two and then can be placed on your favorite break-fast sandwich.
MYTH: Whole grain food items are always a healthier choice. High fiber grains are cer-tainly preferable to refined white flour because they contain more fiber and B vitamins. But just because a cereal or grain item has the title “WHOLE Grains” it does not mean that it has more fiber and B vitamins. When wheat is processed to make white flour, or all purpose flour, some key nutrients are lost. Many compa-nies are now adding or fortifying grains with the B vitamins and fiber which may be lost in processing. It is not the variety of whole grains in the product, it is the amount of fiber and nu-trients that the whole grains provide that your should look for. Read the ingredient list on the label. Ingredients are listed in order of quantity. Review the nutritional information to determine the amount of fiber and vitamins it provides.
MYTH: Fat-free salad dressings are healthier. Fat free salad dressings are not al-ways the best choice. When decreasing the fat in items like salad dressing, they add more so-dium or sugars to alter the taste. We do need some fat in our diets to help us absorb and util-ize fat soluble vitamins and other nutrients like lycopene in tomatoes. It is better to become more aware of the portion size of fat you con-sume and try to choose healthier fats like olive oil based salad dressings or enhance the flavor of a salad by adding avocados or nuts.
MYTH: Avoid white vegetables I have addressed the importance of eating a diet full of colorful foods. I still believe that this is very important! But white vegetables can also be used as they are, packed with many nutrients as well. Cauliflower, garlic, onions, mushrooms and potatoes are good sources of fiber, antioxi-dants and potassium. Many times potatoes are thought of as a high calorie food item but this is not true. Portion control is the key with all foods and potatoes are a great source of vitamin C, fiber and potassium.