How to become your own nutrition expert: Distinguishing the latest news from the old news
This past decade has been challenging for people trying to eat a healthy diet; this is because of the many advances in nutrition research. Confusing…yes! I am often asked questions like: Is soy really good for you? Should I eat butter or margarine? Can I eat eggs or not? Is coffee and caffeine bad for your health?
Let's talk about soy…
Old news: Soybeans are just another vegetarian food.
Latest news: Soy is a good food to incorporate into the daily diet---soymilk, soybeans, tofu and soy flour. Soy may decrease blood LDL and total cholesterol, may lower blood pressure, have anti-cancer effects and may play a role in Hormone Replacement Therapy. Foods now containing a significant amount of soy can have an official label: "if you eat 25 grams of soy protein in the context of a low-fat, low-cholesterol diet, it can help lower the risk of heart disease". Soy is not a cure-all food; however, it does seem to have many potential benefits, but much more research is needed.
Butter or Margarine
Old news: Choose margarine over butter because margarine is made from vegetable oil and thus has no cholesterol and much less saturated fat than butter. Then it turned out that margarine, because the oil is hydrogenated, contains trans fats, which are bad for your heart, just as bad as butter.
Latest news: Some new margarines contain no trans fats. They include: Benecol, Regular Spread (tub), Brummel & Brown Spread, I Can't Believe It's Not Butter (light and spray), Smart Balance Margarine (soft), and Take Control. To reduce your blood cholesterol, try Benecol or Take Control, which contain a cholesterol-lowering agent. However, if you eat very small amounts of butter or margarine--and follow a heart-healthy diet-it may not matter whether you buy butter or margarine.
Making you NUTS
Old News: Nuts should be eaten in small amounts because they are too high in fat, calories and salt.
Latest News: Recent studies show that nuts can help prevent heart disease. Nuts are rich in monounsaturated fats, as well as, Vitamin E, fiber, folic acid and other B Vitamins. Do choose unsalted nuts, and do not huge amounts. Do add nuts to salads, cereals, breads and rice dishes. Walnuts are the most heart healthy nuts.
Eggs With A Sunny Face
Old News: Do not eat eggs. One egg has 215 mg of cholesterol-two thirds of the daily maximum.
Latest News: Eggs contain little saturated fat, which plays a bigger role in raising blood cholesterol rather than dietary cholesterol. A daily egg may have little effect on the risk of heart disease in healthy people; however, this does not include people with high cholesterol levels, or diabetics or others with risk factors. If you know your cholesterol level is within the desired range, you can eat a daily egg.
Garlic and Onions…
Old news: If you like them, they are zesty and flavorful, but may cause severe halitosis or bad breath!
Latest news: The whole garlic family (which also includes leeks, chives, shallots and scallions) contains allylic sulfides and other compounds that may work against tumor formation and benefit the heart. There is no certainty that cooked onions and garlic are as effective as raw. You should not rely on garlic as a way to reduce blood cholesterol. Supplements remain not proven.
Coffee to drink or not to drink…
Old news: Coffee and caffeine are bad for your health.
Latest news: Research shows that coffee is the most studied beverage in the world! Coffee is not known to cause heart disease, promote stomach ulcers or to promote any kind of cancer. It can cause coffee nerves and jitters if you drink too much. If you decide to stop drinking coffee, do so gradually to avoid the headache that caffeine withdrawal temporarily causes.
Tea-Your New Best Friend!
Old news: A soothing beverage!
Latest news: All teas---green and black, but not herbal teas---contain a range of beneficial chemicals that reduce the risk of many cancers and that act as antioxidants. Drinking tea regularly may protect arteries from plaque build-up. Tea does not promote bone loss, as once believed.
The next time you go grocery shopping…remember to be your own nutrition expert and choose wisely!