Five nutrition myths busted

Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Busting five nutrition myths

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One of the biggest dilemmas for dieters is sorting fact from fiction when it comes to nutrition claims. So, get ready to set five of those urban, nutrition myths straight.

1. 'Lite' means a product is low in fat
Seeing the word "lite" on a product may automatically trigger a response to purchase that product. More often than not people are buying these products because they believe that "lite" products are low in fat. This word can be quite deceiving considering it can have other meanings. For example, 'lite' oil means light in colour and 'lite' dry biscuits can mean light in salt. The fat and kilojoule content of these products is usually the same as the regular product.

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2. Olive oil is lower in fat than other oils
Olive oil contains the same amount of fat as other oils. The type of fat found in oils varies — olive oil contains predominantly monounsaturated fat. These healthy fats can help control cholesterol levels if they replace saturated fats in the diet. Olive oil also supplies beneficial anti-oxidants. But if you are watching your weight, the amount of all fat in your diet should be controlled, including the use of oils.

3. Supplements can be taken instead of food
Replacing foods you do not like with pills is not the way to improve your health status. Fruits and vegetables have enormous health benefits because they contain vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fibre. Their combined presence in food allows them to work synergistically. A tomato not only contains vitamin C but also phytochemicals and many other nutrients. When vitamin C is consumed as a supplement, you miss out on the benefit of the other nutrients present in the food. Supplements often contain greater amounts of nutrients than their food counterparts, however some may not be absorbed as well and many may be toxic in high concentrations. Most importantly food does taste a whole lot better than a handful of pills!

4. By increasing my protein intake I will build huge muscles
Adequate protein is essential for muscle repair and maintenance. However, every gram of dietary protein is not converted to a gram of muscle. Consuming more protein than your body requires can result in the excess being stored as fat if your overall kilojoule intake exceeds energy expenditure. Without the appropriate strength training regime your body will not automatically convert the protein to muscle. So if you want to increase your muscle mass, combine a well-balanced diet with an appropriate strength training program.

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5. Bananas are high in fat
Bananas are high in energy-giving carbohydrates and low in fat. They are a good source of fibre, potassium and vitamin C. Some people believe they are high in fat because of the creamy texture and sweet taste of the perfectly ripened banana. However, once you dip banana in batter, deep fry it and call it a banana fritter — well that's a different story!

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