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Kristina Zalnieraite

3 Most Common Misconceptions About Healthy Nutrition

May 19 · 3
Health Tips

Consulting more than 30,000 people about nutrition will make you pick up some clues on what foods can confuse a typical health-conscious person. And believe me, I have heard some peculiar things people think are healthy over my career. Some of them are funny. Others might be dangerous.

Here are just a couple that pops into my mind:

​​#1 Gluten-containing foods are inherently bad for you

You might have heard that gluten-containing foods such as wheat and wheat products are inherently bad for your health.

Research shows that there is no need to avoid gluten unless you have a medical reason. Gluten might lead to serious side effects in people who have an autoimmune condition called celiac disease or gluten intolerance. For these people, a gluten-free diet is the most effective medical treatment.

However, if you don’t have these conditions, you shouldn’t restrict yourself from eating gluten. Gluten-containing whole grains are rich in fiber and nutrients, including B vitamins, magnesium, and iron, all of which are essential for our optimal health.

Choose unprocessed or lightly processed grains because highly processed versions contain refined sugars, higher amounts of saturated fats, and have a higher glycaemic index.

#2 Sugar in fruit is the enemy

Over recent years, the media has portrayed sugar in fruit as the sugar-rich enemy, which led people to avoid consuming too much fruit.

While the World Health Organization recommends limiting the intake of added sugars to less than 10% of total energy intake, this advice does not apply to the sugar we get in whole fruit.

The manufacturer, cook, or consumer includes free sugar in their food. That includes sugars naturally present in honey, syrups, and unsweetened fruit juices, too.

However, the sugar in fruit is naturally bound within its cellular structure, making it act differently in our body than added sugars. Whole fruit is rich in nutrients and fiber and does not spike our blood sugar levels as much as sugary drinks or sweets. Regular fruit consumption has been linked with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and premature death.

Therefore, everyone should have a few portions of whole fruit per day as part of a balanced diet.

One small thing: fruit juices and smoothies contain free sugars due to the release of the natural sugars from the structure of fruit by blending and juicing. However, they still provide a great variety of vitamins and minerals and some fiber. Don’t drink more than 150ml of these drinks per day.

#3 Fresh fruit and vegetables are healthier than frozen

Many people believe that frozen fruit and vegetables are not as healthy as fresh. That’s untrue, too.

Frozen fruit and vegetables can be more nutritious as they are picked and frozen within hours of being harvested, protecting the vitamins and minerals they contain. In contrast, fresh vegetables and fruits begin to lose some nutrients after being picked, packed, stored, and transported to the grocery stores.

A study from 2017 found that frozen produce is either as nutritious or more nutritious than fresh vegetables and fruits. Frozen fruit and vegetables are also more affordable and convenient and can help with reducing food waste.

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