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Back to Expert Articles - FOOD FACTS, FADS AND FALLACIES

FOOD FACTS, FADS AND FALLACIES

Let us ponder few topics and strain the facts apart.
 
1. FLAX SEEDS
 
They  are high in Omega-3 and is beneficial for diabetes and high cholesterol
 
Truth: It is a fact that flax seeds are high in omega-3 fatty acids. Taking this in to account people eat roasted flax seeds. Other fact is that on roasting, omega-3 is lost due to heat. So, best way out is to eat them in unroasted form. Simply crush them and keep in cool place. Sprinkle it on your porridge, breakfast cereals, and dal-rice or add in smoothie. Make sure you do not heat after adding them.
 
2. ADDED FIBERS
 
They are good for the gut and weight loss.
 
Truth: Fibres of natural unprocessed foods are beneficial for digestive system than added fibres of processed foods. Fruits with skin, sprouts, pulses and legumes, vegetables and tubers ease digestion; help the peristaltic movement of colon and ease out the stool passing process. They also protect against cancers, aid in weight loss by giving satiety and fullness.  In a 1000 calories diet, fibre amount should be 14 gm. Do not overburden your body with fibres and roughages. Why eating added fibres when we get natural soluble and insoluble fibres from foods?
 
3.SOYBEANS
 
 They are best source of vegetarian Protein
 
Truth: No wonder soy has highest amount of Protein in all vegetarian foods, but its bio-availability is about 60 % because it’s very hard for digestion and absorption. Some Asian people eat them since many generations and they have developed genes to digest soy better. But Indian people have started using them past 20-25 years. One more misinformation is seen that people add soy in wheat to grind flour without processing them. Soya has TRYPSIN INHIBITORS that do not let the soy protein digest well.
To avoid this soy needs processing. In this process:
 
- Soak soy overnight
- Drain the soaked water and wash nicely
- Sun dry them for two-three days or till they are dried
- Dry roast them on gas for another 15-20 minutes
- Now your soy is ready for grinding into flour
 
So now onwards, make sure you process soy before grinding in to flour or bring ready flour only after reading the label for processing.
 
4. COOKING OILS:
 
Which oils are best for cooking
 
Truth: This is a very vague yet technical topic. What is your aim to ask this question? If the oil use is in terms of calories, let me explain that all oils give same amount of calories; 1gm fat gives you 9 calories. So in terms of fat or calories, any oil, ghee or butter will be same. Same case is with margarine.
 
 If you are looking for healthy fats, all mono & poly unsaturated oils are good for your cholesterol; i.e. sesame, sunflower, corn, soy etc are ranked first. Peanut and cottonseed are ranked second. Saturated fats present in butter, margarine and Trans fats are harmful for high cholesterol and heart health.
 
What about Olive oil? Olive oil has qualities to protect heart. But that is not the only protector against heart disease. Lifestyle, exercise, intake of fibres etc are equally important. Olives have mono-unsaturated fats that not only protect heart but also great for skin and hair. However, olive oil is not the only source of MUFA. Several other vegetable oils are also good in MUFA. Traditional Indian cooking tempering and cooking methods suits corn, soy, sunflower or sesame oils. So don’t simply copy health freak people and switch over to olive oil.
 
5. DIET COLA or DIET DRINKS 
 
Truth: Hope this would be as great as it is boasted about. Diet drinks have artificial sweeteners like aspartame, stevia, saccharine or others. This makes it zero calorie. Therefore it is favourite for diabetic patients. However, they have high amount of caffeine that gives you the pick and the kick. Moreover they have melic acid, aspartic acid and other acids for that tingling feel you get on your tongue. These all are very bad for your stomach and intestines. The artificial sugars also increase sugar. So how are they good in terms of zero calories or good for diabetes patients?
 
6. ‘LOW FAT’ ‘LOW SUGAR’, ‘LOW SODIUM’
Truth: All these healthy claims and labels are highlighted on different food packets. If the percentages of daily values or “dv” are given on label, then label can be reliable. But unless we know the daily needs or what is considered as high or what is low, how can we consider it to be good for us?
 
SODIUM: The daily need of sodium is 500 mg or 5 gm. One average teaspoon is about 2300 mg or 2.3 gm. Low sodium means 1.5 to 2.4 gm. of sodium per 100 gm. This requirement is of a whole day. So we should keep watch on home-made diet and processed foods too. Total allowance of sodium should be taken care of each food that we consume. It is of no use if we use potassium salt or low salt category foods and binge on papad, pickles and ready-made sauces- power house of sodium!!
 
SUGAR: An average healthy, non-diabetic person can consume 5 to 7 teaspoon sugar in a day. Diabetes patients’ needs are lower than this. For sugar content, we need to count daily sugar content of cooked foods, tea, coffee and other snacks/savouries too.
 
FAT: We need several essential fatty acids for the functions of body and brain. When diet is deprived of good types of fats, it starts storing more fat from our food and reduces metabolic rate. If this was not enough, lack of fat hindrances absorption of fat soluble vitamins-A, D, E & K.
When we try to switch over on “fat free” or “low fat” items, we should know that it is low in fat by only 3to 4%. Not only this, the baked version of all fried stuff has trans-fat in them instead of regular oils. A baked food cannot be prepared without trans-fat, ghee or butter and baking soda. None of these is going to be helpful to us. Trans-fat deposits cholesterol in our arteries and it also contributes in insulin insensitivity, high blood pressure, joint problems etc.
 
7. FRUIT- HEALTHY FOOD:
 
Fruits are nature’s wonder. They give us Vitamins, minerals, fibres and antioxidants in abundance. It is a valuable food group. Fruits are helpful to detox body, good gut, prevent cancer and other diseases and benefits are uncountable.
 
Truth: Fruits contain simple sugar, known as FRUCTOSE. Our body can absorb and assimilate all types and any amount of fructose easily. Fructose being a simple sugar, converts rapidly into energy or calories. If eaten on empty stomach or after any high energy endeavour like work outs, it gives maximum benefits. It gives fast sugar to all the cells of body by replenishing used up sugar during fasting or work outs. However, researches reveal that fruits eaten with other foods or after meals, fructose converts into triglycerides (a bad type of fat). When triglycerides increase beyond levels, it poses a threat for high cholesterol. It can disturb insulin sensitivity as the fruit sugar level goes high. Not only this, fat cells also increase in size. Ideally fruits should be eaten on empty stomach or after three hours of meals, when stomach is empty.
 
Fruits give optimum result when we consume them freshly cut and with its peels. When we make juice from it, its surface is open to oxygen and Vitamins get oxidized. In making juice the peels and soft skin are extracted out so we also lose fibres. Oxidation should be occurring inside our body to give anti-oxidants. By the time we drink the extracted juice, 50% of the vitamins are lost in oxygen.  
 
8. MULTI-GRAIN FOODS:
 
Multi grain items are very much in-thing today. You hit the supermarket and find multi-grain breads, biscuits, flours, breakfast cereals and much more.
 
Truth: Indeed multi-grain products are superior to single grain product. But we can always mix different grains at home. Simply mix wheat flour with oat, barley, nachni, millet and enjoy making roti, bhakhri, paratha, pancakes and all snacks and savouries. 
Just like multi-grain, combination of cereal and legumes/pulses is highly nutritious. They replenish missing nutrients, especially amino acids to make complete protein profile. 
 
In a nut shell, I would like to request to get full information of any new food. Our stomachs are not a laboratory that we keep on experimenting on it. One must eat all foods keeping in mind nutritional needs and status, work pattern, lifestyle and age. 
 
 

Publised On: Dec 18, 2015

Dr Janki Patel, Ph. D  in Nutrition (Practicing Nutritionist at Healthy Minds)

Author: Dr Janki Patel, Ph. D in Nutrition (Practicing Nutritionist at Healthy Minds)

Email: jankifoodmood@yahoo.co.in

Views: 602

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