Eat the yolks!

Over the years, researchers announced a variety of food facts which just a decade or two later were contradicted with new studies. My clients very often ask me whether eating eggs is healthy, whether they should keep 5 hours between their meals to accelerate fat burning or whether frozen fruits and vegetables have equal health benefits to their fresh version.

With this article I want to shed some light into some of those food myths floating around in the internet. I always included studies to strengthen my statement but you never know what study we'll find in the coming 20 years.

Egg Yolk

Nutrition Fact:
One egg contains approximately 190mg of Cholesterol in the egg yolk. The daily recommendation is 300mg.

Myth:
Eating eggs increases the risk for heart diseases due to an increased cholesterol level in your blood.

    New studies:

    1. The blood cholesterol level is not directly linked to the cholesterol in your food, meaning that the cholesterol in eggs does not equally increase your blood cholesterol. (Interview with Walter Willet)
    2. The cholesterol in eggs is not related to an increased risk of heart diseases even if you are genetically predisposed to high cholesterol levels. (study University of Eastern Finland)

    Conclusion:
    Eggs are without doubt a highly nutritious food which provides us with high protein, vitamins and minerals. The cholesterol level in the yolk is less dangerous than originally thought and therefore eggs can and should be part of your diet. It's not a free pass to eat three eggs daily but there is no harm in eating one egg a day. What is far more important is the food choice which accompanies your eggs. Choosing some green veggies and (sweet) potatoes over french fries, bacon (both high in saturated fats) and white toast (simple carbohydrate) will definitely lower your risk for heart diseases.

    Frozen fruits and veggies

     

    Nutrition Fact:
    Fruits and vegetables contain a wide variety of minerals and vitamins which help our bodies to function properly and fight diseases

    Myth:
    Frozen vegetable and fruits lose all their nutritional benefits and should be avoided

    Studies:

    1. Comparing the vitamin, fiber and mineral content of eight fruits and vegetables (corn, carrots, broccoli, spinach, peas, green beans, strawberries and blueberries) in their frozen and fresh state, did not show a significant difference. (New York Times 2016)
    2. Fresh products have the highest nutritional value when bought directly from the farm or harvested from your own garden. Transportation and longer storage at home reduce certain nutrients in fresh fruits and vegetables. (Source)
    3. Here is an interesting video how long certain vegetables and fruits take from harvesting until they are sold in the store.

    Conclusion:
    Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables fresh, if possible directly from your farm and eat within a day. If there is no possibility to get fresh produce nearby, buying frozen counterpart is, nutrition wise, a perfect alternative and can help to get all the vitamins and minerals you need.

    Granola is a healthy breakfast choice

    Nutrition Fact:
    The average granola you can buy in the store contains around 4 teaspoons or 16g of sugar per 1 cup. Even some brands which say "No added sugar" contain sugar substitutes and the equal amount of sugar.

    Myths:
    Granola is a healthy breakfast alternative to your normal cereals, with lots of healthy fats and fiber.

      What to be careful of:

      • What sugar source is used?
        Simple sugar such as white sugar, brown sugar, honey, agave syrup, date syrup let your blood sugar levels spike and let you crave more sugar within the next couple of hours. Chose granola which is sweetened with coconut syrup or rice syrup to keep your blood sugar levels balanced.
      • What other ingredients are used?
        Dried fruits add even more fructose to your breakfast bowl.
        Chocolate chips will increase your blood sugar levels immediately.

      Conclusion:
      Granola can be a healthy breakfast choice but you have to watch the ingredients closely and monitor the amount you add to your bowl. I usually recommend not more than 50g which is roughly 1/2 cup. Next time you prepare your breakfast, get a kitchen scale and weigh your granola.
      A great alternative to store bought granola is homemade one as you decide what comes in there. Make your own granola with this delicious recipe here

      Dairy is the only source of calcium

      Nutrition Fact:
      One glass of milk (whole fat) contains around 280mg of Calcium, one cup of plain yogurt around 450mg and 30g of Swiss Cheese around 270mg. This would give you the necessary 1000mg needed daily.

      Myths:
      If you don't eat any dairy products, you will not get enough calcium.

      Truth:
      There a several other foods, which provide you with enough calcium not coming from dairy. On the right side you'll see an overview of some dairy free food high in calcium. This list is just an extract and should not be considered terminal.
      Lot's of dairy free alternatives, such as milk alternatives and tofu, are available as calcium enhanced and will provide your body with the necessary amount.

      Conclusion:
      If you follow a dairy free diet, you can get your calcium needs from other sources such as dark leafy greens, soybeans, dried figs and calcium fortified foods. It is important to get your daily calcium intake as it is crucial for your bone health, especially for women who reached menopause. But not only your bones need calcium, it also helps your nervous system, blood clogging and your brain function. 

      Carbohydrates make you fat

      Nutrition Fact:
      Carbohydrates are the main energy source of our body and glucose (one of the molecules carbohydrates are made of) is the only energy source for our brain.
      1g of carbohydrate contains 4kcal and the average diet should contain around 50% of carbs.

      Myths:
      Pasta, bread and rice will make you fat.

      Truth:
      It is true, that sugar = carbohydrate is one of the main reasons for obesity and heart disease. It is also true that most of us do eat too much sugar.
      But it is also true, that the right choice of carbohydrates provides our body with the necessary energy and is the fuel for exercising and thinking. We can decide between two different kind of carbohydrates:

      • simple: short chained carbohydrates such as sugar, sweets, candies, cakes, chocolate, white rice, white flour etc.
      • complex: long chained carbohydrates such as whole grain flour and pasta, brown rice using the whole grain, vegetables and fruits, quinoa, legumes, pulses etc.
       

      The difference between those two groups is their impact on our blood sugar levels. Simple carbs are easily digested and let your blood sugar levels spike and drop. Complex carbs on the other hand, take a longer time to be digested and provide a steady flow of sugar released into your blood stream. This helps to keep your energy levels balanced and to avoid cravings for sweets.

      Conclusion:
      When choosing the right carbohydrates, they won't make you fat but they will provide you energy. Include lots of vegetables, fruits and whole grain products in your diet to balance your blood sugar levels and to prevent diabetes. Make a slow transition from white rice to brown rice, replace your white bread with whole grain breads and include legumes and pulses to your diet.


      The internet is a great tool to do your own research and read a lot about food and nutrition. But be careful and don't always believe everything you read. And of course, studies used in the above article are not supposed to be the 100% truth but it gives you an indication, that some food facts can be contradicted with recent studies. Maybe in another 20 years I will write again a similar article contradicting what I said today. Just be critical with what you read and don't turn your diet up side down just because you've read about it in the internet.