5 Common Nutrition Questions AnsweredPosted: September 16, 2014
Your health is huge! Of course you’ve got questions. And we’ve got love-your-body answers. Let’s start with diet. Following, we’ll take a look at some interesting common nutrition uncertainties, with answers that’ll help set your mind straight and your waistline even straighter.
Will nuts make me fat?
In moderation, nuts are an excellent addition to your diet. They are high in protein and fiber, and make for a crunchy, satisfying snack. But what about all their fat, you ask? While nuts do contain a significant amount, most of this fat is of a beneficial variety to your body in the form of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats.
“In fact, some studies show that people who eat a handful of nuts daily weigh less than those who don’t eat nuts,” says LifeVest health coach Bridget Wright, MPH. “This is because nuts have a high satiety content, meaning they make you feel full and satisfied.”
Just don’t go too nuts. Since they are calorie-dense, Wright recommends sticking to no more than a handful or so per day. She notes that the best choices are raw almonds and walnuts, or toasted pistachios, all of which are superior to most crackers, pretzels, and other — fat-free or no t— empty-calorie, crunchy snacks.
Carbs – are they truly my enemy?
We sure hope not. Otherwise, our daily banana-eating habit has us in trouble. Luckily, Wright assures us, “Not all carbs are created equal.” Here’s the good news: Items such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains all contain carbs, yet are healthy additions to your diet. On the flip side, unhealthy carbs include sugars, white breads, and processed foods. The difference is, Wright explains,
“Healthy carbs provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, and are a vital part of the diet, whereas unhealthy carbs are empty calorie foods, meaning they have little nutritional value.”
So, if you’re on a banana-at-every-breakfast kick too, you can rest assured, those carbs you’re fueling your morning with certainly aren’t your enemy.
Does eating after 8 p.m. really cause weight gain?
We are firm advocates of stopping your intake of food after 8 p.m. However, this isn’t because once the clock strikes eight, calories magically double their size in weight. There is nothing unique about taking in calories later in the evening, except for the fact that this is the time when people generally start munching on potato chips, chocolate, and other junk food.
“With weight gain, the most important factor is the total number of calories eaten per day,” explains Wright.
“So, a light snack after 8 pm would be fine, but only as long as you don’t exceed your total number of calories per day.” Rather than wondering whether you can budget in one more snack, leave your calories instead at the dinner table, and keep things simple with a no-snacking-after-8 policy. Taking this mindset will cut down on your desire to reach for that post-dinner handful of pretzels or cookies, which, whether your calorie count allows for it or not, will not be beneficial to your health. Wright also notes, “Keep in mind eating heavy meals late at night can contribute to digestion problems, reflux, and difficulty sleeping.” After dinner, find an activity to occupy your mind outside of food, and make it a relaxing routine.
Are those pricier brown eggs better than white?
Our motto: Don’t judge an egg by its color. Instead, judge it by the home of the hen that laid it.
“It’s more important to look for eggs that are high in heart-healthy Omega-3s, which means the hens were fed a diet high in this substance,” says Wright.
Farmers who supplement their chickens’ feed with an Omega-3 source such as, flax seeds, will yield eggs containing higher amounts of this beneficial fat.
Note, tests show pastured eggs are shown to have twice the amount of omega-3s as factory-farmed eggs.
So, when able, seek out local sources that enable you to speak with the farmer about the chickens’ living conditions. If the farmer’s chickens are running around in a pasture vs. caged up in small pens, you can ensure your eggs will more than likely have higher Omega-3 counts, whether their carton they come in says so or not. Unfortunately, labels seen at the supermarket, like “free-range” or “cage-free”, can’t always boast the same. Ninety percent of the eggs we eat come from chickens that live in long lines of wire cages with about eight birds to a cage, and the “cage-free” labels you see on cartons sadly aren’t always fully truthful. Currently there’s no third party that certifies egg producers are actually maintaining such conditions. If you can’t go local, look for an “Animal Welfare Approved” label on your carton. The AWA is a third party auditing organization that supports independent farmers, and ensures they uphold true cage-free and outdoor living conditions. As for whether to reach for the brown or the white? Egg-cellent news for your wallet –the color of the egg is determined by the breed of the hen who lays them, and is not related to nutrient quality.
Can I swap fruit for juice and get the same benefits?
If you want to live apple-y ever after in good health, steer clear of the juice. Eating whole fruit is significantly more nutritious than drinking fruit juice.
“Fruit juice lacks the valuable dietary fiber found in whole fruits, and it’s high sugar content leads to spikes in blood sugar,” says Wright. “Each 8 0z. serving is usually about 100-150 unnecessary calories.”
View fruit juice almost as you would soda, and try eliminate it all together, or save it for special occasions only. Instead, if you’re craving something aside from water that tastes a little fruity, reach for apple cinnamon tea. The cinnamon will naturally sweeten your cup, no honey or added sugar needed, and has also been shown to help lower blood sugar. Alternatively, if you’re truly hungry, consider a smoothie instead. Smoothies retain the fiber and full nutrients of the fruits you put into them. Perhaps add some cinnamon too for its bonus health value!