The truth is that there’s too much information online regarding how several foods can, or cannot, benefit our health. With all this information, those of you who want to follow a healthy diet -and not only- won’t be able to understand what is good for you to eat or what to avoid. So, since I hear so many different things, I thought of looking into this a little more and see what is actually valid. Shall we take a look at some of the myths that I discovered?
Myth #1: All salads are healthy!
Of course, the fact that you’ll eat a salad -or you’ll order a salad at a restaurant- while following a diet, does not always mean that it is the healthiest choice or the one with the least calories. A salad can have plenty of dried fruits, a variety of nuts or seeds, various cheeses, eggs, croutons, bacon, and of course a lot of dressing with added sugar. Even foods like avocado or nuts should not be consumed in large quantities; this actually depends on each person’s individual caloric needs. So, be careful as you might end up eating something pretty high in calories while your goal was the exact opposite.
Myth #2: Organic products are healthy products.
The fact that a product is organic does not mean that we can consume it uncontrollably. A label indicating that a product is organic does not automatically give our food the magic property of not having any calories. If, for instance, you want to eat an organic chocolate energy bar with peanut butter, tahini, nuts, seeds, and honey, it doesn’t mean that it will have no calories, fats, and sugars just because it’s organic. The fact that a product is organic merely shows that no pesticides have been used during the cultivation of fruits/vegetables and no antibiotics during the breeding of animals. For this reason, they are simply considered better-quality products.
Myth #3: Margarine is a lot better than butter.
For those of you who prefer margarine than butter, I should simply tell you that the calories in margarine can range from 400 to 650 kcal, while the calories in butter can range from 500 to 750 kcal per 100 g. As you see in both cases, there are plenty of calories. Margarine also has a lot of saturated and trans fats, while butter mainly contains saturated fats. According to many studies, trans fats are responsible for the increased mortality rate and for causing many cardiovascular diseases. If you include either the one or the other into your diet, then you should simply check the ingredients of each product carefully, so to be fully aware of what it contains, as well as consume them in moderation. Always prefer those that contain non-hydrogenated trans fats.
Myth #4: Low-fat products are better than full-fat products.
In diets, it is very common to use low-fat products, but full-fat products can also be part of a balanced diet, as long as they are consumed reasonably. I will point out once again that it is very important to check the ingredients of the products you consume since, a lot of times, fats are replaced with sugar or salt. In that way, you will end up eating something not so nutrient-dense that can actually give you the same or even more calories. Moreover, you shouldn’t be afraid of fats – they are also necessary for our body’s normal function. Simply be careful with the quantities, eat as much as your body really needs, and choose foods that have the so-called “good” fats like the avocado, olive oil, nuts, and oily fish (e.g. salmon, tuna and sardines).
Once again, I will stress out that everything needs balance. When you follow a balanced diet and there is normal physical activity in your everyday lives, then it is, of course, alright to eat a little butter, margarine, or a full-fat food. Simply try to collect the right information regarding everything you hear and then come to the right conclusions.
This article was written in collaboration with Kitchen Lab’s Sports Nutritionist Anna Maria Volanaki, MSc, BDA, SENr.