Busting some nutrition myths

Busting some nutrition myths
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First Published: Mon, May 18 2009. 10 52 PM IST

Updated: Mon, May 18 2009. 10 52 PM IST
Myth 1 | Sugar causes behavioural problems in kids
Facts: Way back in 1995, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that “sugar does not affect the behaviour or cognitive performance of children”, yet the American Academy of Pediatrics reports that 93% of parents ask if sugar should be avoided when their children are diagnosed with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adults forget how active children are and when you add in the excitement of a birthday party or a holiday such as Halloween, their behaviour seems to get even wilder. Parents assume that sugar is the reason.
Of course, no child needs added sugar. Instead of restricting all sugar, however, focus on naturally occurring sugars in foods such as fruits, 100% fruit juice or milk (yes, milk has sugar in the form of lactose) to sneak in the vitamins and minerals needed by growing children. Let your child eat the birthday cake and Halloween candy—in moderation, of course.
Myth 2 | High-fructose corn syrup causes weight gain
Facts: Not so, say several studies. High-fructose corn syrup is not sweeter than sugar and it doesn’t trick you into eating more calorie-rich foods. Last year, the American Medical Association said, “There is no proof that high-fructose corn syrup causes obesity.” We should limit our sugar intake—32g or about 7 teaspoons a day—of all sugary-rich foods and beverages, including high-fructose corn syrup, granulated sugar and brown sugar.
Myth 3 | Drinking water will help you lose weight
Facts: With around 350 varieties of bottled water in the market and all kinds of outrageous claims, remember that water is not a magic weight-loss beverage. Our brains monitor thirst and hunger in different parts, and water doesn’t help us feel full or suppress hunger. Water incorporated into food (such as soups, fruits and vegetables) can help with weight loss, but simply drinking water will not.
Myth 4 | A low-fat diet is healthiest
Facts: Low-fat or high-carbohydrate diets can increase your blood sugar, insulin levels and triglycerides unless you are extremely active. A smarter approach is to adopt a Mediterranean-style diet that includes healthy fats such as olive oil, avocados, nuts and fatty fish, with lower intakes of meat and processed foods.
Recommendations from most health organizations suggest consuming 25-35% of calories from fat, with an emphasis on the good fats, while eating fewer of the bad fats (saturated and trans-fats).
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The writer is a professor of nutrition in the College of Health and Human Sciences at Georgia State University.
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First Published: Mon, May 18 2009. 10 52 PM IST
More Topics: Nutrition | Myths | Health | Low-fat | Weight-loss |