Do we need eight glasses of water a day or does dark chocolate help us lose weight? Nutritionist and dietician Vasundhara Agrawal (consultant with Practo) busts six everyday health and nutrition myths
There are numerous misconceptions about health and nutrition that we come across everyday. People tend to believe myths and half-truths about diet and nutrition which they may have read online or heard from someone, and make themselves more anxious about their health. When it comes to nutrition, there is a thin line between fact and fiction. And, we have to be logical, use our discretion, and believe information which comes from trusted sources.
Here is a list of six most common health and nutrition myths, and the facts behind them.
Myth 1: Salads are the healthiest thing you can eat
Fact: Many diet fiends consider salads the safest option. But it shouldn’t be so. Salads often contain sugar, sauce, and toppings which are packed with calories. Salads, which contain bacon or other processed meats, processed cheese, croutons, dried fruits may have more fat and sugar than you signed up for.
If you want to eat an actually healthy salad, try and make it with fresh, leafy greens, eggs, fresh fruits, beans, and fresh herbs, with light dressing. A classic olive oil and lime dressing, or chilli and lime dressing are healthier options.
Myth 2: You must drink eight glasses of water everyday
Fact: You don’t have to count the number of glasses of water you are drinking in a day. Your daily fluid intake can be met by water in the form of milk, vegetable juice, fruits, or even caffeinated beverages. By all means, you can drink eight glasses of water in a day if you like, but it is a mere misconception that only plain water can contribute to your daily fluid needs.
Myth 3: You should eat brown bread, and not white
Fact: This is a long-perpetuated marketing myth that a lot of people believe in. Brown bread is looked at as an ‘healthier’ alternative to white bread. But the truth is that the colour of the bread doesn’t determine its nutrient content. When buying bread, or for that matter any other packaged product, look at the ingredient list carefully. Brown bread may just be coloured white bread and not necessarily more nutritious. The glucose, cholesterol, or fat content in brown bread could be the same as white.
Myth 4: Dark chocolate can help burn fat.
Fact: People often replace dessert with dark chocolate assuming it will help them lose wight and burn fat. That’s what we have heard and read over the years. While eating a little chocolate will not set you back from your fitness goals, but too much dark chocolate may not be good for you either. Polyphenols and flavonoids present in dark chocolate are good for you and may help in burning fat, lowering blood pressure, or enhancing your mood, but the benefits of these nutrients are lost if the chocolate is ultra processed. You have to check how processed your dark chocolate is, or how much saturated fat it contains.
Myth 5: No carbs will help you lose weight
Fact: Carbohydrates are considered the enemy when it comes to weight loss. But they are extremely essential for your energy needs, for concentration, as well as stamina. Therefore, it is not advisable to cut out carbs from your diet completely. You could be missing out on important nutrients that are responsible for maintaining a healthy body and a healthy mind. Whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds are all good carbs and very nutritious.
Myth 6: Pick sea salt over table salt
Fact: Health advocates are always telling you that sea salt is way healthier than normal salt. Sea salt contains electrolytes like calcium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and potassium, making it a good addition to your diet. However, the truth is that these are present in minuscule quantities. More importantly, we need iodine for the production of thyroid hormones, which help in the development of bones and the brain. They also help maintain the body’s metabolism. You can definitely add sea salt to your food, but don’t skip table salt completely.