by Jarueba Taylor
There is an age old saying that goes “Proper nutrition is all the medicine you need.” With that being said, there are a few ideas of nutrition that people constantly get wrong. Today we are going to look at five nutritional beliefs and how they are just slightly off from what the actual better nutritional choices are.
Oranges are not the highest form of Vitamin C.
“Oh, my friend you are low on Vitamin C, grab an orange or have some OJ.” How many times have you heard someone say that? Vitamin C is one of the most important micronutrients to our health. Vitamin C is important for the formation of proteins used to make skin, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. Vitamin C also helps wounds, repair cartilage, bones, scar tissue and teeth. What if I was to tell you even though oranges are very high in Vitamin C, they are not the end all be all of Vitamin C. Somewhere along the line oranges has gotten a rep for being the king of Vitamin C but one large orange only provides 98 mg of Vitamin C. Here is a surprise for some of you, a cup of chopped red peppers will provide you with almost two times the amount of Vitamin C. As a matter of fact, oranges only rank number five best when it comes to overall Vitamin C content. The number one fruit for Vitamin C content would actually be guavas and the number one vegetable would be red bell peppers. So, the next time you want a shot of Vitamin C in your diet reach for a Guava or a Bell Pepper.
If you need Potassium in your diet do not grab for a banana right away.
This is another case of misplaced fruit. For years we were made to believe that if you needed extra potassium, you should grab a banana right away. Potassium is important to your body because it helps regulate proper fluid and electrolyte levels. Without proper electrolyte levels you can exhibit side effects ranging from fatigue and cramping up to serious cardiac issues. When it comes to potassium rich foods, would you believe bananas only rank ninth. Foods such as Beet Greens, Salmon, White Kidney Beans, Avocado, White Potatoes, Acorn Squash, 16 oz of milk, and White Mushrooms all rank higher than a banana for potassium count. While bananas are a good choice for potassium rich foods, there are a whole host of other foods that you could chose from and get even more potassium per serving.
Blueberries are a great source of antioxidants but not the best.
Antioxidants are what we need in our bodies to savage free radicals and prevent cellular damage. Antioxidants help us live longer and at a higher quality of life due to the repair they aid in with our bodies. While blueberries have been touted as the poster child for antioxidant foods, there are two food that ranks even higher. The two foods that have more antioxidants than blueberries are two different variety of beans. A half cup of small red beans has more antioxidants than a full cup of wild blueberries. A half cup of Red Kidney beans has almost as many antioxidants as a full cup of wild blueberries. Even though these two types of beans do score higher on an antioxidant profile than blueberries, make no mistake blueberries (especially the wild kind) are probably the number two/ three best antioxidant food out there. Remember we are simply looking from a best food possible standpoint.
Vegan eating is healthier than eating a diet with meat
Let me start by saying I’m not talking social conscious or religious behavior. I am talking about eating from a strictly nutritional perspective. Within the past few years, veganism and vegan eating has become all of the vogue. The true question however, is vegan eating healthier for you from a nutritional standpoint only?
First let’s look at protein and its importance in a diet. Protein is arguably the most important macronutrient in a diet. Protein is the basic building block of life. Protein helps build, repair, and structure so many things in the human body the list would be way too long to write. Because this nutrient is so important, it is important that we get adequate amounts of it in our diets. Often in vegan diets protein is deemphasized. Not only do non meat eaters not get enough protein in their diets but they do not get enough quality protein in their diets. Everyone should have a good amount of complete protein sources in their diets. Vegans often get a lot of incomplete protein sources in their diet. The main difference between complete and incomplete proteins is that complete proteins contain all essential amino acids your body requires daily, and incomplete proteins only contain some essential amino acids. Non meat eaters will get their protein from non- meat sources such as protein powders or plant sources. While some plant sources offer protein, often these are incomplete proteins while animal proteins are complete proteins. Often non meat eaters will have to use a combination of foods to make complete protein sources. Whether you are a meat eater or non-meat eater make sure to get between .75 to 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. This will be much harder to do from non-meat sources without taking in too many carbohydrates or fats.
The second thing we want to look at is carb intake. In vegan diets carbohydrate intake tends to be much higher. While a higher intake of fruits and veggies will provide more vitamins and minerals, a higher intake of pastas and simple carbs will do more harm than good. Too many excess carbs in the diet can easily be converted to fat in the body. Because Vegan diets are mostly carb based, vegans tend to get an excessive amount of carbs in their diets. If you are eating a vegan diet, focus more on a higher intake of vegetables and some fruits. The last bit of your carbs should come from not vegetable and fruit sources.
The last thing to look at is dietary balance and caloric intake. Vegan diets often tend to be much higher in carbohydrate and fat intake. This will lead to unknowingly taking in excess calories and unbalanced nutrition. Animal proteins tend to satiate the body more resulting in a smaller intake of non-protein macronutrients resulting in less unintentional caloric surplus. This one isn’t so much which one is better but more about making smart choices no matter what style of eating you choose. Make sure that you are balancing your nutritional intake and getting adequate amounts of protein in your diet.
Drinking juice will give you the same benefit as drinking water.
Here is a fact. The human body can actually last the span of a couple of weeks without food but can only survive a matter of days without water. Your body is comprised of 73% water so not drinking sufficient amounts of water is only harming your body more than helping. Water is vital for the health of the brain, skin, muscles, and removal of toxins from your body. Water’s most important role in the body is hydration. Without proper hydration the body is prone to weight gain, premature aging, an inability to regulate temperature, and many other health issues.
People often think they can get adequate water intake by drinking juice but that simply is not true. Juice contains less water and more sugar than in the equivalent amount of water. People also often tend to drink less juice than they would the same amount in water. Another downside to drinking a lot of juice is the amount of sugar that comes with drinking a lot of juice, fruit juice being far worse than vegetable juice. Because juices have little to no fiber the absorption of sugar is not slowed in the blood stream causing huge insulin spikes. The liver has a difficult time breaking down fructose in liquid form and often treats it like other forms of sugar in the body, over time this can lead to weight gain and other sugar related health issues. In the long run water will give you more actual health benefits than consuming juice.
Balancing Things Out
Often when trying to get our nutrition right we may make nutritional choices that may not be optimal. Some of our nutritional choices may even be pretty good but are they the absolute best choices? Certain foods that we were led to believe to be the best in their categories are not as good as some of their lesser known counterparts. If your goal is to get certain nutrients in make sure you are making the best nutritional choices for your goals.