5 Nutrition Myths Busted
Here are five top nutrition myths, busted with the cold, hard facts:
1. Myth: Turkey makes you sleepy.
Turkey alone will not make you sleepy. It's true that L-tryptophan, an essential amino acid found in turkey and many other protein foods, can have a sedative effect in some people, says Linda Yerardi, R.D., a diabetes nutrition educator at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland. But its effects are blunted by the presence of other amino acids in turkey, which compete for the same binding sites in the brain, she notes. "You'd have to take L-tryptophan alone (with no other amino acids present) and on an empty stomach to produce any drowsiness. "Lots of other foods, including ground beef and chicken, contain L-tryptophan, too, and don't have this reputation.
Turkey gets a bad rap because of Thanksgiving," Yerardi continues. "People get sleepy after this meal for a variety of factors, not the L-tryptophan alone. The more likely reason is that it takes a great deal of energy to digest a large meal. A full stomach means that blood is directed away from other bodily functions and systems, including your nervous system. This can make you sleepy."
Enjoy turkey in these healthy recipes:
2. Myth: Oatmeal is always a healthier breakfast option than eggs.
Both eggs and oatmeal are great breakfast choices, says Jennifer Neily, R.D., a dietitian at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas, Texas. "I love oatmeal because ¾ cup of the dry oats provides 3 grams of soluble oat fiber needed for cholesterol-lowering." Neily adds that "there's also something about a hot breakfast that gives a ‘stick to the ribs' feeling and is very satiating for most people." As for eggs, they're an excellent source of protein that also makes for a solid breakfast, says Neily. Research has shown that protein can help keep you fuller, since protein takes longer than carbohydrates to digest.
Eat a better breakfast with these healthy recipes:
3. Myth: Eating oysters helps get you "in the mood."
Sparking libido with food is more fable than fact, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which reviewed the science on the subject. So why, then, do some people report heightened arousal after eating "aphrodisiacs"? Experts say it's all in the mind-and in the heart, literally. "Experiencing increased libido from an aphrodisiac is analogous to feeling healing properties from placebos," explains June Meyer, M.A., L.P.C., a psychotherapist in Stamford, Connecticut. "What's in your mind matters more than what's in your stomach. But if you think a particular food works for you," says Meyer, "why not go for it?"
Boost your mood with these healthy foods:
4. Myth: Food allergies can make you fat.
There is no evidence at all to suggest that food allergies contribute to weight gain or weight retention, says Brian Smart, M.D., an allergist with DuPage Medical Group in Glen Ellyn, Illinois. "Food allergy is related to IgE antibodies and these have no influence at all on hormones that affect weight, such as thyroid hormone, growth hormone or insulin, or on any other regulatory process that can affect overall metabolism."
Healthy recipes to try:
5. Myth: Getting the recommended daily servings of veggies is impossible.
While the number of vegetable servings you should eat depends on a variety of things-how old you are, how active, whether you're male or female-the latest recommendations advise eating at least 5 servings a day. But it's easier than you think: first of all, a standard serving of vegetables is only ½ cup. (For raw leafy greens, it's 1 cup.) And it's easy to fit them all in if you include them at every meal. Try spinach in your eggs in the morning and have a big salad topped with some cucumbers and tomatoes for lunch. At dinner, fill half your plate with grilled veggies. There. You're done!
Eat more veggies with these healthy recipes: