Food Fact or Fiction?
Dieting trick or mealtime misperception? Read on
Don’t believe everything you eat – or is it don’t eat everything you hear? Regardless, there are plenty of food myths that get passed around every day without any thought about whether or not they’re actually true. Here, Heather Mangieri, licensed dietitian, nutrition expert and spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, and Lynn Grieger, registered dietitian and personal fitness coach in Manchester, Vt., evaluate which of these “foodisms” are fact and which are fiction.
Eating Salsa Burns Fat
Salsa can surely burn tongues, but can it burn fat too? “Possibly, but it depends on how it’s made,” Mangieri says. Studies have shown that capsaicin – the kick behind chili peppers – can speed up metabolism by up to 25 percent for up to three hours after consumption. Other hot peppers, like jalapeños or habañeros, have the same effect, and so adding them into a salsa recipe can help burn more calories and fat. While those unable to tame the fiery flavor of hot salsa won’t burn off calories, Mangieri reassures that even mild salsa has its benefits: It’s a great source of vitamin A and C and is an easy way to get an extra serving of vegetables.
Blotting Pizza Makes It Considerably Less Fattening
“While using a napkin or paper towel to blot visible grease from pizza may soak up a few fat grams,” Mangieri says, “the exact amount is unknown and will not result in making the pizza considerably less fattening.” It’s true that every little bit can help reduce fat and calories, but Mangieri suggests that the best solution is to simply skip high-fat meats as toppings and opt for vegetables instead.
Fat-Free Foods are Loaded with Sugar
When food manufacturers remove the fat from food, sugar is often used as a flavor replacement. That doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better, though. “The problem comes from over-consuming fat-free products,” Mangieri says. She explains that the body takes carbohydrates, or sugars, and turns them into fat when there are more calories consumed than necessary. Fat-free doesn’t necessarily mean artificial, though, as Grieger notes a healthy snack like an apple is naturally fat-free with no added sugar.
The Worst Time of Day to Eat is Right Before Bed
The real issue here is not when we eat, but what we eat. “Research actually shows that the amount of calories we consume in a day has a bigger impact on body weight than the time of day that we eat,” Grieger says. “Many people tend to eat more junk and snack food at night, which could potentially increase our fat and sodium intake.” Instead, Grieger suggests snacking on fresh fruit at night to get fiber and beneficial nutrients. Eating before bed, in general, though, means that your body undertakes processes like digestion, absorption and metabolism while you’re sleeping, which can have a negative impact on the quality and length of sleep. “What a person eats or drinks before bed may be the difference between a restful night of sleep and a night of tossing and turning,” Mangieri says.
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