Posted by Brigham and Women's Hospital October 30, 2012
Are you avoiding certain foods because of health concerns? There are some common myths about which foods are healthy for us, especially if we have high cholesterol and/or diabetes. Read on to find out which foods deserve to be back on your plate and what you should avoid.
- Myth #1: Never eat shrimp if you have high cholesterol – Therapeutic Lifestyle Changes (TLC) guidelines from the National Cholesterol Education Program allow 200 milligrams of cholesterol daily. While three ounces of shrimp has 166 milligrams of cholesterol, the TLC guidelines do recommend having shrimp occasionally. Shrimp is very low in saturated fat, even lower than white chicken without the skin. Shrimp is also low in calories, rich in protein, and contains a significant amount of selenium, an antioxidant which protects cells from damage.
- Myth #2: Carrots, rich in sugar, should be avoided, especially by people with diabetes – The naturally occurring sugars in carrots are digested quickly compared with other carbohydrates, meaning they move into the blood stream quickly compared with other foods. However, carrots contain minimal sugar so their impact on blood sugar levels is nil. One pound of of carrots contains only one tablespoon of naturally occurring sugars. And carrots have many important nutritional benefits. They are rich in fiber and beta carotene and low in calories, which can help with weight loss.
- Myth #3: Eggs are a heart attack on a plate – One egg yolk has 212 milligrams of cholesterol, a day’s supply of cholesterol according to the TLC guidelines. However, even the TLC guidelines allow two egg yolks per week. Why? One yolk contains less than 2 grams of saturated fat, the main culprit in driving up “bad” cholesterol. The white and the yolk both contain high quality protein, which supports healing, and enhanced eggs that contain omega-3 fatty acids have extra nutritional value.
- Myth #4: 100% fruit juice is natural, so it’s healthy – Surprisingly, natural fruit juices usually have about as much or more sugar as soda! Fruit juice is made by straining out the liquids from fruit, which concentrates the natural sugars from fruit, making them more dense. In the liquid form, the sugars can also be digested more quickly than in solid fruit. Another negative is that most of the naturally-occurring fiber is removed when making juice. Fiber is helpful for weight loss, blood sugar control and lowering cholesterol.
In conclusion, carrots in healthy portions will not overload your sugar intake. On the other hand, beware of “natural” fruit juices, which can spike your blood glucose levels and add calories, especially in medium to large amounts. For egg yolks and shrimp, moderation rather than elimination is the way to go.
Which foods are you choosing for better health?
Beth Klos, RD, LDN