Friday, April 1, 2011

Does Greasy Food Really Give You Zits?

Here, six of the most common food myths, and the nugget of truth each contains that you can use to your health or weight loss advantage.

Food Lies You Shouldn't Believe

They run amok online, through e-mail chains and even across generations, making it harder and harder to separate fact from fiction.
Drinking water helps you lose weight

The nugget of truth: Water may trim meal size

Just adding a few glasses to your day isn’t going to melt away fat, but research shows if you drink up before a meal, you may eat less. Scientists at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University followed a group of adults on low-calorie diets for 12 weeks; they found that those who had two cups of water before each of their daily meals lost 4.5 more pounds than the non-water drinkers. Filling your stomach with a zero-calorie substance might lead to smaller meals, say scientists; plus, substituting water for soda and juices also helps save calories. Hate the nontaste of plain water? Stick a slice of lemon or lime in it, or look for flavored varieties that are calorie free: Some types of vitamin water, for example, contain 200 calories a bottle; drinking one a day could lead to a 20-pound weight gain in a year.
French fries give you zits

The tidbit of truth: Greasy fingers makes acne worse

Excess oil in your skin causes acne, but oily foods don’t contribute to the problem—that is, unless you’re a messy eater. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), when some vegetable oils get on the skin, they could make existing acne worse—so wipe your mouth if you miss, and keep greasy fingers off your face. What about chocolate? Scientists may need to look at this one a little more closely. Though experts agree specific foods don’t cause acne, very preliminary research presented at the AAD conference this year found that eating pure chocolate may exacerbate acne in people prone to pimples.
White flour is bleached with dangerous chemicals

The tidbit of truth: White flour is bleached, but the chemicals are safe

Flour whitens naturally on its own as yellow compounds called xantophylls react with oxygen in the air; this takes several weeks. To speed the process, manufacturers bleach flour, turning it white from its natural straw color, with safe, FDA-regulated chemicals (some of the same ones used to sanitize veggies). Alloxan—a compound that caused diabetes in animal research—may form as a byproduct, but the amount is minuscule (less than 0.03 mg per slice of bread) and harmless, says Julie Jones, PhD, professor emerita of family, consumer, and nutritional sciences at St. Catherine University. Is white flour less nutritious? Yes; the processing strips away essential nutrients such as fiber, magnesium, and vitamin E. Is it dangerous? No.
Carrots make you see better

The nugget of truth: Carrots contain nutrients that help keep eyes healthy

They are rich in vitamin A, and vitamin A is absolutely important for eye health—but there’s nothing magical in this orange veggie. Spinach, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin are also good sources. So yes, carrots are good for your vision, but no, they won’t improve it, say experts at the American Academy of Ophthalmology. To keep your peepers in tip-top shape, it’s more important to eat an overall balanced diet so you get all essential nutrients, and watch your weight—obesity increases your risk of diabetes and other chronic conditions, which can lead to vision loss.
Eating after dark packs on pounds

The nugget of truth: People are more prone to overeat at night

Consuming too many calories is what makes you gain weight—it doesn’t really matter what time of day you do it. That said, more people tend to overindulge at night out of boredom or other emotions instead of hunger—calories that are then stored as fat. Also, those who eat late-night often wake up without an appetite and skip breakfast, the meal that has been shown to control calorie intake throughout the day. To help curb nighttime noshing: Brush your teeth after your last meal (it sends a powerful message that eating time is over); “close” the kitchen 2 hours before bedtime; and keep snacks out of sight.

Sugar causes diabetes

The nugget of truth: Sugar contributes to weight gain, which ups your risk

It doesn’t lead to diabetes the same way cigarettes cause cancer, but research shows that sugar may play a role. We know being overweight increases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and consuming too much sugar makes you put on pounds. Some science, though, has linked excess sugar intake to increased risk regardless of weight—one study found women nearly doubled their diabetes risk when they increased the number of sugar-added drinks from 1 or fewer a week to 1 or more per day over a 4-year period. (Search: diabetes symptoms.) To be safe, watch your weight; eat lots of high-fiber foods (which keep blood sugar steady); and opt for water or tea over sugary soft drinks whenever possible.
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