Do you get too little protein if you don’t eat meat? Do light products really belong to a healthy diet? And should you avoid fat? Another question fits with such questions: fact or fable?
When it comes to information about healthy food, many Dutch people can no longer see the wood for the trees. At least that is what research by Green Chef shows. The meal box proposes ‘to create clarity once and for all’. Questions and answers about food, from fat to healthy food, always fun of course. For example, is it good to eat ‘those strings of a banana’?
Facts and myths about healthy food
Daniet Shachar, dietician at Green Chef, takes a closer look at six facts and myths in connection with the results on healthy nutrition.
1. ‘Orange juice is healthier than soft drinks’
It is often assumed that orange juice is a lot healthier than soft drinks, two out of five Dutch people also think. However, this seems to be not too bad, mainly due to the high amount of sugars. Dietitian Daniet Shachar: “Eating an orange is very healthy, but drinking only the juice of an orange separates the fiber from the sugars. As a result, in addition to the vitamin C present, you mainly ingest sugar unnoticed.”
2. ‘If you don’t eat meat, you don’t get enough protein’
It is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions about healthy nutrition to vegans and vegetarians: ‘Are you getting enough protein?’ The aforementioned study shows that more than 30 percent of the Dutch think that this is not the case. Shachar: “Meat is indeed a good source of protein, but it is certainly not the only one. There are more than enough protein-rich, plant-based foods. For example, I like to use legumes: a cup of cooked lentils already contains 18 grams of protein. Soy products such as tofu and tempeh are also an excellent source of protein.”
3. ‘Meat substitutes are unhealthy’
There are many types of meat substitutes and one is not the other when it comes to healthy food. Recent research by the Consumers’ Association shows that a lot veggie burgers too much salt and saturated fats. Research by Green Chef shows that 17 percent of the Dutch think that meat substitutes are unhealthy. “Yet they are still healthier than beef burgers,” says Shachar. “Moreover, there are also meat substitutes that meet the guidelines of the Consumers’ Association, which shows that it remains important to read labels and not to accept all health claims.”
The composition of nearly two-thirds of the #vegaburgers is not very healthy 😧 And the nutritional value turns out to be easy to improve.
— Consumer Association (@Consumentenbond) February 27, 2023
Healthy food: carbohydrates, light and also fats?
4. ‘Carbohydrates are unhealthy’
Keto and low-carb diets are in demand, and that makes some suspicious of carbohydrates. 14 percent of the Dutch think that carbohydrates are by definition healthy food, even unhealthy, but in fact they are an essential part of a balanced diet. Shachar: “There is a difference between simple and complex carbohydrates. The first are simply sugars, the second also contain fiber, vitamins and minerals. These are mainly found in whole grain products, quinoa and vegetables such as broccoli. The Nutrition Center advises getting 40 to 70 percent of your calories from carbohydrates.”
5. ‘Light products are always healthier’
At first glance, light products seem like a healthy alternative. One in ten Dutch people think the same way, a low percentage when it comes to healthy food. But that healthy alternative is not always the case. Shachar clarifies: “Light products often contain fewer calories, but fats are often replaced by sugars or sweeteners, for example. The amount of calories does not say everything about how healthy a product is. The quality of ingredients and the amount of nutrients are at least as important”.
6. ‘All fats are unhealthy’
5 percent of the Dutch are convinced that all fats are unhealthy. Yet this is a myth. “Fats are essential, but not all. Saturated fat and trans fats, especially present in processed products, are better avoided. Unsaturated fats are part of the healthy diet. These are mainly found in (olive) oil, oily fish and nuts. They contribute to a healthy cholesterol level, healthy heart and blood vessels. When devising our meals, we always ensure balanced meals that contain healthy, i.e. unsaturated fats. Nevertheless, it is important to keep healthy fats in moderation as well,” concludes dietitian Shachar.
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