If an apple a day can keep the doctor away, can a plate of meat do the same?
We all know what kinds of foods we should eating daily — mix in fruits and vegetables, some dairy, some type of meat, a few carbs, and you're making every dietitian's dream come true.
Most of us try to follow this method, and some reports have shown some people still can't seem to fully grasp 'serving size' labels and other sections mentioned in Canada's Food Guide.
But there are some food rules we all seem to believe: We know avocados, salmon, and most fruits and vegetables are good for our health, but should we actually be eating these foods everyday? Jessny Maureaye, a consultant dietitian based in Toronto, says single-food diets are never the answer.
"No one single food contains all the nutrients and vitamins that your body needs, so try and include some variation in your diet. I encourage you to try a new vegetable, fruit or whole grain weekly," she says.
Maureaye adds if you are looking for ideas to meal plan or figure out which foods to add to your grocery list, keep fibre in mind.
"On average Canadians only get 15 grams of fibre daily. Recommendations are 25 grams to 35 grams. Good sources of fibre include whole grains, oats, beans, fruit, vegetables and nuts," she tells The Huffington Post Canada.
Health Canada recommends at least seven to eight servings of fruits and vegetables and six to seven grain products for anyone between the ages of 19 to 50. But some health experts argue that our nation's food guide may not be the best resource for weight loss and can use improvement in areas of calories and adding 'other foods,' according to BestHealthMag.ca.
Maureaye adds that food myths often stem from media reports and branding of certain foods, and suggests if you're looking for a place to start, try to fit a bit of everything in moderation.
But should you be eating these healthy foods everyday? Maureaye gives us the myths — and facts.
CLAIM: Avocados have too much good fat that will lead to weight gain if you eat too many of them
TRUTH: "Wrong, avocados are high in omega-9, a type of good fat also found in olive oils. These unsaturated healthy fats can help you lower blood cholesterol levels and maintain skin and eye health," says Jessny Maureaye, a consultant dietitian based in Toronto.
She adds avocados are healthy fruits that can be eaten daily in moderation — so have a few pieces rather than eating the whole fruit.
CLAIM: Bananas are high in sugar and potassium and should not be consumed daily
TRUTH: Bananas are higher in calories and sugar content than most fruits, but they also are fat and cholesterol-free, and a good source of fibre, Maureaye says. "According to Canada's Food Guide, it's recommended to have two servings of fruits daily. One small banana is one serving, a full-sized banana would be your two servings. Eating bananas as often as every day will not likely have adverse effects as long as you don't exceed your calorie needs," she says. However, relying on a banana-only diet may result in missing out important nutrients and vitamins found in other fruits.
CLAIM: Eat fish daily to get heart-healthy omega-3 fats
TRUTH: Yes, oily fish, such as salmon, herring, mackerel and sardines are an excellent source of omega-3, but they don't need to be consumed every day. "To get your recommendations, you only need to eat fatty fish two to three times per week," Maureaye says.
CLAIM: Eating citrus fruits too often can cause stomach upset
TRUTH: Citrus fruits, including oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruits and tangerines are great sources of vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, folate and potassium, Maureaye says. "Vitamin C is an excellent antioxidant, and helps decrease inflammation in the body. Canada's Food Guide recommends two to three servings of fruit daily, so try and make one fruit daily a citrus fruit."
However, be alert about mixing certain citrus fruits with medication. Some studies have shown mixing grapefruit juice with drugs can even lead to death, according to CBC.ca.
CLAIM: Nuts are too high in fat
TRUTH: Wrong, nuts are rich in energy, protein, vitamins and minerals, omega-3 fatty acids and fibre, just to name a few benefits, Maureaye says. "The healthy unsaturated fat in nuts help promote satiety and act as a good mid-day snack. The recommendation is 15 to 20 nuts daily," she says. When choosing your nuts, remember: almonds are full of calcium and walnuts are high in omega-3.
CLAIM: An apple a day keeps the doctor away
TRUTH: "True, one study found that those who eat one apple a day lowered their risk of heart attack by 32 per cent," Maureaye says. Apples are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals, fibre and phytochemicals and have a powerful antioxidant effect.
CLAIM: Berries are too sugary
TRUTH: "Blueberries are one of the top food sources of antioxidants that help fight disease and reduce inflammation," Maureaye says. And yes, they are sweet — but not loaded in sugar. Berries also make an excellent dessert replacement.
CLAIM: Eating bread daily can cause weight gain
TRUTH: "Wrong. An excess amount of high carbohydrate foods can cause weight gain, however our brains need carbs to function — they are our body's main energy source," Maureaye says. But this doesn't mean every type of bread is the healthiest. Choose breads that are high fibre like whole grain, rye or oat bread.
CLAIM: Having cheese daily is a good source of calcium
TRUTH: "True and false. Although cheese is a great source of calcium and protein, fatty cheeses are high in saturated fats which can lead to increased cholesterol levels," she explains. So if you love cheese and want to consume it daily, choose partially skimmed or low fat cheese and limit it to one ounce per day.
CLAIM: Milk can cause weight gain
TRUTH: Again, not true. Maureaye says milk is an excellent source of calcium, vitamin D and protein. However, two per cent milk or homogenized milk is high in saturated fats which can increase cholesterol levels. "As long you don't have any lactose intolerance, choose one per cent or skim milk and have at least one cup daily," she says.
CLAIM: We need meat at each meal for our protein needs
TRUTH: "Wrong. Meat is a good source of protein, however, these days people eat more meat and get more protein then need," Maureaye says. Excess protein is stored as fat in the body. Maureaye adds people should eat at least two to three servings of meat or alternatives daily and try to choose low-fat meats, including skinless chicken breast, fish and turkey. "I encourage including meat alternatives such as tofu or legumes one or two times a week, as they contain little or no saturated fats and are high in protein."
CLAIM: Is an excellent healthy oil
TRUTH: "True. Olive oil is a good source of omega-9 fatty acids, which can help lower LDL blood cholesterol [the bad kind] and raise good HDL cholesterol instead," she says. Using olive oil may also have a protective effect against colon cancer. "It is still a source of high fat and it's recommended to limit it to one to two tablespoons daily." Maureaye says.
CLAIM: Tofu is too high in fat
TRUTH: "Tofu is a highly nutritious, protein-rich, delicious food that is made from the curds of soybean milk," Maureaye says. Tofu also has iron and calcium, and some sources contain omega-3 fatty acids. Tofu is also an excellent meat alternative and can be eaten on a daily basis without any side effects, she adds.