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Separating Food Facts From Fiction

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Written by Marsha Feldt, RD, CDE, Annie Hoang, RD, CDE and Jill Zweig, RD, CDE, dietitians at Sunnybrook's Diabetic Education Centre program

It can be hard to get the facts when it comes to nutrition information. Here are some questions that people are often confused about:

Are nuts good for you?

Get the facts:
Nuts are packed with protein, fibre and essential fats. The type of fat in nuts is largely unsaturated fats. Nuts also provide some calcium, vitamin E, B vitamins, potassium, magnesium and are a source of antioxidants.

A small handful of nuts (30 grams) eaten each day may reduce your risk of developing heart disease and has been linked with lower body weight and lower risk of obesity. Use a handful of nuts as a substitute for unhealthy snack options such as muffins, cookies, chips and chocolate. A 30 gram serving is about the size of a golf ball.

Each type of nut contains its own unique nutrients, eat a variety.

Is honey better for you than sugar?

Get the facts:
Honey is another form of sugar. In fact, your body handles naturally occurring sugar in food, and processed sugars and syrups in the same way. While some people consider honey to be more natural, it is still a type of carbohydrate or sugar and a concentrated source of calories with very few other nutrients. Excess sugar in any form gives extra calories and raises your blood sugar.

Whether you choose to use honey, brown sugar, agave syrup or white sugar, the advice would be to use small amounts.

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Can drinking lemon water help with weight loss or detoxification?

Get the facts:
Lemon water is often promoted to help burn fat, lose weight, or detox, but there is no evidence to support that it works. Unfortunately, lemon water does not work to burn fat in the body. Adding lemon juice to your food or drink may add a refreshing light taste, but it will not reduce the fat absorption from your meal. There is also no evidence to show that it can significantly increase your metabolism to lose weight.

Lemon water also does not serve to detoxify the body. There are many complex systems already built into the human body to help with detoxification. The best way to keep your body's organs healthy is to limit the intake of alcohol, and processed high fat and sugary foods.

Overall, lemon water is a healthy beverage. It is free of sugars and calories, and works well to quench your thirst. Drinking lemon water to replace sugary beverages like soda, fruit juice, or sweetened caffeinated beverages would be a healthy change. So, if drinking lemon water helps you drink more water and stay hydrated, then by all means drink up!

Ask your healthcare provider for a referral to see a dietitian if you need help separating food facts from fiction in managing your health. Check out dietitians.ca for more reliable nutrition information.

Read more nutrition information from Sunnybrook experts at health.sunnybrook.ca

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