The editor-in-chief of Men’s Health, David Zinzcenko (author of Eat This, Not That), recently wrote about the 15 biggest nutrition myths for an article in Yahoo! Health. In it, he busts a couple of urban myths that we hope are soon (but suspect never will be) put to rest:
MYTH #1: High fructose corn syrup is worse than table sugar.
Here’s what Mr. Zinzcenko had to say: “Both HFCS and table sugar, or sucrose, are built with roughly a 50-50 blend of two sugars, fructose, and glucose. That means in all likelihood that your body can’t tell one from the other—they’re both just sugar . . . HFCS’s role as nutritional enemy #1 has been exaggerated.”
MYTH #14: Organic is always better
Writes Mr. Zinzcenko: “Organic produce is almost nutritionally identical to its conventional counterpart. The issue is pesticide exposure—pesticides have been linked to an increased risk of obesity in some studies. But many conventionally grown fruits and vegetables are very low in pesticides.”
MYTH #15: Meat is bad for you.
“Pork, beef, and lamb are among the world’s best sources of complete protein, and a Danish study found that dieting with 25 percent of calories from protein can help you lose twice as much weight as dieting with 12 percent protein. Then there’s vitamin B12, which is prevalent only in animal-based foods. B12 is essential to your body’s ability to decode DNA and build red blood cells, and British researchers found that adequate intakes protect against age-related brain shrinkage. Now, if you’re worried that meat will increase your risk for heart disease, don’t be. A Harvard review last year looked at 20 studies and found that meat’s link to heart disease exists only with processed meats like bacon, sausage, and deli cuts. Unprocessed meats, those that hadn’t been smoked, cured, or chemically preserved, presented absolutely zero risk.”
We couldn’t have made those points any better. However, Mr. Zinzcenko needs to be pressed on the logic he presents in one of his myths. In principle, Myth #7 (Foods labeled “natural” are healthier), is spot on—those ‘natural’ labels are more about marketing than nutrition. But in attacking the myth, he points out that “7UP boasts that it’s made with ‘100% Natural Flavors’ when, in fact, the soda is sweetened with a decidedly un-natural dose of high fructose corn syrup. ‘Corn’ is natural, but ‘high fructose corn syrup’ is produced using a centrifuge and a series of chemical reactions.”
Hold on. Didn’t he just get done saying HFCS isn’t necessarily a bad thing?
His characterization of the making of HFCS also needs to be taken in context. HFCS is made by soaking corn in water to loosen the starch from the protein, separated in a centrifuge (as he correctly points out) and treated with enzymes. If that sounds too “processed,” think about cheese. Cheese is ‘separated’ from an animal when it is milked, and then treated with enzymes to get the desired flavor and consistency. That’s why parmesan is different from brie. Bread is another example of something that can be made to sound overly processed: it’s made with yeast, which is (are?) eukaryotic micro-organisms. Kind of gives grandma’s homemade bread an ick factor, when put that way.
And as compared to “natural” cane sugar? Cane sugar has to be milled, liquefied, treated with lime, boiled and also spun in a centrifuge before it’s useable. Turning it into table or powdered sugar requires even more processing.
I’d give Mr. Zinczenko a 9.5 out of 10 for his article. He started and finished strong, but a little extra twist in the middle cost him a perfect score.
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