Just the Facts Ma'am
December 9th, 2011 - By Lari Robling
Coffee's bad; now it's good. Limit eggs to one a week — no five is fine. Parsing out nutritional news can raise your blood pressure! Dr. Jennifer Nasser from Drexel University says it's easy to get overwhelmed, but there are ways to make the most of new information without driving yourself (too) crazy.
"They raise our cholesterol."
"The USDA this week said eggs are lower in cholesterol and higher in vitamin D than previously thought."
"Too much caffeine can make you hyper, and can also make you hallucinate."
"Your daily 'cup of joe' could actually help you reduce your risk of getting certain diseases."
We've all been there, listening to the news and wondering what to believe. It's enough to make you, well, think like this…
"The last thing I read the other day was that five eggs a week are O.K."
"Yes FIVE eggs? I've been cutting down to one. Wow!"
Wow, indeed! Makes me regret eating egg white omelettes for the past five years! "Don't pick and choose for general health and then you won't have the confusion," that's Dr. Jennifer Nasser, Assistant Professor of Nutrition at Drexel University. She studies the physiology of eating behavior. Rather than looking at individual causes or associations, she recommends following general guidelines for health such as the USDA's MY Plate diagram.
But what's a parent to do when they hear frightening reports of arsenic in apple juice. Nasser says you can choose to eliminate it, but a closer look may show there is also a problem in over-consumption. "Basically, the recommendation of how much arsenic you can have goes hand in hand with the recommendation of how little juice you should be drinking in a day." Cyanide does occur naturally in the seeds, and the apple itself can pick up toxic substances in the soil, so what are safe levels to ingest? The FDA is studying that, but Nasser says watering down the juice lowers sugar and calories as well as toxins.
And, she says, don't jump on every bandwagon, "before you get to interpret any study what you need is to know what illnesses you are at risk for. Genetic background, family history, is an indicator of illness risk." So, filter out studies that don't apply to your situation and if they do, check with your doctor about how seriously you should take it. And the studies that just make you scratch your head? "Oh, well that's always a joke. When you hear about something and you say yeah, that's going to published in The Journal of Irreproducible Results."