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Video: The truth about nutritional myths

TODAY contributor
updated 6/15/2007 10:30:08 AM ET 2007-06-15T14:30:08

Will certain foods help you lose belly fat? Should you avoid dairy when you have a cold? TODAY nutritionist and diet editor Joy Bauer answers these questions and more as she addresses some common diet myths.

Bananas are fattening
False. One medium banana provides only 105 calories — you’d have to eat at least six bananas to equal one New York slice of pizza! Bananas are also a good source of fiber (3 grams), magnesium (32 mg), potassium (422 mg) and B6 (0.4 mg). And since foods low in sodium and rich in potassium and magnesium can help manage normal blood pressure — incorporating bananas into an overall healthy diet may reduce the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. What’s more, this nutrient packed, fat free fruit is a great source of vitamin B6, which helps boost your immune system and assists in the formation of red blood cells.

Enjoy them plain, sliced into cereal, mixed with non-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, tossed in a fruit salad to add a starchy consistency… or, peel the skin and freeze for a yummy low-calorie, frozen dessert.

Obviously, watch out for banana “chips”, which have added fat, sugar and are loaded with calories.

Avoid dairy when you have a cold because it increases mucus production
False. According to many reputable sources, there is no scientific basis for this belief. One of the more thorough investigations of the milk-mucus connection has been conducted by Australian researchers, and a review of their findings was published in the December 2005 Journal of the American College of Nutrition. In one of these studies, individuals reported the same amount of mucus production after drinking cow’s milk and a taste-alike soymilk that contained no dairy. In another study, subjects were inoculated with the common cold virus and told to record their dairy intake. After 10 days, the researchers tallied up the total amount of nasal secretions produced (don’t ask how!) and found that there was no link between dairy intake and mucus production or congestion.

Certain foods can help you lose belly fat
False. Contrary to what some diet books and articles preach, certain foods cannot magically melt away the fat off your belly (or any other part of your body). Where fat tends to settle is typically all in your genetics.

The good news is when you eat an appropriate amount of calories for weight loss (meaning less then you burn), you’ll eventually lose weight “all over” your body — including your personal problem areas (like your belly, if that’s where you have it). And if you add regular exercise while watching what you eat, you’ll burn even more calories and tone, tighten and strengthen the muscles underneath the fat, so when it comes off, you’ll look even leaner.


The more you sweat during exercise, the more weight you lose
False. While its true exercise helps you lose weight by burning more calories, in order to lose one pound of real fat weight during your workout, you’d need to burn 3,500 calories. Thus, heavy sweating only indicates how much “temporary” water weight you have lost. The fluid will quickly be replaced as you drink water to rehydrate your muscles and body.

For more information on healthy eating, check out Joy’s Web site at www.joybauernutrition.com.

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