The standards of what is considered healthy to eat or how much seems like it changes constantly. As science and research progress, the recommendations do often change, but common perception is much less slow to adjust. There are many common notions of healthy eating out there, and some myths are actually true, though many are false.
How many eggs is it safe to eat each day? Do carrots really improve your night vision? Will eating before bed lead to weight gain? Does your microwave ruin your food? We discuss the latest research behind these myths on this episode with Ashley Kannenberg, RDN.
For many decades, cholesterol was viewed as unhealthy, and because egg yolks were high in cholesterol, eggs were also viewed as unhealthy. A trend of egg whites only and a limit of 1-2 eggs daily became widespread, and now today many people still avoid more than 2 eggs. Now we know that even though a food is high in cholesterol, it does not necessarily affect the cholesterol level in the blood. Cholesterol is very important for healthy cells, and consuming larger amounts of high-cholesterol foods simply causes your liver to compensate by producing less itself.
Research finds that 1-2 eggs per day does not significantly change cholesterol levels in the blood, or increase heart disease risk factors. The levels of LDL ("bad") cholesterol usually stays the same or only increases slightly, whereas the HDL ("good") cholesterol levels increases, more than enough to offset any negative effects from LDL levels.
Moderation is key, but eating up to 3 eggs per day is not unreasonable, and the yolk is a great source of nutrients. Eating whole eggs helps to keep you full, promote weight loss, protect brain health, reduce eye disease risk, and reduce inflammation.
Research has not shown any link between eating carrots and improved night vision. However, carrots do contain many compounds that are good for eye health, and help to maintain night vision as it is. Carrots are a good source of Vitamin A in particular, which helps prevent damage from free radicals that can lead to cellular damage, aging, and chronic illnesses, including eye diseases when they become too prevalent.
However, eating too much Vitamin A, having high levels over an extended period of time, can lead to yellowish orange skin, bone pain, nausea an diarrhea. Always consult your provider or a dietition when noticing your skin changing colors.
Having a snack or eating before laying down does not necessarily lead to weight gain. There is no research suggesting that digestion is less effective while laying down, and often it is actually better for people with diabetes to eat a snack before bed. The bigger problem is related to lifestyle.
For someone who snacks before bed every night, and eats unhealthy snacks, or is generally unactive, then eating before bed can contribute to weight gain. There can be confusion between hunger and tiredness, and eating while watching TV, playing videos, or scrolling the internet, can distract your brain and lead you to eat more than intended or needed.
Whether weight is gained from eating before bed is much more based on your activity throughout the day and normal routine.
All forms of cooking have benefits, and even boiling food can remove certain nutrients. However, the microwave does not always remove nutrients. Done properly, it is a perfectly safe, healthy way to heat food while preserving all or almost all of the nutrients. Microwaves do not add anything unhealthy to your food, and doing anything you can to help heat the food evenly will help preserve the nutrients, flavor, and quality.
Ashley Kannenberg, RDN provides Nutritional Counseling at Perry Memorial Hospital