Dispelling nutrition myths, ranting, and occasionally, raving


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Another example of why nutrition advice should come from nutrition professionals

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A friend, and fellow dietitian, sent me the above screenshots. They were posted by a personal trainer. Of course it’s great to get people eating more vegetables and by no means do I want to discourage that. However, this is yet another example of why nutrition advice is best left to nutrition professionals.

Let’s start with the onions. High in fibre? It’s true, sort-of. Once cup of chopped onion contains a respectable 3 grams of fibre. Not exactly “high” but a “good source”. But… Who among us eats an entire cup of onion in a sitting? Certainly not I. At most, I would say I would have a couple of tablespoons. That brings the total fibre down to a whopping 0 grams. Oops. As for the other claims… Anyone telling you something is “great for fat loss” is probably full of it. No one food promotes fat loss. Following a healthy, adequate calorie diet, and healthy active lifestyle will promote fat loss (should you need to lose fat). Glutathione to reduce stress? Not according to WebMD. And just to be annoying, how on earth could eating onions reduce stress??? Will they ensure you don’t lose loved ones, keep your job, prevent moving? I think he must mean that they reduce the effect of stress on your body. Regardless, I’m pretty sure he’s mistaken. EWG did find pesticide residue on onions, however, they were ranked 50th (out of 51) so I’ll let him have that one; they are low in pesticides. Finally, onions do contain the prebiotic inulin. But, the onions aren’t what provide the benefits listed, the probiotics that use the prebiotics to grow are what provide the benefits. Both pre- and pro-biotics are needed to maintain a healthy digestive system.

As for the claim that grains don’t contain as much fibre as “you think” and therefore, you should consume the vegetables listed to obtain your fibre. Let’s compare: asparagus, cooked 1/2 cup = 2 grams of fibre, 1 cup of raw green pepper = 3 g fibre, 1 cup of raw broccoli = 2 g fibre, 1 cup of raw green cabbage = 2 g fibre, 1 cup of raw cauliflower = 3 g fibre, 1 cup of cucumber (with peel) raw = 0 grams of fibre, 1 cup of romaine lettuce = 0 g of fibre, 1 cup of raw mushrooms = 1 g fibre, 1 cup of raw spinach = 1 g fibre, 1 cup of raw zucchini = 0 grams of fibre. Now for the grains: 1 cup of steel-cut oats = 5 grams of fibre, one slice of multigrain bread = 2 g fibre, 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa = 2.5 g fibre, 1/2 cup of brown rice cooked = 2 g fibre, 3/4 cup of bran flakes = 5 g fibre…. I’d also like to mention that 1/2 cup of black beans contains 7.5 grams of fibre! As you can see, yes some of these vegetables contain fibre. However, grains also contain fibre, generally more than the vegetables. The moral here: include a variety of foods, including grains and vegetables, in your diet to meet all of your nutrient needs. Oh, and don’t take nutrition advice from those without a nutrition education.


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Can onions cure a cold or flu?

Ever heard someone say that leaving a cut onion in your room while you sleep will cure a cold or flu? This is something I heard nearly every fold/flu season. I’m not sure where people got this idea but that’s really not how viruses work.

We catch the cold or flu through contact with infected surfaces. The viruses aren’t floating around us in the air ready to be absorbed by a conveniently located onion. If you already have a cold or flu, it’s certainly not going to be absorbed from your body by an onion while you sleep.

Your best defense against cold and flu viruses is frequent hand washing. Regular exercise, but not excessive exercise, can help to boost your immune system. Eat a balanced diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables (eat those onions instead of leaving them lying around your house) and get at least 7 hours of sleep a night.


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Taking the bite out of raw onions

I’ve never been a big fan of raw onions. I just find their flavour overwhelms all of the other ingredients in a dish. I just learned last weekend, thank Mum and bro, how to muffle their bite.

Slice or chop your onions and then soak them in a bowl of cold water for a few minutes. Drain, pat dry, and add to salads or sandwiches.

If you’re a nerd like me then you’re probably wondering how this works. Basically, when you cut an onion it releases a sulfuric gas (this is also what makes us cry when we’re chopping onions). Sulfides are water soluble; therefore, when you soak them it will remove most of them.

Want to minimize the crying spell when cutting onions? Refrigerate your onions to strengthen their cell structures and make less fluid available to react and create the sulfides. I’ve been doing this for years but never knew the science behind it. You can also try cutting your onions using a wet knife on a damp cutting board.

For more geeking out while cooking check out the cool looking cookbook: Cooking for Geeks.