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Health myths busted

Given the amount that is written about health these days, it’s natural to sometimes be bewildered. So here is an attempt to clear some common causes of confusion.

health and fitness Updated: Sep 26, 2009 19:28 IST
Shikha Sharma

Given the amount that is written about health these days, it’s natural to sometimes be bewildered. So here is an attempt to clear some common causes of confusion. Health myths busted

Good fat, bad fat: Most people associate fat with weight gain and other evils. This is not true. There are actually two kinds of fats. The good ones, which are made naturally, and the bad ones, which are badly processed. Good fats are responsible for fertility, good skin and hair, joint mobility and several health enhancing functions. Bad fats are the ones found in commercial food preparations, such as the transfats in biscuits, chips, etc, as well as the badly processed fats in fried food. You will find good fats in almonds and all nuts, such as walnuts, pistachios, kaaju, pine nuts, hazel nuts and so on, as well as coconut (but eat this in moderation). Seeds like flaxseeds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, etc, are also a good source of good fats. Ghee, olive oil and all cooking oils are neutral fats, and bad fats are transfats, re-fried oils, oils used in packaged foods with a long shelf life, lard and other animal fats.

The milk and calcium obsession: The theory that milk is a complete food and ‘the only source of calcium’ is incorrect. If cows (which are vegetarian) give us products that are the only source of calcium, where do cows get calcium from? Because calcium cannot be manufactured. Obviously, cows get it from plants. And plants get it from the earth. You can also get calcium from drinking calcium-rich water (that’s what mineral water is ideally supposed to contain).

Cholesterol and fat: Many people confuse the word cholesterol with fat. So if a label says ‘no cholesterol’, they assume the product has no oils and fat. This is incorrect. To set the record straight, plants have fatty acids which convert to liquid oils (in our language) and animals have solid fatty acids which are visible as solid fat or lard. When a label says ‘cholesterol free’ it means no animal fat has been used. However, the product could be swimming in plant oil. For instance, labels on packets of chips fried in plant oils can say ‘zero cholesterol’, but they could still butcher your heart’s health. But almonds and peanuts are not only zero cholesterol but also health friendly.

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