Nutrition is Not a True or False Proposition

Posted on 29 Jun 2010 20:18

I just came across a "nutrition quiz".

I got eight out of ten correct. Only eight? ME? You have got to be kidding me? I am a nutrition stud. Well, perhaps not exactly a nutrition stud but let's just say I do not get my nutrition information from steroid salesmen on bodybuilding forums.

One of the questions on the quiz involved brown rice. Go figure. I knew they wanted to hear that brown rice was healthier than white rice so that is what I answered but really I refuse to capitulate to the nonsense about brown rice being magical health pellets and white rice being evil little starch monsters.

More of the native nutrition of the grain is retained in brown rice, sure but it's the glycemic index and "insulin spike" that has 97 percent1 of bodybuilders thinking that white rice will blow you up like Harry Potter did his aunt. Which is all a bunch of baloney. White rice as part of a varied diet that consists of mixed food meals is quite fine. Remember it is the glycemic load as the meal as whole that counts, anyway. However, although glycemic load seems to have influence on various health parameters, it is not a very good fat loss tool. And the difference in nutrition in brown rice, again, as part of a varied diet, is just not that significant in the long haul. If you like white rice, eat white rice. Just don't eat TOO much whi…anything.

But here are the questions I got wrong.

What's the best food for improving eyesight?

  • Pomegranate
  • Collard greens
  • Carrots

Ok so you know how your mom told you that carrots will make you see better? Well no, they won't. Even though they contain cartenoids and especially beta carotene, they will not make you see better. The rub is, then, the word improve. I thought that they wanted me to say collard greens because of the whole leafy green thing and lutein. But lutein has not been "shown" to make you see better either. The hype on lutein has to do with slowing down age related macular degeneration. If "improve" means not to go blind as fast then I guess lutein does improve eyesight, if you believe the studies. But I don't think slowing down the loss of eyesight through age related degeneration is quite the same as improving eyesight, do you? So, out of shear stubbornness I said carrots. Because they still have just as much claim to "eye health" as leafy greens. Unlikely though, that any one food will save your eyes.

The next one I got wrong is the one that really got under my skin and motivated this post. It was a true/false question. True/False questions are pretty much worthless for nutrition and in this case, fat loss. Because there are very few "trues" and "untrues" which equate to black and white.

True or False: Eating bananas (the "Monkey Diet") is a great way to stay slim?

  • True
  • False

I said false. It is false. The "Monkey Diet" is NOT a great way to stay slim. I got it wrong though. Because according to the quiz makers bananas are not fattening. Of course bananas are not fattening. But in what universe does that mean that bananas are "slimming" and the Monkey Diet is a good way to stay slim or lose weight? Sure you could lose weight eating mostly bananas because you'd probably take in much fewer calories and that will result in a net loss especially at first. But it's a terrible diet and it's doomed to failure. Just because the statement "bananas are fattening" is false does not make the inverse true! C'mon.

overweight fat monkey in field

The Monkey Diet. Cuz monkeys don't get fat.
image by Chris May via flickr

overweight fat monkey in field

The Monkey Diet. Cuz monkeys don't get fat.
image by Chris May via flickr

Nutrition is not a true or false proposition. There are very few concrete answers. There are no "evil" foods. There are no superfoods. Every time someone takes a quiz such as this there is the potential for perpetuating the kind of myths the quiz hopes to discourage. Don't start thinking that entertainment is the same as research.

This page created 29 Jun 2010 20:18
Last updated 19 Mar 2018 17:32

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