Nutrition News: Granola and Other 'Healthy' Food Myths Busted, Nutritionally Sound Grocery Savings

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Granola: Snack at Your Own Risk

Americans think of granola as healthy, but the granola we buy in stores or, often, make at home is usually so loaded with sugar we may as well be eating a piece of cake, a handful of cookies or a doughnut. In some cases, that cup of granola we eat for breakfast may actually contain more sugar than some of those dessert items, The New York Times notes, which explains why the U.S. government’s dietary guidelines categorize granola as a “grain-based dessert.”

Some nutritionists say you can manage a healthier workaround by buying unsweetened granola and preparing it without adding sugar, but others just advise avoiding it altogether.

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More Nutrition Myths, Busted

And while we’re on the subject of things we think of as healthy but aren’t, The Washington Post has helpfully debunked five commonly held dietary beliefs.

Myth No. 1: Natural sweeteners, like date sugar, agave or evaporated cane juice, are healthier than regular sugar. They aren’t — what matters is how much you eat.

No. 2: Sea salt is healthier than regular table salt. Nope. It’s the same sodium either way.

No. 3: Quinoa is ultra-high in protein. The truth is, it’s a “complete” protein, but it’s not super high in it, and quinoa also has lots of carbs, so it is best considered a grain.

No. 4: Processed meats cause cancer. Actually, they can increase the relative risk of it, so limiting consumption is a good idea.

No. 5: Detox diets remove toxins. These diets are probably unnecessary, as our bodies remove toxins naturally when we sweat, pee and poop. “So, a good workout (to sweat), some water (to pee) and a high-fiber diet (to poop) will cleanse you naturally,” registered dietitian Cara Rosenbloom notes in the Post article. “And of course, you’ll have less to ‘cleanse’ if you don’t drink too much alcohol, smoke or rely on a diet filled with processed foods.”

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Photo by: Steve Debenport ©Steve Debenport

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Healthy Ways to Save on Groceries

Also in the Post, nutrition educator Casey Seidenberg offers nine things families can do to save on their grocery bills without compromising healthfulness.

Her tips? Eat seasonally (when foods are in season they are less expensive); get organized (and plan ahead); adhere to a budget (spend consciously); really use those leftovers (and do it cleverly); be mindful with organics (let the Environmental Working Group’s Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen help you figure out when to splurge and when to save); reduce meat consumption (Meatless Mondays, anyone?); shop smart (take advantage of sales and store-brand savings); and reduce waste (teach your kids to serve themselves only what they can actually eat). Sound advice for sure.

Related Links:

15 Foods You Should Not Refrigerate

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What to Do With Produce That’s About to Go Bad

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Amy Reiter is a writer and editor based in New York. A regular contributor to The Los Angeles Times, she has also written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, Glamour, Marie Claire, The Daily Beast and Wine Spectator, among others, as well as for Salon, where she was a longtime editor and senior writer.

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