Nutrition News: The Truth About Pretzels, Mindless Diet Busters and Activated Charcoal Is a Trend

Find out why you should skip the pretzels and how you may be mindlessly messing up your diet. And what’s the deal with activated charcoal?



Photo by: crspix


Take a Pass on Pretzels

Pretzels may be better than some fatty chips, but four out of five nutrition experts surveyed by Time say if you’re trying to eat healthy, pretzels shouldn’t be your go-to snack. Although pretzels are low-fat, they are also pretty paltry on the protein and fiber front, and they can be quite high in sodium and carbs. What’s more, they rank high on the glycemic index, meaning they can quickly spike blood sugar levels. “Pretzels are a snack food made from enriched flour, which provides very little fiber and overall very little nutritional benefit,” registered dietitian Kate Patton told the magazine. Patton recommends that those in search of a healthier alternative choose nuts, seeds, roasted edamame or popcorn.

Mindless Ways to Mess up Your Diet

You’re trying to lose weight, but the scale refuses to budge. Are you mindlessly sabotaging your diet? U.S. News has compiled a list of eight food choices you may not be aware you’re making that may be holding you back. The habits include keeping your food out on the counter or in clear plastic containers where you’ll see it (and reach for it), finishing the food your kids leave on their plates, leaving a candy jar on your desk, snacking in front of the TV, using oversize dinner plates (making portions look smaller), storing sweet drinks (rather than a nice, cool pitcher of water) at eye level, and eating right from the package. Yes, the calories count even if the food never hits a dish.

Trend Watch: Activated Charcoal

Health-food entrepreneurs are putting activated charcoal (i.e., charcoal that has been heated to better enable it to trap chemicals) in everything from juice and lemonade to cookies and crackers, marketing the ingredient as a detoxifier, and even promoting it as a breath freshener in dog biscuits. Activated charcoal has long been used as a poison antidote, but will it actually clear skin, whiten teeth and ameliorate digestive issues, as some labels promise? Some experts suggest activated charcoal may have its uses, but they caution against considering it a cure-all and say it can also prove dangerous to some people, especially those on medication. Activated charcoal may rid the body of vital vitamins and minerals, as well as some drugs, along with toxins. “The problem is that it isn’t selective,” New York dietitian Jessica Marcus told The Wall Street Journal. “It sweeps the good with the bad.”

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. In addition to contributing to Healthy Eats, she blogs for Food Network’s FN Dish .

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