Nutrition Myths and Truths

This episode covers three common nutrition myths. Listen to discover the answer to the following questions: What is the difference between a nutritionist and a dietitian (and does it matter)? Do butter and margarine have the same effect on your body? Does freezing vegetables change their nutrition content? The answers may surprise you!


Nutrition Myths and Truths – Podcast Transcript

Hi and welcome to Nutritionally Speaking.  I am your host, Michaela Ballmann. Today we will be talking about 3 nutrition myths and truths.


Nutrition Myth #1: Nutritionist is the same thing as a registered dietitian

The first, is that a nutritionist is the same thing as a registered dietitian—definitely/totally false!  A nutritionist can be anyone with or without an education in nutrition.  This person could work at a health food store and claim to be a nutritionist because they know something about vitamins, minerals and supplements, or they could even have a PhD in nutrition but not have a B.S. or an M.S. in nutrition.

On the other hand, a registered dietitian is someone who has completed a 4-year bachelors of science or B.S. degree in nutrition and dietetics or some related field.  They have had 3 internships—one in community like working with WIC or an outpatient clinic—seeing people outside of the hospital.  Next, they have an administrative rotation, where they’re in a managerial role in foodservice or over clinical dietitians.  And the third is a clinical rotation, where they are in a hospital providing medical nutrition therapy to patients.

So a dietitian has had a lot of experience in many of  the different areas that a dietitian can work.  They have taken 4 years of studies minimum, and before they can become a registered dietitian, they must pass a national exam that covers everything that they have learned during their schooling.

So, a nutritionist is not the same thing as a dietitian. I would recommend going to see a dietitian if you have questions about nutrition, health, eating, an other related topics.  A nutritionist does not necessarily have the educational background to provide you with the most current and accurate information.


Nutrition Myth #2: Butter is better than margarine

Onto myth #2.  Butter is better than margarine.  In most cases, false!  Butter is not necessarily a healthier choice.  Now some say that it is better because mother nature produces it—it is a natural source.  That may be, but it is a very good source of saturated fat.  Now we’ve all heard the recent talk about saturated fat—it’s the kind of fat that clogs your arteries, leading to atherosclerosis and heart disease. So we’ve been taught that we need to limit our intake of saturated fat.  But we’re used to eating butter—we put it on our toast, we cook with it, it’s part of our diet.  So, what are we supposed to do?

Margarine was produced in response to the cry for a healthy butter substitue.  The problem with margarine is that it was made out of trans fat.  Trans fat, we’re told is even worse than saturated fat.  So why am I telling you to eat margarine instead of butter?  Well you should look at some of the new margarines that are coming out.  For example, Smart Balance spread is made from vegetable oils such as olive oil and canola oil which have healthy omega three fatty acids, and do NOT contain trans fat.  They are NOT hydrogenated (either fully or partially).  So these margarines are actually better than butter because they act to reduce both your total cholesterol and your LDL cholesterol compared to butter.  This is because they contain phytosterols (also called plant sterols or stanols), which basically have the same chemical structure as cholesterol, so they compete with cholesterol for binding sites in your body.  That results in a reduced cholesterol level.

So if you look on the back of your margarine label and you see that your margarine is not hydrogenated and it says trans-fat free on the label, then go for the margarine over the butter!


Nutrition Myth #3: frozen foods have fewer nutrients than fresh foods

Myth #3—frozen foods have fewer nutrients than fresh foods.  Not true! If you look at the method for preparing these frozen foods, the freshest produce is being harvested, blanched, and frozen immediately.  So you are getting something that was picked at its prime and frozen, to stops all deteriorating processes, so when you get it, it still has the ultimate amount of vitamins and minerals, and nutrients—you’re getting a great product. Fresh foods on the other hand may not be so good b/c they might be picked early so they’re rock hard when they get to you or they’re bruised at the store.  They go through a lot of traveling and they might not have as much nutrients due to this.

So, frozen foods can be just as good as fresh ones.  The most important thing about fresh or frozen produce is to eat it!  Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables.  Eat reds and greens, blues and purples, and aim for 5-a-day.  If you’re eating more, that’s great!


Nutrition Myths and Truths Review

  • As a review, we learned today that a nutritionist is not the same thing as a dietitian—the registered dietitian is the way to go.
  • Second, trans-fat free margarine can be a much healthier choice than butter.
  • And third, frozen produce can have the same amount of nutrients or more than fresh–So just eat it!

Thanks for joining me today on Nutritionally Speaking.  See you next time!

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