9 ‘Healthy’ Cooking Myths It’s Time to Let Go Of

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Written By Rivera Claudia

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Most adults, though, can safely eat between 1,500 and 2,300 milligrams per day, according to the American Heart Association. That equates to roughly one teaspoon of salt. While that might not seem like a lot, it’s rare that you’re getting more than a pinch or two of the stuff in most dishes. A recipe may call for a full teaspoon, but that’ll be divided among multiple servings. (Remember: The sodium content varies depending on the type of salt too. Finer table salt contains 2,300 mg per teaspoon compared to just 1,920 mg per teaspoon of coarse kosher salt.)

That said, you still shouldn’t go overboard on sodium, Lopez says—too much of it has been linked to high blood pressure and heart disease, she explains. So if your doctor has recommended sticking to a certain amount, heed that level; if not, don’t be afraid to add it here and there to your meals.

3. Fruit add-ins pack too much sugar.

Fruit adds a hint of refreshment and a dose of sweetness to a whole bunch of meals: oatmeal, cereals, salads, and desserts, for starters. Which unfortunately has led to some folks thinking, That’s too much sugar, which could raise blood sugar levels and the risk of diabetes.

While eating a whole lot of certain fruits may pose a problem for people who already have diabetes, the reality is that it doesn’t bring the same risk to those without the condition. In fact, according to a 2016 review in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation, eating more of the sweet stuff may actually reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes. “Along with natural sugar, fruit has vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, water, and fiber, all of which benefit our health,” Rhyan Geiger, RDN, owner of Phoenix Vegan Dietitian, tells SELF. That’s why guidelines recommend you eat one and half to two cups a day of it. So go ahead and mix it into your meals—most people aren’t hitting that guideline, so adding a little to your meals can help you reach that.

4. Processed convenience foods are nutritional voids.

Way too many people believe that turning to packaged ingredients—whether to make their prep quicker or just because they like the taste—means a less nutritious meal, and that whole foods are simply morally superior to the processed stuff, Cara Harbstreet, MS, RD, of Street Smart Nutrition, tells SELF. “It can also veer into ableism and food elitism, with the assumption that everyone is physically and financially able to cook all meals from scratch,” she explains.

The truth is that many store-bought foods are processed to some degree—whether for preservation, safety, or convenience—without sacrificing health benefits, Lopez says. In fact, “Certain processing methods, such as fortification, can enhance the nutritional value of foods by adding essential vitamins and minerals,” she adds. So if relying on quick-cooking packaged foods like microwavable rice packets, breakfast cereals fortified with calcium, or even frozen dinners helps you get what you need to feel satisfied without breaking the bank or eating into your schedule, you shouldn’t hesitate to do it.

5. It’s fresh veggies or bust.

Many people turn to fresh produce as the de facto best option when it comes to healthy cooking, but that’s not always the case, according to Lopez. Frozen or canned vegetables (which are technically processed) are just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts—and typically taste better than out-of-season fresh offerings because they’re harvested and preserved when they’re at their peak flavorwise. Think about the difference in taste between a tomato in the winter versus one in the summer—they’re basically two completely different things.


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