Determining “Good” Foods vs. “Bad” Foods

By November 13, 2013Featured, MSG
magic 8 ball

Is a Magic 8 Ball More Reliable than Some Internet Sources?

As children, my friends and I loved playing with a Magic 8 Ball. (For those not familiar, it is a Mattel-made toy used for “fortune-telling” or seeking the truth or advice. Kind of like an Ouija board, but it did not “freak” us out! The Magic 8 Ball was fun and entertaining when we got together at birthday parties or sleep-overs.)

Was it accurate in telling the truth? Pshaw! I think not – now that I know better. Given that we are well into the 21st century, consumers often turn to the Internet as a means of learning the truth about a range of topics, and like the popular toy of my childhood, information that can be found online is often just as inaccurate or misleading.

In particular, let’s stick with my areas of expertise and take a look at what information is “out there” about good foods and bad foods. It is incumbent on consumers to evaluate what they are reading and determine whether to take the information at face value.

  • Are eggs bad for my heart?
  • Can carbohydrates like potatoes make you fat?
  • Can allergic reactions be triggered by monosodium glutamate (MSG)?
  • Will gluten-free foods help you lose weight?
  • Should dieters avoid nuts since they contain so much fat?

Although there may be contradictory information online about the examples I have listed, here are the truths as I see them, based on sound science.

Are eggs bad for my heart?

Poor maligned eggs. They have had more ups and downs than a yo-yo. However, according to the American Egg Board, “More than 40 years of research have shown that healthy adults can enjoy eggs without significantly impacting their risk of heart disease.” Eggs are an excellent source of protein, and for those who need to closely monitor their cholesterol intake, egg whites are protein packed and are cholesterol-free!

Can carbohydrates like potatoes make you fat?

Potatoes, which are a source of complex carbohydrates, contain a number of key nutrients such as potassium, fiber, vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus to name a few. Sweet potatoes also offer beta-carotene as a bonus. Potatoes can and should be incorporated into a balanced diet to provide energy and keep your hunger satisfied.

Can allergic reactions be triggered by monosodium glutamate (MSG)?

Extensive credible scientific research has found no association between consumption of MSG and allergic reactions.  “Monosodium glutamate ‘allergy’: menace or myth?,” Clinical & Experimental Allergy, May 2009, is a review paper that examined all of the available scientific literature relating to the possible role of monosodium glutamate in causing allergic reactions. The researchers concluded, “The current evidence does not suggest that MSG is a significant contributor to asthma, urticaria, angio-oedema or rhinitis.”  For more info on this topic, read this recent article entitled, “MSG – The Special Ingredient That Makes Food Addictively Tasty – Won’t Actually Hurt You.”

Will gluten-free foods help you lose weight?

No! Just because “gluten free” is a hot topic of discussion, gluten free foods still contain calories, and usually the same amount as their traditional counterparts that contain gluten. Gluten (a protein found in wheat, rye and barley) need not be avoided for individuals without celiac disease or a gluten sensitivity. If you have been diagnosed by a physician with either, be aware that “calories are calories” and over-consumption of a gluten-free food will not help you lose weight.

Should dieters avoid nuts since they contain so much fat?

No way! Although nuts do contain fat, it is the healthy types of fat – monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. They also are an excellent source of fiber, protein and minerals that can support heart health and keep you “full” longer. Like any other nutrient-rich food that is a concentrated source of calories, they can be incorporated into a healthy weight maintenance or weight-loss diet.

About Kaye Taylor, MS

Kaye is an author and consulting nutritionist with more than 15 years’ experience representing clients in the food industry, providing strategic leadership and consulting on meal planning, recipe development, consumer-focused educational materials relating to food and nutrition, science-based communications, and media relations. Read more about her background on the About page.

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