Dakota State University -- NDSU Agriculture
7 Morrill Hall, Fargo ND, 58105-5655, Tel: 701-231-7881, Fax: 701-231-7044
Prairie Fare: Sorting through the Hype
By Julie Garden-Robinson, Food and Nutrition Specialist
If youíve read popular magazines, surfed the Internet or watched an "infomercial" on TV lately, chances are youíve seen some enticing health-related advertisements. According to the claims itís fairly effortless to improve your health or appearance. You can "melt fat" while you sleep and wake up slim and trim. You can reshape your body in less than five minutes a day. You can have wrinkle-free skin if you take XYZ dietary supplement.
Look closely. Most of these ads feature genetically blessed models
As I perused a magazine, one ad promising a 15-pound weight loss in three days caught my attention. I actually lost 20 pounds in two days myself. But I had a 9-pound baby boy to take home with me from the hospital.
Billions of dollars are spent each year on health-related books and products, and unfortunately, the products and information often lack merit. In addition to wasting your money, some of the advice can actually be harmful. Dietary supplements, for example, are not highly regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. The supplement manufacturers donít have to prove the products are effective or safe. Certain herbal supplements in particular have been shown to be harmful, or even deadly in some cases. Thatís why itís so important to keep your healthcare provider informed of any product you are taking. Some supplements interfere with medications.
How can you decipher fact from fiction? Hereís a checklist of questions to ask yourself before you open your pocketbook.
In this information age, where can you go for reliable information about nutrition and health? Government agencies, scientific organizations, professional organizations such as the American Dietetic Association, accredited food and nutrition departments at universities, extension service offices, nutrition units of healthcare centers and reliable industry groups are some sources of good information. Visit the NDSU Extension Service website: http://www.ag.ndsu.nodak.edu/food.htm for research-based information and links to more than 100 sites.
And what about the old adage: "an apple a dayÖ" ? Thereís really some merit to this one. Apples are a good source of pectin, a soluble fiber that, in combination with a low fat diet, has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. Try this tasty, nutritious and quick-to-make recipe. One Honey Baked Apple contains 220 calories and 4 grams of fat and counts as one fruit serving on your way to 5-a-Day.