Mastering the Myths

By Heather Irwin, MS, RD, LDN

Don’t let these falsehoods keep you from getting enough fruits and vegetables on your plate!

MYTH #1: ORGANIC COSTS MORE, SO IT MUST BE BETTER FOR ME

To be considered “organic,” an agricultural product must be grown or raised according to specifications of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Organic products cost more because of the increased cost of complying with USDA standards and a decreased yield per acre. Studies have not shown nutrition-related health effects from consuming organically produced foods.

MYTH #2: JUICE DOESN’T COUNT AS A SERVING OF FRUIT

One serving of 100 percent juice (4 ounces) can replace one fruit serving. However, juice isn’t as filling or nutritious as whole fruit and may add excess calories. Stick to a small glass of 100 percent juice with no added sugars. Combine juice and water to make it go further.

MYTH #3: FRESH PRODUCE IS HEALTHIER

Fresh, dried, canned and frozen fruits and vegetables are all good choices. They’re nutritionally comparable in most cases. Frozen fruits and vegetables are typically picked at the peak of ripeness and flash-frozen to preserve optimal nutrition. They last for several months in the freezer and can be an economical choice. Choose products without sauces or seasonings that may contain excess salt, added sugars and calories.

Canned fruits and veggies are convenient to have in your pantry when you can’t get to the store; they can even be kept at work (with a can opener) for an afternoon snack. Since they’re nonperishable, you won’t waste money – which sometimes happens with fresh produce that goes bad. Compare food labels and choose items with the lowest amounts of sodium, added sugars and saturated fat. Drain and rinse canned veggies to get rid of some of the sodium. Choose fruit canned in water, natural fruit juice or light syrup (drain and rinse).

MYTH #4: WHITE-COLORED FOODS AREN’T HEALTHY

White fruits and vegetables, such as banana, cauliflower, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, mushroom, onion, potato and parsnip, provide many of the same nutrients as their more colorful cousins. You can enjoy a variety of colored fruits and vegetables in a balanced diet. Bananas and potatoes can provide potassium, an important nutrient that lessens the impact of sodium in the diet and is typically not eaten in high enough quantities by Americans.

Heather Irwin, MS, RD, LDN
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