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You May Not Be Getting the Nutrients You Think You Are




Smart dieters often look at a product’s nutrition facts panel to understand how much nutritional value it contains. A label may tell you that a certain brand of cheese has eight grams of protein or, if you rely on tech, your MyFitnessPal may tell you that a cup of strawberries has 220mg of potassium.

By doing this, you’re probably under the assumption you are being a responsible dieter — and in many ways, you are. However, is what you’re seeing on the label what you actually consume when it comes to nutrients? Do they have the expected effect? Some researchers would say no, and have published their findings in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

According to a May 23, 2017, article published by the Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports at the University of Copenhagen, “The nutritional value of a food should be evaluated on the basis of the foodstuff as a whole, and not as an effect of the individual nutrients.” The conclusion, based on the opinion of an international expert panel of epidemiologists, physicians, food and nutrition scientists, “reshapes our understanding of the importance of nutrients and their interaction.”

“When we eat, we do not consume individual nutrients. We eat the whole food. Either alone or together with other foods in a meal. It therefore seems obvious that we should assess food products in context,” says Tanja Kongerslev Thorning, PhD. What does this mean? Well, although the nutrients on the label are valuable, it may more important to understand how they combine with other food we eat as well as how our bodies digest them to really decide how beneficial or detrimental certain foods are to us.

Researchers used cheese as an example. At face value, cheese has a relatively high content of saturated fat. However, researchers believe that cheese has a lesser effect on blood cholesterol than what you would expect with a food containing that much saturated fat. Another example researchers used were almonds. Almonds contain a high amount of fat, but release less fat than expected while digesting.

Studies and research like this shed light on the possibility that the foods we are eating could be healthier — or worse, less healthy than we originally thought — which could potentially shake up how we look at nutrition as a whole. What’s more, studies like this could lead to more personalized dietary recommendations from health care providers for overweight patients.

“More studies are needed, but ultimately it seems that some areas of nutrition science need to be rethought,” says Professor of Food Chain Nutrition Ian Givens at the University of Reading. “We cannot focus on a nutrient without looking at how it is consumed and what else is eaten at the same time.”


Source: University of Copenhagen, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports


Blog written by Marcus Miller/Robard Corporation

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