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here's nothing like nutrition
to cause a little confusion.
• Which is better to
eat, canola oil or olive
Canola, olive and peanut oils
(along with harder-to-find al-
mond, hazelnut and avocado oils)
all are classified as monounsatu-
rated fats, says Connie Bussard,
a freelance registered dietitian.
While canola is the least saturat-
ed of any fat (6 percent), it's still
a monounsaturated fat, equal in
calories to other fats.
"There seems to be some re-
search that if you use more mo-
nounsaturated fats, it keeps your
cholesterol lower," says Bussard.
`But the evidence isn't all that
clear that among the monoun-
saturateds, canola is best."
Polyunsaturated oils include corn,
soybean, sunflower, safflower and
cottonseed oils. Saturated fats are
those of animal origin, such as
butter, the fat in cream and milk
fat in poultry and meat.
The exception to the vegetable-
oil-is-better rule is tropical oils (co-
conut, palm and palm kernel oils).
While they are vegetable oils, they
are highly saturated, like animal
That's good for food manufac-
turers because saturated fats take
a long time to go rancid and stale,
but it's bad for consumers because
saturated fats in the diet boost
• Thin people can eat all
they want and not gain
That's simply not true, even
though it may appear to be so,
says Ms. Bussard.
"Skinny people have a natural
selection of lower-calorie food," she
adds. 'They eat only when they're
hungry, stop when they're full and
often leave food on their plates
and think nothing of it.
"They may or may not have a
higher metabolism, but even if
they do, it's only slightly higher."
In taking diet histories from the
spouses of thin people, Ms. Bus-
sard has found the internal cues
of when and what to eat seem to
be different in those who suc-
cessfully control their weight.
• Chicken is a smarter
choice than beef .
That depends on the breeding
of the animal, nutritionists say.
Chicken fried to a crunch or
smothered in gravy might be
higher in calories and fat than a
Some people think red meat is
not part of a healthy diet. The key
is to choose lean cuts and modest
• Taking vitamins and min-
erals gives you more energy.
"As a nutritive substance, vit-
amins and minerals are enablers,"
says Ms. Bussard. 'They help the
chemical process. It's the carbo-
hydrates, protein and fat that give
There's another aspect to tak-
ing vitamins, however.
"If people want to feel better,
sometimes that perceived effect
is enough to make a difference."
• The best way to lose
weight is to diet.
A diet, say Ms. Bussard, is a
way to lower calorie intake.
'The best way to keep weight
off is to make a lifestyle change.
A lifestyle change is one of those
things you have to keep working
"Finally you reach a point
where when you do different eat-
ing—slipping back into the old
habits—your system isn't used to
• Drinking a diet cola with
a chocolate chip cookie de-
feats the purpose.
On the contrary, Ms. Bussard
thinks switching from regular cola
to sugar-free might be wise if
you're a person who consumes a
lot of soda.
"You have to fit whatever you
eat into your overall daily intake,"
says Ms. Bussard. "It's the same
as eating fat-free pastry. It has a
place, but it isn't without calories."
For overweight people who
need to lose weight and keep it off,
fat-free pastries may be too tempt-
Myth or wisdom?
For people who have never had
a weight problem, but need to low-
er their fat because of cholesterol,
fat-free products might be the way
to do it.
Ms. Bussard looks at artificial
sweeteners the same way:
"There's a place for them, espe-
cially with diabetics, but they're
not an edge to losing weight.
Soda has surpassed coffee as
the national beverage choice.
"Switching to a diet beverage
may be a first step if you want to
manage your weight," says Ms.
• Oat bran is still the best
way to lower cholesterol.
While the world still talks
about oat bran, it's really soluble
fiber that lowers cholesterol. The
MYTHS page 52