Learn about healthy eating with these nutritional facts and myths

Myth: Eating at Night Causes Weight Gain

Fact: The answer is complex because it depends on your personal eating habits. In theory, as long as you don’t exceed your daily caloric intake (no matter when you eat), you shouldn’t gain weight. However, nighttime eating tends to be more complicated.

Most people have found themselves getting the munchies after dinner or before bedtime, often from boredom or certain cravings. If this snacking is mindless, you may not be conscious of the calories you’re ingesting. In addition, if you give into the mindless snacking, you may still feel full the next morning and not want breakfast, which can throw off your daily eating habits and cause weight gain.

There is nothing wrong with eating at night, as long as you’re conscious and aware of what you’re consuming. If you’re usually hungry before you go to bed, reach for fruits and vegetables instead of junk foods.  When you choose foods with lower levels of sugar, you keep your blood sugar from spiking when you’re trying to sleep.

Myth: Kale is the Healthiest Green

Fact: The Center for Disease Control recently released a list of fruits and vegetables ranked by nutrient density, which refers to the number of daily nutrients packed into a vegetable calorie. Most would expect kale to top the list, but it ranked 15 after greens like watercress, chard, and spinach. So, is kale the super-food you believed?

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Answer: Yes, it is! Kale contains an abundance of nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin C, vitamin B6, manganese, calcium, and folate. Watercress may only have 4 calories per cup to kale’s 33 calories per cup, but you would have to eat much more watercress to even come close to receiving the same amount of nutrients that you get from kale. Its nutrient-rich leaves contain vitamins known to lower cancer risk and cholesterol, so the calories are well-spent.

Be sure to continue drinking your kale smoothies because it won’t be leaving the superfood excellence list anytime soon.

Myth: Multi-Grain Breads are Healthier Than White Breads

Fact: Multi-grain breads may sound healthy because you more than likely have been taught to look for “multi-grain” labels, but multi-grain breads aren’t as healthy as you may think. Food companies use various refined grains to create some multi-grain breads, filtering out key nutrients in the process, which is what happens during the manufacturing of white breads.

The term to look for when you are reading the labels is “whole wheat.” Whole wheat contains the nutrient-rich bran and germ that reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes. So unless the multi-grain brand is made with whole wheat, it is no better than white bread. Be sure to look for labels that read “100 percent whole wheat” to make sure you’re buying the healthiest option.

Myth: Diet Soda is Better Than Regular Soda

Fact: It’s true that diet soda contains fewer calories than regular soda, and at first glance, diet soda seems like a good alternative if you’re managing your weight and dental hygiene. However, there are many more hidden and harmful ingredients in diet soda than one may think.

Diet soda’s artificial sweetener, a supplement for sugar, wreaks havoc on your body and teeth. It makes your body crave more sugar (since what you’re ingesting aren’t real ingredients), so you actually end up consuming more calories. Studies have shown that there’s a positive correlation between weight gain and diet soda. If that isn’t bad enough, those who drink diet soda are also more likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Guess what? Regular soda isn’t any better. If you consume regular soda regularly and over long periods of time, you have 20 percent more chance of having a heart attack and are also more likely to develop asthma, osteoporosis, and tooth cavities.

It’s difficult to say whether diet or regular soda is better for your health. It’s best to just avoid both.

To learn more about healthier options, visit UPMC’s page on healthy food choices.

About UPMC

Headquartered in Pittsburgh, UPMC is a world-renowned health care provider and insurer. We operate 40 hospitals and 800 doctors’ offices and outpatient centers, with locations throughout Pennsylvania, Maryland, New York, West Virginia, and internationally. We employ 4,900 physicians, and we are leaders in clinical care, groundbreaking research, and treatment breakthroughs. U.S. News & World Report consistently ranks UPMC Presbyterian Shadyside as one of the nation’s best hospitals in many specialties and ranks UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh on its Honor Roll of America’s Best Children’s Hospitals. We are dedicated to providing Life Changing Medicine to our communities.