Nutrition ‘Misspeaks,’ Unpacked

Like many baby boomers, I love to “multi-task.”  (I put that in quotes because our brains really can’t do two things at once.)  But walking while listening to a webinar is something I do enjoy often.

Anyway, while on my walk this weekend I heard a speaker talk about five pillars of health, and enjoyed her approach and tips.  That is, until she got to kale, and her comment about kale having more calcium than milk.

Ugh, not true…

That got me thinking about other “myths” I’ve heard about nutrition and fitness, and thus the spark for today’s blog!

1)  Kale and calcium

I have heard more than once that ‘greens’ are a good source of calcium.  So let’s unpack that statement.

First, one cup of raw kale, chopped, has about 60 –  90 mg. of calcium, depending on the website.  Ladies, you need between 1,000 – 1,200 mg/day.  One cup cooked kale has 177 mg. Compare those amounts to one cup cow’s milk at 300 mg, and one cup almond milk, 450 mg of calcium.

Second, in order for our bodies to absorb and utilize calcium, we must have vitamin D. Both cow’s milk and plant milks are fortified with vitamin D. Kale contains 0 mg vitamin D.

And please don’t get your greens confused.  Spinach, also part of the “greens” family, contains oxalic acid, which binds to calcium and makes it unabsorbable and therefore, not used.

Note, kale is a food that contributes a plethora of fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemical to our diets, but is bordering on that “super food” designation in my opinion due to the calcium conundrum.

2)  Broccoli and protein

  • Being a 90% vegan, I’m always looking for non-meat sources of protein.  Many of my vegetarian friends have recommended I fill this need with broccoli—not my go-to veggie, but I can eat it once a week.  So how does broccoli fare in the protein department?

One cup broccoli has 2.6 g.  Adult women need about 46 g/day, women over 60 years old need slightly more.

Other non-meat protein amounts:

Soybeans have 14 g protein/half cup

Lentils, 9 g/half cup

Edamame and split peas, 8 g/half cup

Like kale, broccoli is a fabulous addition to our diets.   It also contributes a plethora of fiber, minerals, vitamins, and phytochemicals, and is beneficial to our guts.

3)  Don’t exercise after eating

  • The classic advice I grew up with was “never swim after eating, you’ll drown!”  This spilled into all forms of exercise, with the thought being your blood goes to your digestive system after eating, and is not available for exercising muscles.  As it turns out, one of the worst things you can do is to be sedentary after eating.
  • Metabolically, movement shunts fats and glucose (blood sugar) out of the bloodstream.  In particular, glucose goes to working muscles, lowering blood sugar levels after meals and helping control prediabetes and diabetes.  Post-meal movement is a valuable strategy many diabetics have in their tool belt for managing the disease.  And you won’t drown!

Seems our “bodies” are able to multitask better than our brains!

4)  Calories are calories

  • In the past, I can remember people counting calories, and as long as they got under 1,200, or 1,500 per day, whatever the goal was; it didn’t matter what those calories looked like in terms of nutritional value. 
  • Not so any longer.  We know that the quality of your food is critically important, especially if you’re trying to lose weight.  In particular, eating enough protein is vital (to support muscle retention during weight loss), as is eating whole, real foods compared to more processed ones. 

And as we age, we require fewer calories, and need to be mindful of the healthfulness of each mouthful we consume.

5)  It doesn’t matter when you eat

  • While the science isn’t completely settled on this one, most health practitioners agree that it’s best to eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch, and a pauper at dinner.
  • And that pauper’s meal performs better if not consumed late at night.

While much research is going on about approaches like intermittent fasting (limiting days or hours of food consumption), the best advice currently is to consume a lighter dinner, which something most of us don’t do, but could definitely explore.

There you have it, I’ll get down from my soapbox!

To get clarity on your nutrition and fitness approaches, reach out to me

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to Top