Is protein harmful to your kidneys?
By Pure Matters
Nutrition misinformation leads to a lot of confusion and frustration. Just when we think we're "eating right," all the hot news seems to tell us we're wrong. Thankfully, you're about to be enlightened by science. Foolproof your diet with this nutrition-myth-busting guide.
Myth #1: High protein intake is harmful to your kidneys.
The origin: Back in 1983, researchers first discovered that eating more protein increases your glomerular filtration rate, or GFR. Think of GFR as the amount of blood your kidneys are filtering per minute. From this finding, many scientists made the leap that a higher GFR places your kidneys under greater stress.
What science really shows: Nearly two decades ago, Dutch researchers found that while a protein-rich meal did boost GFR, it didn't have an adverse effect on overall kidney function. In fact, there's zero published research showing that downing hefty amounts of protein -- specifically, up to 1.27 grams per pound of body weight a day -- damages healthy kidneys.
The bottom line: As a rule of thumb, shoot to eat your target body weight in grams of protein daily. For example, if you are 200 pounds and want to be 180, than have 180 grams of protein a day.
Myth #2: Blueberries are better for you than bananas.
The origin: Studies show that, per cup, blueberries have among the highest antioxidant content of almost any fruit.
What science really shows: They're both good for you, in different ways. For example, per calorie, bananas have about four times as much potassium and magnesium as blueberries have. So it's not as simple as one food being superior. In fact, it's likely that variety is best. Colorado State University scientists found that people who consume the widest array of fruits and vegetables experience more health benefits than those who eat just as much produce from among a smaller assortment.
The bottom line: Produce is good for you. Aim for a mix of the kinds you like best.
Myth #3: Red meat causes cancer.
The origin: In a 1986 study, Japanese researchers discovered cancer developing in rats that were fed heterocyclic amines, compounds that are generated from overcooking meat via high heat. Since then, some studies of large populations have suggested a potential link between meat and cancer.
What science really shows: No study has ever found a direct cause-and-effect relationship between red meat consumption and cancer. As for the population studies, they're far from conclusive. They rely on broad surveys of people's eating habits and health afflictions, and the resulting numbers are crunched to find trends, not causes.
The bottom line: Meat lovers who are worried don't need to avoid burgers and steak. Just trim off the burned or overcooked sections of the meat.
Myth #4: High-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is more fattening than regular sugar.
The origin: In 2002, University of California at Davis researchers published a well-publicized paper noting that Americans' increasing consumption of fructose paralleled our skyrocketing rates of obesity.
What science really shows: Both HFCS and sucrose -- better known as table sugar -- contain similar amounts of fructose. Both will cause weight gain when consumed in excess.
The bottom line: HFCS and regular sugar are empty-calorie carbs that should be consumed in limited amounts. How? By keeping soft drinks, sweetened fruit juices, and prepackaged desserts to a minimum. (Hey, that's entire sections you can cut out of grocery store trips!)
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