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TIME The Science of Nutrition

TIME The Science of Nutrition

TIME The Science of Nutrition

It is increasingly difficult to make the right decisions about our nutrition with so much conflicting information out there. What should we eat? High-fat diets, low-fat diets, high protein, low carb, Atkins, vegan, Paleo? What are the benefits and drawbacks of each? What about salt, eggs? Milk, red wine and coffee? Are they good for you or not? This special edition from TIME offers the latest research and insights including the truth about fat and sugar, foods that heal, whether you should go organic, and the leading food myths debunked.

United States
Meredith Corporation
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7 min.
the way we eat now

NOYES DARLING WAS DISSATISFIED. SPECIFICALLY, THE CONNECTICUT farmer was unhappy with his dark-yellow maize, which wasn’t ripe until July or later and turned starchy so quickly after being picked, he had to put water on to boil before heading out to the field. It was a common complaint among corn growers of the era—the early 19th century—and Darling set his sights on producing a sweeter, quicker-maturing variety. By the 1840s, he’d succeeded: the kernels of his new breed were pale, plump and, he bragged, rid of the “disadvantage of being yellow.” Within 50 years, Darling’s mutant white corn was the most popular eating variety in the country. What the farmer didn’t realize, says food activist Jo Robinson, the author of Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health,…

14 min.
don’t blame fat

THE TASTE OF MY CHILDHOOD WAS THE TASTE OF skim milk. We spread bright yellow margarine on dinner rolls, ate low-fat microwave oatmeal flavored with apples and cinnamon, put nonfat ranch on our salads. We were only doing what we were told. In 1977, the year before I was born, a Senate committee led by George McGovern published its landmark “Dietary Goals for the United States,” urging Americans to eat less high-fat red meat, eggs and dairy and replace them with more calories from fruits, vegetables and especially carbohydrates. By 1980 that wisdom had been codified. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued its first dietary guidelines, and one of the primary directives was to avoid cholesterol and fat of all sorts. The National Institutes of Health recommended that all Americans…

6 min.
protein anxiety

PROTEIN IS A STAPLE OF THE AMERICAN DIET AND for good reason: it’s a key building block for our cells. Our bodies take the protein we consume and break it down into amino acids that are necessary to build muscles, as well as to make bones and blood and fuel our energy needs. Not surprisingly, when it comes to diet trends, protein is king. Americans spend more than $3 billion a year on protein supplements such as shakes and powders, according to market- and consumerdata company Statista. We’re getting plenty from food too: the average consumer ate more than 200 pounds of red meat and poultry in 2018, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), surpassing a rec ord set in 2004. Yet research shows that many Americans eat more protein than…

4 min.
where’s the beef?

While excessive red-meat consumption has been linked to Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and cancer, today there are many other choices for consumers, from eating protein found in nuts, peas and beans to choosing plant-based meats from brands such as Impossible Burger and Beyond Meat. There is evidence that plant proteins may have the opposite effect of their meat counterparts, not only lowering rates of certain diseases but also prolonging lives, thanks to the fiber, healthy fats and micronutrients the plant proteins contain. What’s more, making the switch to plant proteins will also boost the health of the planet, according to the most recent report published by the World Economic Forum (WEF). If people all over the planet made one change—switching from beef to other sources of protein—global food-related greenhouse-gas emissions would…

12 min.
carbohydrates: not so simple after all

LIKE AN EASY MIDDLE CHILD, CARBOHYDRATES were once overlooked. Fats got most of the attention, fruits and vegetables the praise. That’s a bit surprising because carbohydrates make up half of the calories in the American diet and an even higher percentage in many diets around the world. Carbohydrates were thrust into the spotlight with the incredible popularity of the Atkins and South Beach diets in the early 2000s. Carbohydrates—bread, rice, pasta and the like—plummeted from being the “go-to” foods for healthy eating and weight loss to culinary creeps. The Paleo, Dukan and other carbbashing diets have kept the pressure on carbs. As happens with so many fads, the case against carbs began with a kernel of good science that has since been lost in hype and sweeping generalizations. That kernel of…

8 min.
the truth about sugar

IMAGINE MEASURING OUT NEARLY 20 TEASPOONS of pure granulated sugar and eating it, every 24 hours. Over the course of a month, you’d plow through an entire five-pound bag—and then some. The scary thing is that you don’t really have to imagine this scenario because you’re probably already living it. The average American adult devours almost 20 teaspoons of added sugar, defined as sweeteners added during food processing or preparation, every single day. And the average teenager downs even more. Worse, these 20 teaspoons don’t even include the naturally occurring sugar in fruit and dairy products. “Some sugar intake is fine,” says Richard Johnson, an internist and kidney specialist at the University of Colorado and the author of The Sugar Fix. “The problem is that everyone is getting too much of…