The internet is full of nutrition “facts.” You know how it goes: one person reads one of these “facts,” shares it to their Facebook, and then suddenly your third cousin twice removed is mentioning it at the family Labor Day bash. It spreads, like a virus, despite the very little evidence to support its existence.
And no, sketchy “doctors” are not evidence. The truth is that many of the myths are at least rooted in fact, so if we look past what we’re led to believe, we can find the nugget of truth hidden inside.
Misinformation and exaggeration are a dangerous combination, and coupled with mass hysteria and the bandwagon effect? Things usually don’t pan out. Continue reading below to see if any familiar myths make the list.
1. Eggs are bad for you
It is true that eggs contain a decent amount of cholesterol in their yolks. And it’s also true that cholesterol isn’t great for your heart. But experts say that the ban on eggs is unnecessary: most healthy people can eat an egg a day without problems says Penny Kris-Etherton, Ph.D., R.D., professor of nutrition at Penn State University.
The problem lies in things like trans fats and saturated fats. Eggs contain very little saturated fats and zero trans fats. In fact, eggs are considered to be among the world’s healthiest foods!
2. A glass of red wine is the only way to go
According to University of Texas researchers, moderate wine drinkers may be slightly better off, but there are no better off than those who drink beer or hard liquor. Alcohol raises HDL, or the “good” cholesterol, so drinking a glass or two a day of any kind of alcohol is just as good as raising a glass of red wine.
3. Low-fat, high-carb diets with lots of grains are healthiest
This diet was recommended several decades ago—thirty years, to be exact—despite the lack of both evidence and studies to support it. Now, with a hefty amount of studies done, including the Women’s Health Initiative, the results are in: low-fat, high-carb diets have virtually no effect on the body or weight loss.
4. Restrict your sodium intake to help your heart
Salt is everywhere and is in everything. You’d be hard pressed to find something to consume that doesn’t have salt because it’s used by manufacturers and restaurants as a preservative. It’s in things like bread as well as in the obvious things such as potato chips. Experts recommend choosing foods with modest amounts of sodium and to choose
Experts recommend choosing foods with modest amounts of sodium and to choose breads that have less than 100mg per slice. While cutting back on salt will modestly help your cholesterol, unless you have a condition or a dietary restriction it isn’t necessary.
5. Eat multiple small meals a day to help your metabolism
Eating three bigger meals does the same as eating 5-6 smaller meals throughout the day. You don’t burn more calories the more meals you take, though more frequent meals may help those who hunger quickly. A new study showed that eating too often can lead to dangerous liver and belly fat accumulation.
6. Organic produce has more nutrients
A well-perpetuated myth, many consumers are under the assumption that organic = more nutrients when that is, in fact, not the case at all. Organic simply means that the product was grown without pesticides, and while it does help the environment it does not add any extra nutrients.
7. Red meat bad for you
As any dieter knows, the best thing to avoid is a greasy burger. Right? Myth. Red meat is one of the most nutritious things you can consume and comes loaded with things like iron, zinc, and selenium. It’s also rich in Creatine and Carnosine, which help muscle and brain function and which many non-meat eaters are deficient in.
8. Gluten-free is the way to be
Gluten-free is everywhere these days: you can find labels on the shelves of stores, and many boxes of cereal proudly proclaim to be gluten-free. But is gluten-free truly the way to go? The common misconception is that removing gluten from your diet will help you shed a few pounds, but this fact is fiction.
While beneficial for those with a gluten intolerance or those who suffer from celiac disease, consuming gluten-free foods doesn’t do much for your body.
9. Raw vegetables or bust
It’s been believed that a raw-food diet will help aid in digestion by producing enzymes essential to the process. While it is true that not cooking the food will keep vital nutrients that would otherwise be cooked out, it is not true that there are any nutrients that would benefit human consumption. These plant enzymes are vital only to the plant itself.
10. Choose brown eggs over white
If you fall under the category of accepting this as a health fact, you may be wasting that extra 20 cents that brown eggs cost. They may look more wholesome (hello, wheat bread), but they contain the same structure that white eggs do, just from a different breed of hen.
11. High-fructose corn syrup is worse than sugar
You’ll see many products labeled “no high-fructose corn syrup” when perusing the grocery store. The general assumption is that high-fructose corn syrup is worse for you than sugar, but according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a Washington, D.C.-based nutrition and health advocacy group, this is false.
High-fructose corn syrup was created to mimic sucrose, and carries only slightly more fructose than found in nature, despite its name. Instead, focus on limiting the amount of any kind of sugars per day: women should consume no more than 100 calories; men, 150.
12. Fried food? As if
A recent study of more than 40,000 Spanish adults showed that those who ate more fried foods were not necessarily at a greater risk for heart disease or premature death. And this study, done on obese women, showed a beneficial rise in insulin after the ingestion of fried foods.
So what is it that makes these studies show positive results? It may be all in the oil. These studies used sunflower and olive oils, which are much heart-healthier than things like canola oil.
13. Fruit will help you slim down
Fruit is high in vitamins and fiber, but also contain calories and sugar, even if it is the “good” kind of sugar. A single banana contains the same amount of calories (100) as two cookies. If you’re looking to include fruit in your plan to slim down, eating it with a protein, such as yogurt, can help slow down digestion and keep your blood sugar levels steady.
14. Carbohydrates will make you fat
The Atkins Diet is mostly to blame for this one. Published in 1971, Dr. Atkins publicly shamed carbohydrates, claiming them as one of the main sources of weight gain and basing his entire revolution around that claim. Years later, we’ve seen how the diet fails, and we’ve learned that it’s calories, period, and not carbohydrates that make you fat.
15. Calories eaten at night are worse for you
“Calories are calories, no matter when you eat them,” says John Foreyt, Ph.D. and the director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine. Your body burns calories no matter what you’re doing; however, it does burn them at a slower rate when you’re not moving. It’s mostly balancing out your calories throughout the day that counts, not just at night.