8 Falsehood Nutrition and Diet Myths
Find out how these myths have been misunderstood.
1. Sugar leads Diabetes
The most common nutrition myth is probably that sugar leads diabetes. If you have diabetes, you do need to eat less sugar and carbohydrate, under your doctor’s help, to balance your blood sugar level. However, if you do not have diabetes, sugar intake will not cause you to develop the disease. The main risk factors for Type 2 diabetes are a diet high in calories, being overweight, and an inactive lifestyle.
2. Brown Sugar is better for you than White Sugar
The brown sugar sold at grocery stores is made of white granulated sugar with added molasses. Yes, brown sugar contains minute amounts of minerals. But unless you eat a gigantic portion of brown sugar every day, the mineral content difference between brown sugar and white sugar is absolutely insignificant. The idea that brown is healthier than white sugar is another common nutrition myth.
3. White Eggs are less nutritious than Brown Eggs
Contrary to a widely believed nutrition myth, eggshell color has nothing to do with the quality, flavor, nutritive value, cooking characteristics, or shell thickness of an egg. The eggshell color only depends upon the breed of the hen.
According to the Egg Nutrition Council, "white shelled eggs are produced by hens with white feathers and white ear lobes and brown shelled eggs are produced by hens with red feathers and red ear lobes. There is no difference in taste or nutrition content between white and brown colored eggs".
4. Any Fat is bad for health
It's a long-held nutrition myth that all fats are bad. But the truth is, we all need fat. Fats aid nutrient absorption and nerve transmission, and they help to maintain cell membrane integrity - to name just a few of their useful purposes. However, when consumed in excessive amounts, fats contribute to weight gain, heart disease and certain types of cancers.
Not all fats are created equal. Some fats can actually help promote good health, while others increase the risk for heart disease. The key is to replace bad fats (saturated fats and trans fats) with good fats (monounsaturated fats and polyunsaturated fats).
5. No seafood as higher blood cholesterol
In fact, the dietary cholesterol found in seafood and other meats has little effect on blood cholesterol in most people. Saturated fats and trans fatty acids are the most important factors that raise blood cholesterol.
Saturated fats are often found in packaged foods and meat products, trans fatty acids are found in packaged snack foods, deep-fried foods or firm margarine containing hydrogenated oil.
6. No nuts because they are fattening
Yes, it's true that nuts are very calorically dense. Fifteen cashews, for instance, deliver 180 kilo calories! On top of that, it is very tough not to overeat these delicious snacks. But if you can prevent yourself from overeating them, nuts can be a part of a healthy diet.
It's a nutrition myth that nuts should be avoided. In fact, nuts are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that are both good fats, as well as plant sterols, all of which have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol.
In 2003, the FDA approved a health claim for seven kinds of nuts stating that "scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces (45 grams) per day of most nuts as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease." Instead of simply adding nuts to your diet, the best approach is to eat them in replacement of foods high in saturated fats.
7. No carbohydrate for losing weight
The key message that many low-carb diets convey is that carbohydrates promote insulin production, which in turn results in weight gain. Therefore by reducing carbohydrate intake, you can lose weight. Unfortunately, this is just another nutrition myth.
Many low-carb diets actually do not provide sufficient carbohydrates to your body for daily maintenance. Therefore your body will begin to burn stored carbohydrates (glycogen) for energy. When your body starts burning glycogen, water is released. Therefore the drastic initial drop of weight at the beginning of a low-carb diet is mostly the water that you lose as a result of burning glycogen.
The truth is that low-carb diets are also often calorie-restricted! Followers only eat an average of 1000 - 1400 calories daily, compared to an average intake of 1800 - 2200 calories for most people. To lose one pound a week, you only need to reduce 500 calories per day in your normal diet. Therefore, it doesn't matter if you eat a high- or low-carb diet, you will lose weight if you decrease your caloric intake to less than needed to maintain your weight.
8. Red meat threatens health
It is true that some studies have linked red meat with increased risk of heart disease, partly due to the saturated fat content. In fact, even chicken can contain as much saturated fat as lean cuts of beef or pork. For example, a serving of sirloin beef or pork tenderloin has less saturated fats than the same serving size of chicken thigh with skin. It is true that poultry like chicken and turkey is naturally lower in saturated fats. But it is only true IF you do not eat the skin.
It is a nutrition myth, however, that red meat is altogether bad for your health. Instead of excluding red meats, choose leaner cuts of beef and pork. For beef, choose eye of round, top round roast, top sirloin and flank; for pork, choose tenderloin and loin chops.