13 Diet Myths You Probably Believe

  • By Dr. Anand Thakkar
  • 16 Mar, 2016
Many people struggle to eat healthy foods. And when you add the mountains of fake nutrition information on the internet, eating healthy looks harder. Not everything you hear about nutrition is true. In fact, some myths are so widely accepted that you may start to feel like you can’t eat anything but vegetables.  

Not only is this untrue, but unhelpful. Here is a list of the most common diet myths and the facts to set the record straight.

1. Olive oil is healthier, so use as much as you want.

Most fatty oils have about the same amount of calories. Olive oil has monosaturated fat, which is less likely to clog your arteries than saturated fat from butter. However, both have 100 to 120 calories a tablespoon. A better solution is using an oil-spritz to use less oil altogether.

2. Fresh vegetables are better for you than frozen vegetables.

Most farmers flash-freeze frozen vegetables, which means they retain nutrients. This process makes frozen produce as nutritious as fresh vegetables that travel unfrozen for days before sold. The healthiest way to buy vegetables is fresh from a local farmer. However, frozen vegetables are also healthy and a great option for a dinner side.

3. Dark bread is better than white bread.

Dark bread isn’t automatically healthier. Some manufactures use caramel coloring, but use nearly the same ingredients as white bread. Rather than choosing bread by the color, look for “whole grain” labels. The best bread has unrefined wheat. With wheat bread you get twice as much fiber as white bread and higher amounts of potassium, selenium, and magnesium.  

4. Food labelled as “natural” is good for you.

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) doesn’t define “natural,” which means this word has little value on food labels. Many “natural” foods are highly processed and include high fructose corn syrup. Instead of finding "natural" foods, look for “organic” labels. The USDA does regulate use of this word. Organic means grown or made without pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, and synthetic fertilizers.

5. Heating olive oil destroys its health benefits.

Olive oil doesn’t lose nutritional value when heated. In fact, olive oil only loses nutritional value after heating it over the smoking point (405°F).

6. Organic foods are healthier.

Organic food is healthier when it comes to how the farmers produce the food. When you eat organic food, you support sustainable farming and well-being of livestock. However, organic food is not healthier for you to eat. An apple’s nutrients don’t change based on how farmers produced it. The apple is still an apple. Food not produced organically may have traces of herbicides or pesticides. Make sure you wash produce carefully before you eat it.

7. Sugar is bad for you.

You need sugar to bake and add flavor to bland foods. While you shouldn’t go overboard, sugar has value. You can eat sugar and still live a healthy life. Most health experts recommend that sugar supply 10% of your total calories every day. This means if you have a 2,000 calorie diet, 200 calories would come from sugar.

8. Eggs raise cholesterol levels.

Recent studies show eggs don’t contribute to high cholesterol levels. In fact, eggs contribute rich vitamins and minerals. About 25% of the cholesterol in your blood comes from food and 75% comes from your liver. Your liver uses fats to produce cholesterol. Eggs don’t have a lot of fats, which means they don’t contribute to high cholesterol.

9. Boiling water with salt increases sodium in food.

Not only does boiling water with salt speed up the cooking process, but it also helps vegetables retain nutrients. Boiling vegetables quickly also reduces loss of nutrients from overcooking. Add one teaspoon of salt for every cup of water you boil.

10. Fried foods have too much fat.

When fried quickly, oils can't enter food, which means you can fry foods without excessive amounts of fat. Keep foods from absorbing oil by frying at 375°F. Lower temperatures increase fat concentration.  

11. Drinking orange juice will stop you from getting a cold.

Some studies suggest vitamin C doesn’t fight colds for everyone. Drinking more than 200 mg may reduce how many days you have a cold, but it varies by person. Even if vitamin C helps reduce the duration of your sickness, it won’t stop you from catching a cold.

12. Celery doesn’t add calories because you burn more than you take in.

Celery has less than ten calories per serving, which makes it a great snack food. But most people don't chew enough to burn those ten calories.

13. Nuts have too much fat to be healthy.

Too much of any food is unhealthy. As long as you keep your nut snack to a handful, they have excellent health benefits. Nuts provide protein and other nutrients to keep you healthy and protect against heart disease.  

When it comes to health, knowledge is power. Talk with your doctor to discuss ways you can improve your health. He or she can help resolve diet myths that sound suspicious to you.
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