5 Nutrition and Diet Myths Debunked


All Carbs Are Evil

Myth. We avoid carbs like the plague. For some reason or another, many consumers are under the impression that a single gram of carbohydrate will make them gain a hundred pounds overnight. Obviously, that’s a hyperbole, but the premise of it is based on reality. So let’s get something straight: a carb is a carb. How our bodies use the types of carbs we consume will vary. The human body breaks down or converts most carbohydrates consumed into glucose, the simplest form of sugar. This monosaccharide is absorbed into the bloodstream by a hormone produced in the pancreas called insulin. Insulin then helps glucose become absorbed into the cells of the body where it is used for energy. If we know our bodies are fueled by carbs, why do we think they are so awful? It’s simple. The American diet is rich in processed foods and refined carbs that can negatively affect our metabolism and appetite. The key is to enjoy a diet higher in complex carbs, especially fiber, which take longer to break down and become absorbed.


Microwaves Ruin Nutrients in Foods

Myth. Despite all the convenience and speed they offer, microwaves still get a really bad rap. In spite of claims generated by the fear mongering media, food heated in a microwave won’t lose all of its nutrient content, it won’t become radioactive, and you won’t get cancer ten years down the road just because you microwaved your lunch at work several times a week. If you don’t know how a microwave heats food, it’s actually pretty neat. Much like the sun warms your skin while you sunbathe, a microwave heats food by radiation. This type of equipment uses radio waves at a set frequency to agitate the tiny water molecules in food. The molecules begin to vibrate and generate heat, essentially cooking food from the inside out. Microwaves can be damaging to living cells, but that’s why they are built in strong metal boxes that do not allow harmful waves to escape.

The two factors that actually affect the nutrient content of food are length of cooking/heating time and final temperature. However, that applies to any manner of heating or cooking. Oven, range, grill, or microwave methods will have some effect on the nutrient content of food if the food is cooked for too long and reaches an undesirable temperature. Some heat and water sensitive vitamins and minerals can be compromised, so it is up to the consumer to be mindful of food preparation.


Stay Away from Fats

Myth. Logical reasoning might lead you to think that because fats taste so good then they must be bad. But not really. Don’t feel guilty for indulging in fatty foods. Too many people turn their cheek to fats all together when they are actually an essential part of a healthy diet. In fact, the average daily caloric intake generally has more fat than protein, and for good reason. The trick is consuming wholesome fatty foods that are nutrient-dense and work toward raising your HDL cholesterol (good kind) while lowering your LDL cholesterol (bad kind). Focus on consuming more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from sources like olive oil, safflower oil, canola oil, and avocados. Certain fish, as well as nuts and seeds, are excellent sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are not naturally produced in the body and help reduce inflammation. So, bring out the charcuterie board and let your taste buds explode!


Eggs are Out…Again

Myth. The debate over eggs has been long and draining. Consumers are bombarded with articles about brown versus white eggs, good cholesterol versus bad cholesterol, and egg white over egg yolk – the debates seem never ending. It has to stop. Eggs are delicious and good for the mind, body, and soul. Or they’re good for the body at least. Eating eggs will not increase your bad cholesterol. Research on eggs in the past has never yielded a correlation between egg consumption and blood lipids or increased risk of heart disease. Though not based on scientific findings, common recommendations for eggs are two to six whole eggs per week.

And how about the color of the eggshell? Contrary to current popular belief, brown eggs are not healthier than white eggs. When it comes to eggshell color, there really is no notable difference in the nutritive value, quality, or flavor of an egg. The color is simply consumer preference, just like opting for organic cage-free or eggs from free-range chickens.


Late-Night Meals Lead to Weight Gain

Myth. You probably can’t pinpoint when you first heard it, but you’ve probably been told that eating late at night is bad for you. The thought of weight-gain from a late meal consumed after 8:00 PM has kept you out of the kitchen for fear of temptation for far too long. Keep in mind that your body burns calories all day, every day. Your body does not suddenly decide that all those calories consumed from sunset to sunrise will be stored as fat in your belly and thighs. Calories are the same no matter what time you consume them, so embrace the late night snack temptations. Now, don’t overindulge, of course. What matters the most in your food options is the nutrient content of the food you eat and the portion size.

On a final note, remember the importance of moderation. Don’t feel guilty at the thought of food. Indulge every now and then and practice moderation. It’s about what you eat and how much you eat. Don’t forget to try and gravitate towards more whole foods that are rich in essential vitamins and minerals.