Clearing Up Confusion: Nutrition Myths vs. Facts



Nutrition Myths and Facts

Fad diets and nutrition-related sensationalized media headlines abound, leaving consumers confused and questioning the accuracy of the health and nutrition information they read, see, and hear. To clear up some confusion and get the facts about what you’re eating and its effect on your health, here are some popular nutrition myths and the real facts about them.

Myth #1: Egg yolk is filled with “bad” cholesterol and isn’t good for you. Fact:  The cholesterol found in eggs – dietary cholesterol, is different from the cholesterol found in the body – blood cholesterol. Some foods (mostly animal products) contain dietary cholesterol.  In fact, eggs are a recommended food to increase according to the 2010 Dietary Guidelines. One large egg contains important nutrients like vitamin D, riboflavin, phosphorous and selenium. So what does affect your blood cholesterol? Certain saturated and trans fats like full-fat dairy and pastries made with shortening or partially hydrogenated oils.

Myth #2: Organic means the food is local, natural, and healthier for you. Fact: Organic foods have a health halo around them, but just because something is organic doesn’t mean it is good for you. In fact, there is no evidence that organic foods have more nutrients than non- organic ones. The organic label describes how a product is raised or grown, whereas “local” indicates the food you are consuming was grown nearby.  Foods labeled “natural,” “sustainable,” “hormone-free,” or “free-range” are not necessarily organic. As opposed to the use of “organic,” there are not established definitions for any of these other claims.

Myth #3: Beef is the primary source of fat and cholesterol in the diet. Fact:  Beef contributes less than 10% of saturated fat and total fat in the diet and is considered one of the top sources of monounsaturated fat, the heart-healthy fat found in olive oil. According to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, the major sources of saturated fat in the American diet include full-fat cheese, grain-based desserts, dairy-based desserts, and sausage, franks, bacon, and ribs. Beef and mixed beef dishes only account for about four percent of the saturated fat in American diets, and one-third of the saturated fat in beef is stearic acid, which has a neutral effect on blood cholesterol levels.

Myth #4: Eating after 6 pm will lead to weight gain. Fact: Weight gain results from the imbalance of calories in versus calories out, not the time of day you eat. That said, if you have eaten all the calories you need for the day by 6 pm and haven’t expended any of the calories (through exercise), you could potentially gain weight if you continue to eat. But if you haven’t met your calorie needs for the day, you won’t put on the pounds by eating at night as long as you don’t eat more than what you need. Before you sit down on the couch and chow down, think about whether you’re eating for fuel or to cope with stress or other emotions. If it’s the latter, try other ways to deal with the emotions, like meditation or going for a walk.

Find all of our Salad Swap recipes online at

By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express


Super Salad Ingredient Swaps

Fresh Express Super Salad Ingredients

You head to the salad bar thinking you’re making a healthier lunch choice. After all, fruit and vegetables are what Americans need to eat more of, right?! You start to fill your plastic container with some greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and the next thing you know you’re paying for a two-pound salad composed of roasted vegetables, breaded chicken, Chinese noodles, bacon, croutons, and a creamy dressing. But it’s a salad, so it’s healthy.

Not so fast.

Salad can be a good-for-you and delicious choice – that’s what the Fresh Express Salad Swap is all about. But as with everything else, you have to choose wisely. Before you reach the salad bar for your next lunch break, remember to balance your salad bowl. Like ice cream shops, salad bars offer so many toppings to choose from, but you don’t need all of them on every salad. The base of your salad should be greens and raw vegetables, with one lean protein, maybe a starchy vegetable, and a sprinkling of healthy fat. Here are some ingredients to swap on your next visit to the salad bar.

1.  Swap in leafy greens for iceberg lettuce.  The darker and leafier the greens, the richer they are in fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, and iron.  Some of the best greens to fill the base of your salad are kale, baby spinach, mixed greens and arugula.

2.  Swap in raw or blanched vegetables for roasted vegetables. Roasted or sautéed vegetables can carry a lot of oil with them, which means additional fat that you aren’t aware of. Stick with a variety of crisp, colorful vegetables like cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli.

3.  Swap in fresh fruit for dried and canned fruit. Adding fruit to your salad is a great way to get a boost of vitamin C and more fiber, just be careful what you choose. Dried fruits don’t have the same volume as fresh fruits. If you eat one serving of dried fruit, you could end up taking in a lot more calories. For example, 1 cup of grapes has 104 calories, whereas 1 cup of raisins (dried grapes) has 493 calories. If you do choose dried fruits, be sure to reduce the serving size to account for the extra calories. As for canned fruit, watch out for the ones canned in syrup as opposed to water.  Find a comprehensive list of Fresh Express recipes that include fruit HERE.

4.  Swap in grilled, roasted or baked proteins for “crispy” ones. “Crispy” is code for breaded and fried, which means added calories and fat and less protein. Your best protein choices are grilled chicken, baked tofu, roasted turkey, a hard-boiled egg, baked salmon, and albacore tuna. If you’re looking for more vegetarian options, try beans and edamame, which are good vegetarian sources of protein and will keep you satisfied thanks to their fiber.

5.  Swap in avocado, nuts, and cheese for bacon bits, crunchy onions, and croutons. The latter may be tasty, but they’re loaded with sodium and don’t offer much in the way of nutrition. If you want that crunch, add a small sprinkling of nuts or seeds. Other healthy fat options you can add are cheese and avocado – just watch the portions! If you pile them all on, your salad will quickly be out of balance and too high in fat.

6.  Swap in a vinaigrette for creamy dressings. Ranch, blue cheese, creamy Italian, and Caesar are some of the highest calorie and fattiest dressings at the salad bar. Opt for olive-oil based vinaigrettes or better yet, drizzle some olive oil and vinegar of your choice on top. If you can’t resist the creamy varieties, look for low-fat and yogurt-based dressings.  Find a guide to simple homemade dressings HERE.

By Jessica Fishman Levinson, MS, RDN, CDN for Fresh Express

Learn more about the Fresh Express Salad Swap!