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.

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