Even though there’s so much information available about different food groups and diets, there’s also a lot of misinformation out there. You’ve probably heard at one time or another that fat, sugar, or carbohydrates are bad for you.
But are they? It’s time to set the record straight on eight food myths that people still believe. Here’s the scoop.
1. Saturated fat increases your risk for cardiovascular disease
Thanks to biased research, people have believed a big lie for over 50 years. Scientists and media have been promoting the idea that saturated fat is unhealthy and can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.
But when scientists analyzed the data again, they discovered that the original study had purposefully excluded information that had been obtained from over 16 countries.
In a more recent study which observed close to 350,000 individuals, it was confirmed that saturated fat isn’t actually associated with a higher risk of coronary heart disease or cardiovascular disease.
This food myth may have propelled your fear of butter and animal fats. So, maybe you can start rethinking this myth.
2. Multigrain doesn’t mean whole grain
If you see a product marketed as “multigrain”, you might immediately think it’s healthy. Packaging and slogans also promote the idea that multigrain equals whole grain, and therefore, is a better item for you.
However, multigrain only implies that more than one grain has been used in the product. Nonetheless, the item can still be refined, processed and filled with additives and preservatives.
For example, a multigrain bagel can contain up to 350 calories – that’s without any additional spreads! What’s more, most of these calories are empty calories and don’t offer much nutrition.
3. Carbohydrates make you fat
Carbohydrates are one of the three main nutrients that your body needs to stay healthy. Along with carbohydrates, a balanced diet should include proteins and fats to maintain optimal health.
It’s true that if your body doesn’t use carbohydrates as energy, they will be stored as fat in the body. But this is nothing new. If you consume more calories than you burn, your body will store this excess energy in the form of fat stores. That goes for everything from carbohydrates, to fats, to proteins.
But that doesn’t mean carbohydrates are inherently evil. What’s more, there are many different dietary sources of carbohydrates.
For example, a piece of whole fruit is a carbohydrate but it’s definitely more healthy and nutrient-dense than a bottle of processed and pasteurized fruit juice – another type of carbohydrate.
It’s important to not ostracize an entire nutrient group, like carbohydrates, from your diet. But what is important is to choose whole foods of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins and create a balanced diet with all three.
4. Sugar is bad
Your body actually needs the natural sugars that occur in whole foods. According to Harvard University, “glucose…is the primary source of energy for every cell in the body,” and that includes your brain, which uses up to half of the sugar energy within the body.
Of course, too much of a good thing isn’t a good thing anymore, but don’t be afraid of naturally occurring sugar, like the fructose in apples or pears.
What you should shun is high fructose corn syrup and other manufactured sugars which can negatively impact your health and put you at risk for things like diabetes, obesity, and inflammation. As you can see, it’s important to include whole food sources of sugar into your balanced diet.
5. Eggs are healthy
Eggs seem harmless and for decades, they have been inseparable food items on our breakfast tables.
However, research says eggs are not so harmless at all. In fact, they can't even be labeled “healthy” since FDA's rule states a food item may not contain more than 90mg of cholesterol per serving. Even eating half an egg won't save it because it won't pass the FDA criteria!
The egg industry has tried to fight against the anti-egg movement and has tried to advertise eggs as “healthy” and “nutritious” but U.S. Court of Appeals has found such statements to be false and misleading.
6. Microwaves make your food radioactive
Many people have boycotted the microwave out of fear that it makes food radioactive. But this is just another myth. Ionizing radiation, from instruments like x-ray machines, as well as the ultraviolet light of the sunshine, can be harmful. However, microwaves don’t use ionizing radiation.
The waves used within microwaves cannot break molecules apart. They can only make the molecules vibrate. What’s more, these waves do not alter the chemical or molecular structure of the food that gets zapped in the microwave.
7. Low-fat diets are healthy
At this point, we’ve seen that some health myths demonize saturated fats and eggs. Since you’re not encouraged to consume healthy fat sources, you’re told to eat a low-fat diet. And instead of eating traditional forms of fat, like animal fats and olive oil, you’re encouraged to consume a diet high in grains, carbohydrates, and processed cooking oils like peanut, corn, soy, and canola.
But is this low-fat approach healthier? The answer is no, making low-fat diets yet another myth that needs to be debunked.
Diets deprived of healthy sources of fat leave individuals even more susceptible to serious health problems, like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and inflammation throughout the body.
8. Quinoa is a high-protein grain
There are two problems with this myth. First of all, quinoa isn’t a grain. It’s a seed. The second problem is that while there is some protein in quinoa, you probably shouldn’t be telling yourself that it’s a “high-protein” food.
For each cup of cooked quinoa, you get about 8 grams of protein. And while that’s more protein than you’ll get in a cup of cooked rice or oatmeal, it’s not just a protein-rich food.
Quinoa is very high in carbohydrates, too. In fact, one cup of cooked quinoa is about 70 percent carbohydrates and just 15 percent protein. And eating too much quinoa can also contribute to unwanted weight gain.
There are so many types of food available to us today. And thanks to the many myths and misinformation out there, we can go a long time avoiding the very foods we should be consuming, and vice versa.
Do you believe any of these eight food myths?