Myths—especially compelling ones—have a way of taking hold of our society’s imagination. They usually address some deep-seated emotions, like fear or desire, and magnify it to unreal perspective. And, since we’re kind of a materialistic society that cares A LOT about how we look, nutritional myths tend to take hold more firmly than others. Add the fact that we’re literally bombarded with questionable nutrition advice from TV, billboards, radio, internet ads, etc…it’s really only a matter of time before people are repeating that information as true.
Most nutritional myths evolve out of sloppy science claims or circuitous logic from less-than-reputable *gurus* who are the self-proclaimed next big thing. Huffington Post has found five of the most well-circulated nutrition myths which may actually be terrible for your health:
1. Myth: Saturated Fats are Good For You
Linked to the Paleo diet, positive information about saturated fats (particularly that they don’t contribute to heart disease) is abundant (like the coconut oil craze of 2014). However, the evidence shows that diets rich in saturated fats increase cholesterol and inflammation. Both of which are related to heart disease. As with any diet, though, it’s necessary to consider all things within context. The American Heart Association recommends that only seven percent (140 calories out of 2000 calories) of your daily intake come from saturated fats. Even more importantly, keep your added sugars low. Many saturated fat products tend to have sugars and refined carbs, upping the chance for heart disease even more.
2. Myth: You Need More Protein
The common sentiment seems plausible: eating more protein equals more muscle mass and better health. But chances are that you’re getting enough protein in your normal diet—and too much really isn’t better. NHANES national nutritional surveillance shows that most folks eat just about the right about of protein in their normal routine for our bodies to be able to efficiently process the macronutrient. Wondering what happens if you eat more than your body can utilize? Well, like any other macronutrient (carbs, fat), it can turn into weight gain.
3. Myth: Diet Beverages Don’t Help Lose Weight
It’s way easier to cut out Diet Coke than it is to change larger, more consequential eating habits, isn’t it? Or to jump on the juicing trend and solely consume fruit smoothies and high priced, cold pressed juices? But here’s the thing: losing weight is a simple equation of eating fewer calories than your body burns. Diet drinks typically contain way fewer calories than the smoothies or juices, which have the double downer of not only containing hundreds of calories, but they also don’t fill you up. Chances are you drink a juice, then eat, versus just enjoying a diet beverage with a meal and cancelling out those extra calories.
4. Myth: Exercise Alone Will Melt Pounds
Reiterating the message from above: losing weight is consuming less than you’re burning. Exercise is great for your body—muscles and joints get the action they need to stay juicy and healthy—but if you’re eating more to go along with those workouts, or still eating the same kind of meals, no pounds will be coming off.
5. Myth: Canned Produce is Not as Beneficial as Fresh or Frozen
Produce is canned when it’s at its best, retaining the nutrients and flavor of that peak period. The freezing process doesn’t lock in nutrients at the same level as canning; likewise, fresh produce is picked before its peak period with farmers banking that it will ripen on the trip to the grocery store. Which could be weeks or even months, so it’s not surprising that nutrients are lost. Another bonus to buying canned is that it’s much easier to whip up a meal out of a well-stocked pantry than some questionable produce purchased with good intentions, but left to wilt in the fridge.
What nutritional myths have you debunked?