There’s no shortage of nutrition myths out there.
Avoid the hype and look at research from nutrition scientists.
Below are the 10 nutrition myths debunked by science.
Nutrition Myths #1: Consume As Much Omega-6 and Vegetable Oils as Possible
Fats and oils have been a source of nutrition myths for decades.
One important fact: fats and oils aren’t all the same.
Eat a healthy ratio of Omega-3 to Omega-6.
Eat foods with Omega-3 fatty acids. Stay away from processed seed and vegetable oils. It protects your heart, similar to the idea behind Heartgreens.
Final Thoughts: Balance the ratios of Omega-3 and Omega-6 . Too much Omega-6 isn’t healthy.
Nutrition Myths #2: Saturated Fat is Evil
What nutrition myths are there about saturated fats?
In 2001, there was a huge review done of 21 prospective epidemiological studies. In total, this included 347, 747 subjects. (16)
The idea that saturated fat contributes to heart disease was never more than a theory based on shaky science.
The problem is that it became the norm for so long and misled so many people.
The truth is saturated fat raises the level of HDL cholesterol (the good kind) in your blood.
Saturated fat gives you stronger bones. It’s necessary for calcium to be available for bone health. (19)
Saturated fat is also good for your lungs. Your lungs’ air space is coated with a very thin layer of lung surfactant, which is made up of 100 percent saturated fatty acids.
Even your brain benefits from saturated fat. Most of the fatty acids in your brain are saturated.
A diet lacking in saturated fat deprives your brain of a vital component needed to run smoothly. (22)
You can stop avoiding your favorite foods containing saturated fat. Cheese, meat and butter are all free game.
As long as you eat reasonable amounts, there’s no reason you can’t eat these foods as part of a balanced diet.
Final Thoughts: The newest and most reliable research indicates that there’s no link between heart disease and saturated fat. In fact, natural saturated fat foods are good for your health.
Nutrition Myths #3: Eat Low-Fat Foods
Few mainstream nutrition myths are more deceitful that this one.
According to conventional wisdom, you should eat low-fat or non-fat foods because eating fat makes you fat, an idea low-carb diets have fought for many years.
First off, this reasoning is based on the idea that all fat is the same and it’s all bad for you.
But that isn’t the end of it. The consequences of eating low-fat foods get worse.
You see, fat contributes to the taste of food. Do you know how typical foods taste when you suck them dry of fat?
Well, they don’t taste like anything. They’re tasteless, bland and unappetizing. (26)
But even the artificial sweeteners are no better for you. They may not have calories, but studies show that they’re associated with diabetes, heart disease, depression, obesity, and other diseases. (29) (30) (31) (32) (33) (34)
In short, low-fat and non-fat products replace healthy, natural fats with artificial ingredients that are bad for your health. Don’t fall for the trap!
Final Thoughts: Low-fat products are far from a healthy alternative to natural fat-containing foods. They’re highly processed and are often filled to the brim with unhealthy artificial sweeteners. It’s better to eat regular fat-containing foods in moderation.
Nutrition Myths #4: Eat Several Small Meals During the Day
This is one of those myths that just won’t seem to die—no matter how much evidence piles up against it.
The idea behind this lie is that you eat many small meals through the day so that your metabolism stays high.
Eating too often goes against how our bodies developed in nature.
Our ancestors weren’t always fed. More often than not, they fasted for long periods of time.
Going without eating for a while allows for a process known as autophagy.
There are even observational studies showing a lower risk of colon cancer for those who eat fewer meals. In one study, data found a 90% higher chance of colon cancer among those who ate four meals per day than those who ate only two. (41) (42) (43)
Final Thoughts: The idea that it’s better to eat a bunch of small meals during the day simply doesn’t hold up. It’s good to fast once in a while. Higher meal frequency is even linked to colon cancer.
Nutrition Myths #5: Fatty Foods Make You Fat
Perhaps the reason this myth persists is because it sounds logical at first. The fat in food becomes belly fat, right?
Leaving the nutrition myths aside – the truth is more subtle. Although fat has more calories than protein and carbs, high-fat foods by themselves don’t make you fat.
When you eat fat, you enhance your body’s ability to burn fat. If you only eat carbs, what you’re doing is training your body to become efficient at burning carbs.
Reducing fat intake also deprives you of the hormone adiponectin. This hormone increases your metabolism, helping your burn fat at a faster rate.
Also, keep in mind that fat is simply more filling than carbs. Fat is satiating; it keeps you from feeling hungry all the time.
When you eat fat, your small intestine sends out signals that release appetite-controlling hormones. (50)
In this way, fatty foods stop hunger dead in its tracks. You eat less and are better able to manage your weight.
Final Thoughts: Fats aren’t your enemy. Eating excessive carbs is more likely to make you gain weight than a high-fat diet that’s low in carbs.
Nutrition Myths #6: Don’t Eat Eggs
Why do these supposed “experts” keep vilifying healthy foods? One of the biggest examples of their penchant for dietary slander is with eggs.
Nutrition myths tell you eggs are bad because of cholesterol. They say this leads to heart disease.
Thankfully, we have real scientists doing real research and fighting nutrition myths.
The reality is the very opposite: eggs raise the “good” type of cholesterol, not the bad kind associated with heart disease.
Final Thoughts: It’s one of the more common nutrition myths that eggs are linked to heart disease. Eggs give you the good type of cholesterol and are even helpful for losing weight.
Nutrition Myths #7: Too Much Protein Harms Your Kidneys and Bones
Supposedly, eating too much protein can cause kidney disease and osteoporosis – a biggy in nutrition myths.
While eating protein increases short-term calcium excretion from your bones, the long-term effect is just the opposite.
The research shows no correlation between high protein and kidney disease. Instead, studies show that following a high protein diet helps against diabetes and high blood pressure—two of the chief causes of kidney failure. (58) (59) (60) (61)
Thus, protein doesn’t contribute to osteoporosis and kidney failure. It protects you from them!
And remember: protein has many benefits you can’t do without.
Protein helps you build greater muscle mass and lean tissue.
Also, your nails, hair, and skin are mostly made of protein, so you need to consume plenty of protein to keep those parts of your body in order.
This is one reason protein powders like those from Isagenix are so popular.
Final Thoughts: Eating the right amount of protein improves your bone health and reduces the possibility of fracture. Another major benefit of a high protein diet is that it lowers your blood pressure, and alleviates diabetes symptoms, both of which work to prevent kidney failure.
Nutrition Myths #8. Low-Carb Diets Are Risky
A lot of people out there have a negative idea about low-carb diets. But the fact is a low-carb diet has many advantages over a low-fat diet.
While low-fat diets sound like a good idea, it just doesn’t work well against obesity and disease.
Although the fake experts slander low-carb diets, empirical evidence shows they’re more effective.
Research shows that low-carb diets offer a number of benefits. They reduce body fat even while the dieter eats as much as he wants.
With a low-carb diet, you do better at increasing “good” HDL cholesterol while lowering “bad” LDL cholesterol. You even lower your triglycerides.
Plus, low-carb diets are easier to stick to since you’re not constantly limiting your calorie intake. It’s hard to keep a diet when you feel hungry all the time.
Final Thoughts: Low-carb diets are a much better way to lose weight than low-fat diets. Low-carb diets curb your hunger, help with cholesterol, and reverse metabolic disease. They’re also better for people with diabetes.
Nutrition Myths #9: Grains Are for Everyone
It’s a silly idea that everyone should base their diets on grain.
Keep in mind that the agricultural revolution happened rather recently.
Our genes are still used to the kind of eating with did pre-agriculture.
Compared to fruits and vegetables, grains are pretty low in nutrients. And they come with a lot of phytic acid, a substance that binds minerals in the intestine—preventing them from getting absorbed properly.
Wheat, the most popular grain in the western world, causes a long list of health problems.
The kind of wheat we eat nowadays contains large amounts of the protein gluten. Unfortunately, many people are sensitive to gluten.
Gluten can damage intestinal lining, causing pain, stool inconsistency, bloating, and fatigue. It’s even linked to serious brain disorders like schizophrenia and cerebellar ataxia.
Final Thoughts: Grains have low nutritional value compared to foods like vegetables. Grains that contain gluten—such as wheat—can lead to health problems.
Nutrition Myths #10: Make Carbohydrates your Largest Source of Calories
Remember the food pyramid they used to teach us in school? What if it was a source of the major nutrition myths?
That creative visualization of the ideal diet was wrong in so many ways. Chief among the problems with the food pyramid was the fact that it placed so much emphasis on carbs.
If you remember, it made carbohydrates the foundation of the ideal diet.
Veggies and fruits went above the grains, followed by meats and dairy. At the very top were the fats, which were needed only sparingly.
This kind of diet may work in some cases. However, it can be harmful to many people—especially those who suffer from diabetes or metabolic syndrome.
Final Thoughts: High carb diets don’t work. They don’t help you lose weight and can be dangerous for people with conditions like diabetes.
Conclusion about Nutrition Myths
There’s an abundance of nutrition myths out there. They start with bad science or mistaken “conventional wisdom,” which then gets perpetuated by parroting “experts.”
You don’t have to avoid eggs, meat or natural fatty foods. Contrary to what many mainstream gurus tell you, the high-carb, low-fat diet isn’t always the best way to control your weight. In fact, it can be the worst way.
Now that you’re informed about nutrition myths, you can make smarter choices and enjoy a healthier, slimmer body!
Summer Banks, a content strategist at Dietspotlight, has researched over 5000 products in the past 10 years. She has years of nursing training, experience as a manager responsible for 15 supplement brands, and completed coursework on Food and Nutrition from Stanford University. full bio.