There are just so many lies floating around as nutrition advice that it is difficult to decide between food myths and facts. While some of these nutrition myths are simply misguided beliefs — others are downright dangerous and can set you on the path to chronic illness and obesity risk. This can take years off your life so it is extremely crucial that you differentiate fact from fiction.
Sometimes, these lies in the media seem so real or are reiterated so many times that they seem like the truth. Let’s bust some of these popular food myths so you can rule out the nonsense and just concentrate on good health.
Lie #1: Saturated fat is the root cause of heart disease.
How many times have we heard that “saturated fat is bad”? The belief seems to have stemmed from this unproven hypothesis from the 1950s. This idea has formed the basis for nutritionists’ dietary recommendations for years now to the point where the people are avoiding healthful fats in their diet.
The American National Academies' Institute of Medicine recommends adults to intake 45-65 percent of calories from carbohydrates, 20-35 percent from fat and 10-35 percent from protein. This is actually just the fat to carb ratio flipped on its head which puts you at a higher risk of heart disease. You actually need a diet with 50-85 percent of your calories to come from healthy fats.
Recent studies found absolutely no link between consuming saturated fat and the risk of heart disease. Many other studies confirm that the war waged on fat is uncalled for and saturated fat has no bearing on heart health.
You need saturated fats to help build and maintain healthy cell membranes and produce various hormones. Fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E and K need those fats for key biological processes. In fact, saturated fat is the top fuel for your heart.
Lie #2: Whole grains are the best thing for your health.
How many of us have been spending a pretty penny buying whole grains with a passion for good nutrition? This is because the whole grains being beneficial is one of the most widespread healthy food myths that we are sure you will need proof. Yes, it’s true that all grains – whole and otherwise can cause your insulin and leptin levels to go up. High levels of insulin and leptin would result in health problems like high blood pressure, imbalanced cholesterol ratios, being overweight and diabetes.
If you suffer from insulin/leptin resistance, it is very likely that you are suffering from at least one of the conditions listed above. Your lipid profile is usually the first to get disturbed, so if you’re seeing that bloated belly or struggling to maintain an ideal body weight you know the culprit.
Many whole grains also contain gluten, which can set off allergies and food sensitivities. Gluten intolerance can be a sneaky health disruptor which is linked to poor gut health but difficult to diagnose. The simple solution is to lower your grains intake if you have high levels of insulin in your blood.
Lie #3: You should be cutting back on sodium.
Health professionals are constantly telling us to cut back on sodium to bring down blood pressure. We are ideally asked to eat 1500-2300 mg per day (about 3/4 to 1 teaspoon of salt). And it’s true that reducing sodium can indeed help those who have high blood pressure in the first place.
But here’s the clincher: Blood pressure is not directly responsible for death; it is a risk fact for sure, but not a cause of disease. Multiple studies (1, 2, 3) have shown that sodium has little or no effect on high blood pressure.
Yet other studies show that too little sodium can be harmful to health, like experiencing insulin resistance, elevated LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, along with increasing the risk of death in people suffering from Type II diabetes. (4, 5, 6). All in all, evidence shows that healthy people do not need to reduce their sodium intake.