Nutrition research is ongoing and therefore nutrition advice is constantly changing. Mixed study results can be confusing and leave you wondering who and what to believe. This is where registered dietitians (like myself) come in. We receive extensive training in research and stay current in order to provide our clients with high quality information that is grounded in science and evidence based. Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, in magazines or see on TV- including Dr. Oz ! As with just about everything else in life, there are major politics involved with food. There are several big players in the food industry with a lot of money to spend on manipulating consumers. Please make sure your information is coming from validated sources – be skeptical! To provide an example – the TV commercials that sing the praises of high fructose corn syrup saying it’s “natural” and “healthy” are funded by corn growers with an ulterior motive-money! My only motive is to improve your health. In fact, I believe it is the passion and expertise of every dietitian out there. With that being said, here are a few big time lies of mainstream nutrition that I want to take a moment to clear up:
Lie No. 1: Eggs are Unhealthy
Fact: Eggs are among the most nutritious foods in the world. Eggs have been demonized for years because of their high cholesterol content. It used to be believed that a diet high in cholesterol would result in an increase in blood cholesterol, which is a risk factor in developing heart disease. Recently, however, it has been proven that dietary cholesterol does NOT contribute to increased cholesterol in the blood. In fact, eggs in particular help raise the “good” cholesterol which is linked to a reduced risk of many diseases. Eggs absolutely do NOT cause high blood cholesterol or heart disease. What’s more? Eggs are insanely nutritious. They contain a little bit of almost every nutrient we need. Each whole egg contains 7 grams of high quality protein, 5 grams of healthy fat, and a boat load of vitamins, minerals and important antioxidants. In fact, eggs are often called “nature’s multivitamin.” Now go eat some eggs and feel good about it!
Lie No. 2: Low-fat Foods are Good for You
Fact: Low-fat foods are typically highly processed foods loaded with harmful substances. Fat is flavor. When natural fat is removed from a food, it tastes terrible. In order to compensate for lost flavor, manufacturers add sugar, artificial sweeteners and other unwanted additives that are harmful to our health. Low-fat dairy (milk, cottage cheese, yogurt) can be an exception to this, but always, always, ALWAYS read your labels to be sure! Use the guidelines in my blog post Identifying Hidden Sugar and opt for the full fat version if the low-fat food contains these or any other unwanted extras.
Lie No. 3: A Calorie is A Calorie
Fact: Not all calories are created equal. Many people believe that the only thing that matters when it comes to weight loss is calories in vs. calories out. This is simply not true. Different foods go through distinct metabolic pathways in the body and affect hunger, hormones and health differently. While calories do matter in weight loss, they aren’t the only things that matter. The types of foods we get our calories from are equally important. You will often hear me say “count nutrients, not calories.”
Lie No. 4: Vegetable Oils are Good for You
Fact: Most vegetable oils are highly processed and refined products, which lack in essential nutrients and pose several health risks. Vegetable oils include, but are not limited to: canola oil, soybean oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil, grapeseed oil and sunflower oil. Vegetable oils do not exist in nature, rather they are industrially made using harsh chemicals and toxins. They also tend to contain significant amounts of harmful trans fats. Several high quality studies suggest that the consumption of vegetable oil can raise the risk of both cancer and heart disease. But because vegetable oils are very inexpensive, the majority of food manufacturers and restaurants (who both prioritize profit over your health) use them in food preparation. This is yet another reason why I recommend avoiding processed food and eating at home as often as possible. Healthy and natural oil options are extra virgin olive oil, coconut oil, almond oil and avocado oil. Choose these to cook with at home.
Lie No. 5: You Can “Make Up” For a Bad Diet with Supplements
Fact: The majority of your nutrition needs to come from whole foods. The reason for this is because whole, healthy foods contain tens of thousands of phytochemicals, proteins, fiber, and fats that work together as a whole. This concept simply cannot be replicated into a pill or supplement form. Supplements were designed to help close a nutritional gap and treat deficiencies – for instance someone who is lactose intolerant may need to take supplemental Calcium + Vitamin D or someone who is vegan should take Vitamin B12 to supplement their diet. The bottom line is that a poor diet made up of processed foods, refined sugar and grains CANNOT be counteracted with supplements. There are no short cuts here…eat whole, natural, nutrient dense foods.
These are 5 of MANY lies told by mainstream nutrition. Because I know this kind of information is easier to digest in small doses, I’m stopping here. I plan on following up with Part Two this week so stay tuned!