10 Common Nutrition Myths and Facts

There are lot myths about nutrition peddled as scientific facts. Despite significant advance in nutrition science, the myths continue to be propagated in mainstream media.

Here are 10 mainstream nutrition myths that have been discredited by scientific research:

  1. Low - fat, high - carb diet with lots of grains is a healthy diet

    Years ago, everyone was advised to eat a low-fat, high-carb diet. Despite the fact that not a single study had demonstrated that such a diet could actually prevent disease.

    Since then, many studies have shown that this diet does not cause weight loss, prevent cancer or reduce the risk of heart disease.

  2. Salt should be restricted to lower heart blood pressure and reduce heart attacks

    The salt myth is very much alive although there has never been any reliable scientific study backing it. It is established that lowering salt can reduce blood pressure by 1-5 mm/Hg on average; however, it doesn’t have any effect on heart attacks, strokes or death.

    While those with a medical condition like salt-sensitive hypertension must avoid salt, there is no evidence to support that everyone should lower salt intake.

  3. Eating small meals throughout the day

    A favorite weight-loss prescription of dieticians is – 5-6 small meals throughout the day to keep metabolism high.

    But studies disagree with this thinking. Eating 2-3 meals has the same effect on total calories burned as eating 5-6 smaller meals.

    Eating frequently may have benefits for some individuals who are prone to overeating, but it is incorrect to conclude that this affects the amount of calories we burn.

    are even studies proving that eating too often can be harmful - more frequent meals dramatically increased liver and abdominal fat on a high calorie diet.

  4. Whole wheat is a health food

    Wheat has been part of the diet for many years but it underwent a change due to genetic tampering in the 1960s. The ‘new’ wheat is not as nutritious as the older varieties.

    Preliminary research has shown that compared to older wheat, modern wheat may actually increase cholesterol levels and inflammatory markers.

    It also triggers symptoms like pain, bloating, tiredness and enhanced irritable bowel syndrome in patients already suffering from it.

    Also, the ‘whole grain’ label is misleading; these grains have usually been grounded into very fine flour, so they are more like refined grains, which aren’t too healthy.

  5. Saturated fat raises LDL cholesterol in the blood.

    We have always been told that saturated fat raises cholesterol and causes heart disease. This is the basis of modern dietary guidelines.

    Several review studies have subsequently shown that saturated fat is not linked to an increased risk of death from heart disease or stroke.

    More accurately, saturated fats raise HDL (the good) cholesterol and change the LDL particles from small to large LDL, which is linked to reduced risk.

    For the majority, consuming reasonable amounts of saturated fat is safe.

  6. Coffee is unhealthy and should be avoided

    Coffee gets a bad name health-wise from the caffeine. However, many studies show that coffee has potent health benefits.

    This could be because coffee is packed with antioxidants.

    Drinking coffee results in lower risk of depression, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Some studies even show that coffee drinkers live longer than those who don’t drink coffee.

  7. Saturated and trans fats are similar

    Health ‘experts’ usually lump saturated and artificial trans fats in the same category and call them the ‘bad’ fats.

    They are of course correct in treating trans fats as harmful. Trans fat is linked to insulin resistance and metabolism issues, raising the risk of heart disease.

    Saturated fat on the other hand is not harmful, so putting it alongside trans fat is wholly inaccurate.

  8. Low carb diets are dangerous

    Nutrition experts have constantly warned us that low carb diets are bad for health since they clog up arteries.

    The past decade or so has seen several studies conducted on the low-carb diet and the results are the exact opposite of what we have been led to believe.

    Low-carb diets actually lead to greater weight loss and lower most risk factors for heart disease, more than the low-fat diet.

    Of course, like most other diets, they are not for everyone. It is clear however, that they can have significant benefits for people with obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolism problems.

  9. oils like soy bean and corn oils are super healthy

    Vegetable oils like corn oils and soybean are high in Omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which lower cholesterol levels.

    However, cholesterol as we know is only a risk factor for heart disease. Just because something lowers a risk factor, it doesn’t mean that it will also measure favourably on important parameters like heart attacks or death, which is what really counts.

    Fact is many studies have shown that these oils increase the risk of death, from both heart disease and cancer

  10. Energy drinks are less harmful than soda

    Energy drinks are popular and are associated with health benefits. Advertisements featuring star athletes have no doubt added some glamour to the genre.

    But are energy drinks really healthy? How are they different from soda/aerated drinks?

    Neither soda nor energy drinks are healthy because they tend to be high in calories and sugar. They are avoidable in general and there are warning labels that specifically alert high risk categories like pregnant women and children from consuming energy drinks and soda. For anyone watching his calorie intake, energy drinks and soda belong to the same category.


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