So you’ve decided it’s time to buckle down and start eating healthy. Good for you!
But we get it, when you’re working to get your diet back on track it’s not always easy to know what the right choices are. That’s why it’s comforting to know that there are at least a handful of healthy eating facts you can depend on.
No brainers such as fats are bad, carbs are the devil and vegetarian diets are always the healthiest choice. But what if those “facts” weren’t actually facts at all? What if they were flat out WRONG?
Well, we hate to be the bearer of bad news but it turns out those three well-known food facts—along with a few others you’d likely swear are true—are nothing more than common food myths that have duped all of us for years.
Today we’re calling foul and exposing the top 11 common food myths for what they really are. Let’s get started with one of those three we just mentioned…
Myth 1: Fat makes you fat.
FALSE! We’re so ready for this myth to finally bite the dust. The studies “proving” that eating fat will make you blow up like a balloon were flat out flawed. The truth is fat can help keep you healthy. It makes you feel fuller, longer, so you’re at less risk for overeating. Plus fat helps your body absorb the critical vitamins and minerals it needs to function.
Diets high in healthy fats, such as full fat dairy, have even been linked to a lower diabetes risk and higher HDL (“good”) cholesterol. So don’t go fat-free. You’re not doing your health any favors, and you’re likely harming it.
Myth 2: Margarine is better than butter because it has less fat and calories.
No, no, no! First, margarine generally has the same calories as butter, so it’s actually an even playing field when it comes to caloric intake. But far more important than calories is what it is you’re putting into your body when you choose margarine over butter.
Margarine is made with inflammatory vegetable oils, disease-linked trans fats (for the time being) and chemicals. Butter, on the other hand, is cream or milk and perhaps salt. That’s it. Your body knows how to process and use dairy and salt. It won’t ever have a clue what to do with vegetable oil, trans fats and chemicals.
Myth 3: The skin of the chicken (or turkey or duck) is fattening and you should remove it before you cook it.
Just the opposite. When cooking a bird, leave the skin on before you put it in the oven or on the grill. The skin helps lock in the natural juices, keeping your dinner moist and tender. Besides the skin typically only adds 50 or so calories. If you still want to take the skin off when you’re done cooking, that’s fine. (Although there’s really no need to, see Myth #1.) But leave it on at least long enough to do its job.
Myth 4: Eggs raise cholesterol levels. Skip them.
Forget everything you’ve learned about eggs. Not only do they NOT contribute to high cholesterol levels, they’re actually incredibly good for you. Loaded with vitamins like vitamin D, minerals like iron, and antioxidants like lutein that your body needs (and sometimes doesn’t get enough of!), the only reason you should skip eggs is if you don’t like them!
Myth 5: Egg whites are just as healthy – if not healthier – than egg yolks.
Remember, we said forget everything you’ve learned about eggs. We meant it. Because the yolks are where the good stuff is. Not only do eggs taste better whole, but the yolks are where the majority of the nutrients are, including nearly half the protein! And the fat – which isn’t bad for you! – helps to fill you up.
Myth 6: All carbs are bad.
In fairness, if you take out the word “all” and replace it with “many,” we’d likely be agreeing with this one. But the blanket statement all carbs are bad is simply just not true. Your body needs carbohydrates to function, so eliminating them completely is a REALLY bad idea.
However, it’s important to choose your carbs wisely. If you’re eating refined flour, you might as well be eating sugar. But other carbs, like sweet potatoes, beans, and whole grains, definitely have a place in a healthy diet. In fact, people who eat whole grains tend to have 20-30 percent less heart disease. And if that’s not enough, eating whole grains has also been associated with lower body weight.
Myth 7: Wheat bread is better than white. After all, whole grains are good for you!
Back up! Whole grains and wheat bread aren’t the same thing. We’ve all been brainwashed into thinking they are, but they’re not. Multigrain, whole wheat and wheat are all words used to trick you into thinking you’re getting something healthier than white bread (or crackers or pasta…).
But the truth is unless the label reads “whole grains” the wheat flour you’re scarfing down has been through as much refining as white flour. Which means it’s just as bad for you.
Myth 8: You should avoid all carbonated drinks.
This is another one where phrasing matters. The carbonation isn’t the problem. The problem is the sugars, artificial sweeteners, and chemicals that make up most carbonated beverages. If it read “avoid all sodas/soft drinks” we’d be on board!
But plain carbonated water – including soda water, club soda, or seltzer – can be a refreshing way to hydrate and mix it up a bit. Add a squeeze of fresh fruit, or some fruit-infused iced cubes, and enjoy. Just make sure you’re getting the sodium-free versions, and don’t pick up tonic water by mistake.
Myth 9: A vegetarian diet is always healthier.
Again with the “always.” A vegetarian diet can be healthy. It can also be unhealthy. A diet that includes organic, free range meats is also perfectly healthy too.
Think about it this way: pancakes, French fries, and fettuccine with tomato sauce are all technically vegetarian dishes. Not exactly the healthiest dishes on the planet. And then there’s the soy problem. In order to get enough protein vegetarians often turn to soy products, which can be bad news too. (Click here to learn more.)
Myth 10: Frozen vegetables aren’t as healthy as fresh.
This one is a real shame, because it keeps people from getting a wide variety of vegetables during off seasons. For some reason, people think that all frozen vegetables are frozen with preservatives or stabilizers.
The truth is most of them are flash frozen to maintain taste and quality without additives. If you want to be absolutely certain, check the label on the bag of frozen vegetables. As long as the only ingredient is the vegetable – no sauce, no preservatives – it’s often just as healthy as the fresh stuff.
Myth 11: Kale is the healthiest leafy green there is.
Ready for a shock? This one’s a myth, too.
Yes, kale is a super food. And don’t get us wrong, we’re kale crazy too. We love the stuff, and its health benefits, around here. But when you look at overall nutritional density, collard greens, romaine, leaf lettuce, and spinach ALL outrank kale.
Now, we’re not saying you should stop eating kale unless you have thyroid issues or are on a blood thinner. (And don’t buy into those thallium scare tactics either.) We’re certainly not going to. Just don’t give up these other leafy greens, either! Mix them all up for a powerhouse punch.