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Debunking five nutrition myths

Overhead view of a bowl of oatmeal with fruit, a cup of coffee, and avocado on a cutting board.

Like in most subject areas, there will always be myths, particularly when it comes to food and health. Here are five nutrition myths I am happy to debunk.

1. Carbs are bad for you. Carbohydrates serve as your body’s preferred source of energy for daily tasks and it provides fuel for the brain. Healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and dairy provide carbohydrate. Choose these carbs more often than refined carbs (white breads and pastas, pastries, sweets and sodas).

2. The body needs an occasional “cleanse.” Our body cleanses itself and in fact, it’s quite amazing at eliminating unwanted products. That is literally what your kidneys and liver do! Maintaining a healthy diet of fruits, vegetables, lean protein, low-fat dairy, whole grains and adequate amounts of water will help keep these important organs functioning at it’s best.

3. Fresh produce is better than canned or frozen. The nutrient content of fresh produce compared to canned or frozen is quite similar. Manufactures of frozen and canned fruits and vegetables generally use produce immediately after harvesting so there is very little nutrient loss up front. The canning and freezing process may yield some nutrient loss, depending on the type of nutrient, but it’s generally not a significant difference. Choose no added salt canned vegetables and fruits canned in it’s own juices to avoid added sodium and sugars. The main point is to simply eat more fruits and vegetables, no matter fresh, canned or frozen.

4. All foods high in fat are unhealthy. Our body needs fats to support cell growth, help keep our bodies warm and help absorb certain nutrients. However, not all fats are created equal. Unsaturated fats, including monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, can lower bad cholesterol levels and be beneficial for our health. Choose nuts and nut butters, avocado, liquid oils, and fatty fish, and limit saturated and trans-fat foods like butter, heavy cream, fatty meats, and deep-fried foods.

5. Honey and maple syrup are better for you than sugar. Yes, honey and maple syrup do contain disease-fighting antioxidants that sugar does not have. However, they are still added sugars, which can cause dental cavities, raise blood glucose levels, and lead to weight gain. The bottom line is to simply use less added sugars, no matter if it’s sugar, honey or syrup.

There’s a lot of conflicting diet advice in the media. Hopefully, this clears up some of the confusion!


Source: 10 Nutrition Myths Debunked, Food and Nutrition, Julie Lanford, MPH, RD


This blog first appeared in the Pantagraph on March 24, 2021.