Healthy eating is important, but it can take a lot of work to keep up with changing nutritional advice and diet fads. Misunderstandings and misconceptions may remain in place long after expert guidance has been revised or updated. Here are six myths about nutrition that have been debunked so you don’t feel guilty about what’s on your plate.
Myth: Avoid All Fats
While many people seek to improve their health by sticking to low-fat diets, our body needs fat to work correctly and absorb nutrients, such as vitamins D, A, E, and K. In fact, low-fat and nonfat foods may be worse for you, as many of these items have more sugar than the full-fat versions.
Instead of cutting out fats completely, try incorporating foods with healthy fats, such as nuts, fish, and avocados, into your diet to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Myth: Gluten-Free Diets Are Healthier
Gluten is a protein in grains like wheat, rye, and barley. In recent years, there has been a surge of gluten-free products on the market, which is terrific for people with celiac disease or gluten sensitivity. However, unless you fall into those categories, gluten is not intrinsically unhealthy.
Cutting gluten out of your diet means eliminating several sources of complex carbohydrates. Many gluten-free foods are also less healthy than ones with gluten — manufacturers often add extra salt, sugar, or refined carbs to gluten-free foods to make their taste and texture more like the original versions.
Myth: Eating Eggs Isn’t Good for Your Health
Until 2015, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommended people reduce their consumption of eggs to lower cholesterol. While it’s true that egg yolks contain cholesterol, eating eggs isn’t linked to elevated cholesterol levels. In fact, eggs offer numerous health benefits, such as lowering blood pressure and the risk of type 2 diabetes. Eggs also contain valuable omega-3 fatty acids, proteins, and antioxidants.
Myth: Drinking Coffee Is Bad for You
Coffee’s questionable nutritional reputation is understandable. From 1991 to 2016, the World Health Organization categorized it as a potential carcinogen. Yet it turns out that coffee is not only safe to drink when consumed in moderation — around 2 to 5 cups per day — but this level of consumption can be good for you.
Moderate coffee drinking is associated with lowered risks for conditions such as gallstones, depression, Parkinson’s disease, and heart disease. Coffee is also a source of vitamin B-2 and magnesium. If you’re sensitive to caffeine or simply don’t want to risk caffeinated coffee affecting your blood pressure, decaf has the same benefits.
Myth: Fresh Produce Is Better for You Than Frozen
It turns out that eating frozen or canned fruits and veggies is just as good — or perhaps even better — than fresh produce. Produce is usually frozen right after harvest when nutrients are at their peak. In contrast, nutrient levels can drop in the time it takes for fresh fruits and vegetables to go from the fields to your plate. While canned produce may have added salt and sugar, rinsing them can lower the amount of these less healthy ingredients.
Myth: Dairy Products Are Unhealthy
Yes, dairy products can contain saturated fat. However, that doesn’t mean they’re always unhealthy. Milk, yogurt, and cheese are loaded with calcium and protein, and the American Heart Association approves of adults having two to three servings a day of fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
Yogurt is the best form of dairy due to its healthy probiotic bacteria. (A lot of yogurts have added sugar, though, so make sure to read the label before buying.) Vitamin D is regularly added to milk, making skim milk a great way to get several valuable nutrients. And because cheese is made from milk, it has the same added health benefits. Cheese also protects your teeth from cavities.
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