It's hard to walk down the street let alone have a meal at a restaurant without someone telling you what's healthy or why you shouldn't eat something.
Everyone is an expert, supposedly.
But here's the thing: The ins and outs of nutrition are confusing because researchers are constantly learning new things. Odds are, you've read or heard countless food myths over the years, and unfortunately, the false claims have tainted the reputations of some things that are actually quite good for you.
In an effort to set the record straight, check out the real truth about these five food myths.
Myth #1: Coconut oil is better than butter.
Coconut oil has long been thought to be a better oil to use in cooking, but new findings show otherwise.
Just this month, the American Heart Association released a report that recommends people not use the oil. Researchers did not see a difference between coconut oil and other oils like butter, palm oil, and beef fat, which are all high in saturated fat.
What is most surprising is that 82 percent of the fat that’s in coconut oil is saturated, which is way more than butter (63 percent), pork lard (39 percent), and beef fat (50 percent).
"Because coconut oil has no known offsetting favorable effects, we advise against the use," The American Heart Association stated.
Myth #2: Egg yolks are bad for you.
Egg yolks have been totally demonized in the health-food industry because the word on the street was that they caused blood-cholesterol levels to skyrocket. However, those who have been tossing their yolks have also been throwing out the part of the egg with the most nutrients. Say goodbye to vitamin A, D, E, and K along with the omega-3 fats. Egg whites don’t hold a candle to the actual yolk, which contains more vitamin B-2 and B-9.
Myth #3: You should avoid gluten.
People with celiac disease or a serious case of gluten sensitivity are the only people who should keep gluten out of their diets. Unfortunately, gluten-free diets seem to be the in thing right now (even though most people can't even identify what gluten is).
Thanks to a government mandate in place, many products on grocery store shelves that are made with grains are fortified with certain vitamins and minerals. So, those who are choosing to go gluten-free because they think it’s the healthier route are actually missing out on key nutrients like folic acid. In fact, the man who is largely responsible for all the fuss about gluten later found that its supposed side effect of stomach distress was probably just psychological.
Myth #4: High-fructose corn syrup is evil.
Over the years, high fructose corn syrup has been portrayed as an evil villain when it comes to the American diet. But it’s a misconception that it’s higher in fructose than regular table sugar.
According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, table sugar is 50 percent fructose and 50 percent glucose. High-fructose corn syrup is either 42 percent (generally in processed foods) or 55 percent fructose (usually in sodas), with the remainder being glucose.
Nutritionally speaking, the two sweeteners are identical. Basically, you don’t want to be consuming high quantities of either, so remember everything in moderation.
Myth #5: Whole wheat bread is better than white bread.
I know, this one was a shocker for me, too.
For some time now there’s been a big debate about whether white bread was just as healthy as whole wheat bread. People who don’t like the taste of whole wheat will be very happy with these findings.
A new report in the journal Cell Metabolism has found that it’s not about what kind of bread is consumed, rather it all depends on the person who’s eating it.
The study observed as healthy participants consumed 25 percent of their calories from bread for an entire week. Half only ate whole wheat, the others ate white bread. Then after two weeks of not eating bread, the diets were reversed.
Researchers found that there was hardly any difference between the people who ate white bread versus whole wheat. It was more about the glycemic responses people were having. So, one bread type might a good health choice for one person, while the other type might be good for someone else.
Fads come and go, but knowing what you're putting into your body should be a constant. Rather than reading about how to make healthy choices in a tabloid, look to reliable sources like studies and research reports for more solid answers.