Busting nutrition-related myths

by Khushboo on October 30, 2014

The Internet is double-edged sword space.  I love that it gives everyone a voice- whether that is in the form of blogging, updating Facebook statuses, tweeting, or utilizing any other kind of social media outlet.  Unfortunately that’s also Internet’s drawback.  With a click of a button, misinformation is easily spread and over time, it starts to become hardwired in our brains regardless of its lack of accuracy.  Many times, these myths are started by unqualified individuals who cannot back their claims with any source of study or research.  While I’d love to bust these nutrition-related myths every time I hear one, sometimes it’s more appropriate to politely nod & smile.  There’s a time & place…and that time is now.  Here are 4 ludicrous “tips” I’ve heard in the past month: 

  • Dairy is the best source of calcium:  Any mention of eliminating dairy from one’s diet tends to raise the question Where will you get your calcium from?- trust me, I KNOW!  While 1 cup of milk racks in about 300mg of calcium, our body can only absorb 30-35% of that due to the bioavailability of calcium in dairy products i.e. the amount of calcium that’s actually available for absorption into the body from the food.  Various studies reveal that the calcium in green leafy vegetables like kale & Swiss chard are actually better absorbed than milk.  Other great non-dairy sources of calcium include almonds, tahini, broccoli, fortified non-dairy milk & soybeans.   

Almonds

  •  It’s healthiest to cook in unrefined olive oil:  Full of monounsaturated fatty acids that are known to improve cholesterol levels, there’s no doubt that unrefined extra virgin olive oil is a heart-healthy oil.  However due to EVOO’s smoke point (i.e. the temperature at which the oil starts to degrade & produce smoke), it’s better used as salad dressings, lightly sautéing & drizzling.  I personally prefer cooking with rice bran oil or coconut oil, both of which are more heat-stable.  

Omelet with potatoes & mushrooms

  • Organic foods are more nutritious than conventional varieties: The term ‘organic’ refers more to how a food is produced rather than its nutrient content.   Produce labeled as ‘organic’ means that herbicides & pesticides have not been added whereas ‘organic’ meat, dairy & eggs are free from antibiotics & growth hormones.  While eating organic varieties of foods can reduce the risk of consuming pesticide/herbiscide residue and other harmful chemicals, a Stanford Study revealed that there is a lack of strong evidence that organic foods are have a significant nutritional edge over conventional foods (Source).  When the option’s available, I personally prefer to buy organic varieties of meat, eggs & produce from the dirty dozen list i.e. produce with the highest pesticide residue.  These include apples, celery, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, nectarines, bell peppers, spinach, cherries, kale, potatoes & grapes. 
  • Bananas are high in sugar:  Let’s take a look at the numbers- A medium apple contains 19g of sugar whereas a medium banana contains 14g of sugar…shocker eh?  While bananas may contain more total carbohydrates than apples, they also rack in plenty of fiber & various other nutrients including potassium manganese & B vitamins.  If you’re really concerned about a banana’s effect on your blood sugar levels, pair it with some healthy fat (e.g. natural nut butter) or protein (plain Greek yogurt or an egg) to prevent rapid spikes & dips.

Banana & Fritatta Muffins

Whoosh- I feel better already getting that off my chest ;)!

What’s the most ludicrous health- or nutrition-related ‘tip’ you’ve heard recently?

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Shashi @ RunninSrilankan October 30, 2014 at 2:13 pm

Just the other day, a co-worker and I were discussing organic vs conventional – they were saying that it was expensive to eat healthy as organic foods cost more, etc – and I was trying to make a point about conventional just lacking pesticides etc – but they were not buying it. It’s funny how ingrained some of our food related myths can be!
Great post Khushboo!

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:38 pm

Thanks so much, Shashi! Hopefully we can help break these deeply rooted myths, even within just a handful of people!!

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Charlotte @ Commitness to Fitness October 30, 2014 at 2:46 pm

YES! Ok so I JUST learned about the olive oil thing- I think I’ve probably been lighltly poisoning myself by cooking with it. Why do more people not know about this?! Also poor bananas- they have such a bad rep. People essentially think that eating a banana is as bad as a piece of cake or something. I’m going to go celebrate this post by eating a banana and yogurt for breakfast:)

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Giiirl you better be adding some nut butter to that banana bowl :D…YUM!

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Ritika October 30, 2014 at 3:33 pm

Thanks! i am guilty of that calcium – dairy connect. oh and bananas too. weird i just can’t rid my mind of that. bananas could be the easiest breakfast. ever.

okay, i am not sure about this one, but i have heard/read – never to mix fruits.
also never mix nuts, say almonds and walnuts, together a big no. no.
eh?

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm

Ritika, PLEASE add a banana to your breakfast tomorrow. I can understand the fear factor so maybe start with 1/2 a banana and work your way up to a full one?

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Ms.J October 30, 2014 at 4:49 pm

Alright, so the dairy drama; it takes a TON of persuading the elders on the plant side of things. I actually do consume cows milk, but I’m always up for an argument that I believe in 😉 – calcium is every.where . That aside, it is of course different for everyone and I -overall- feel much better with some dairy in my diet. Oh the olive oil! So while I’ve heard about that, it was more to the effect of “destroying the benifits” of the oil as opposed to it becoming downright lethal?! What is your take on that?

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:58 pm

Unlessss you’re using olive oil for deep frying or in overly high temperatures while cooking, I don’t think cooking in olive oil destroys the benefits entirely. Also as refined oils tend to have a higher smoke point, I’d advise using regular olive oil (as opposed to extra virgin) for cooking!

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Parita @ myinnershakti October 30, 2014 at 6:22 pm

I feel like I’ve heard a ton of crazy nutrition stuff lately too! While I do believe that everyone is an expert with regards to their own bodies, I don’t think everyone is an expert when it comes to the science behind nutrition (including me!). I think the most recent thing I heard (that made me shake my head) is that you shouldn’t eat after 7 pm…because it will cause you to gain weight. WHAT?! Sometimes I just want to yell, “PLEASE STOP TALKING!!!”

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:39 pm

Gah the night-time eating myth drives me bonkers! If that was the case, I’d be the size of a house right now!!

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Alyssa @ The Healthy RD October 30, 2014 at 7:45 pm

My eyes practically roll out of my head when I hear people say they’re not eating fruit because it’s too high in sugar. Derp!

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:40 pm

Amen!

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Pooja October 30, 2014 at 8:40 pm

Hey K

I have a question – so i’ve been following loosely the tone it up guide (do you know it??) but the reason it’s loose is cos i need to cook a good amount of indian food to keep the hubby happy and my tummy too tbh
So now i’m using MFP and calorie counting, which is super liberating, I’m somewhat trying to stick to the TIU rules e.g. my mid morning snack was a piece of fruit, and I’m not gonna have pizza and pasta for dinner every night, but i did have an amazing homemade brown rice nasi goreng even though starches at night aren’t recommended, and i was under 1200 calories for the day, so i “indulged” in a diwali leftover laddoo for desert lol
So overall I’m enjoying calorie counting because it means I can eat everything but its helping me to balance you know? So for weight loss what do you recommend? Maybe I should be tracking my macros more? Or is clean eating just the way forward? If so does that leave room for a paneer makhanwala? Or Alu paratha?

Thanks in advance
x

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

Hi Pooja! I haven’t heard too much of “Tone it Up” but I’ll share a bit of my personal experience. I started off with Weight Watchers which was like an avatar of calorie-counting i.e. it taught me a lot of portions and also getting the best bang for my daily intake. Over time I naturally switched to more whole, unprocessed foods because they were more satisfying, especially on a calorie-controlled diet. As my weight loss stalled, I got more interested in macros and learning to fuel my body right- of course that increased more when I qualified to become a Nutrition Specialist. To finish off my journey and wean myself into maintenance, I stopped calorie counting and just tried to continue focusing on getting a balanced diet (e.g. if I had a carb-heavy lunch, I’d make it a point to skip carbs at night and double up on protein) and eating as clean as possible. Looking back, I was probably orthorexic to an extent which wasn’t healthy mentally. Also while I was calorie-counting/macro-counting, I found myself becoming unhealthily obsessed with food and it really took the pleasure out of eating. While I think all these approaches have their merits, especially as you will learning something from each one of them, I am a fan of the cliche “80/20 approach” and that’s also what I practice with my clients- i.e. 80% of my diet is “clean” aka unprocessed, whole foods but there is still room for the occasional treats (in your case paneer makhanwala or alu paratha). Learning to trust our bodies is one of the most difficult things but once you do, it also becomes one of the most rewarding feelings. Along with getting yourself more in tune with your body, it makes maintenance all the more easier!And while reaching a healthy weight will certainly make your body healthy, you also need to develop a healthy mindset towards & relationship with food If I can help anymore, please feel free to email me: thekweigh@gmail.com 🙂

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Sam @ Better With Sprinkles October 30, 2014 at 8:47 pm

haha thank you for standing up for bananas! I feel like they’ve gotten so much hate lately.

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:49 pm

They really have 🙁

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Jen @ Chase the Red Grape October 30, 2014 at 9:41 pm

Love love love! Wish more people knew these facts – I have actually seen people give their kids a diet coke because the fruit juice is ‘full of sugar and unhealthy’… Face plant!

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:49 pm

Thanks Jen! I hate to judge but wow- talk about IGNORANCE!

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Jen @ Bagels to Broccoli October 30, 2014 at 10:36 pm

Khushboo, this is fabulous! I totally agree with these – ESPECIALLY about the organic vs conventional and the bananas thing. No, bananas ARE NOT THE REASON THERE’S AN OBESITY PROBLEM.

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Thanks so much, Jen! It’s funny- the ones criticising bananas tend to be the ones eating those ‘100-calorie’ snack packets instead!

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Megan @ Skinny Fitalicious October 31, 2014 at 1:00 am

I never knew almonds had calcium or the tidbit about olive oil and heat. Great info!

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Glad you learnt something, Megan 🙂

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Tara @ Sweat like a Pig October 31, 2014 at 2:25 am

You taught me something – I didn’t know bananas had less sugar than apples, although it does make sense given how much sweeter the latter taste.

I’ve just gone off the pill (yet to blog about it, shhh haha) and I’m going to be giving up dairy again. I’ve already received a few comments about how I will be lacking calcium already!

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:50 pm

Hahah please be sure to add a calcium disclaimer when you put up your birth control post (excited to read)!

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Amanda @ .running with spoons. November 1, 2014 at 5:02 am

The funny thing is that cultures that have a higher intake of dairy also tend to have a higher rate of osteoporosis, so dairy being the best source of calcium is definitely a load of bull. And I -hate- it when people bash bananas… I’ll never forget reading in a “health” magazine that it’s better to eat a 100 calorie snack pack than it is to eat a banana. Like… excuse me? 😯 I average about 3 a day, and by all the [mis]information out there, I should be either diabetic or overweight. Ridiculous.

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:51 pm

Aside from the number of nutrients in bananas, they are also THAT much cheaper than those over-priced packets of crap…er I mean 100-calorie snack packs 😉

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Brittany November 1, 2014 at 5:50 am

More people need to read this post!

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Thanks, girl 🙂

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~ Carmen ~ November 1, 2014 at 6:06 am

Love this! Meat eaters who ask me — a vegetarian — where I get my protein is a pet peeve. I guess they don’t know that beans, lentils, tofu, & nuts have protein. Happy Halloween! :] // itsCarmen.com ☼ ☯

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Thanks Carmen! Oh boy- when will that question STOP. I am not vegetarian yet some of my fave protein sources are vegetarian (& vegan)!

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Aine @ Awkward Irish Girl Blogs November 1, 2014 at 6:05 pm

I loved this post, thank you! (Possibly just because it’s enabling my banana addiction, but whatevs…)

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Thanks Aine…and you go eat a banana NOW 🙂

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Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table November 1, 2014 at 6:45 pm

I’m amazing by what people still believe. Learning about smoke points changed my (culinary) life. And bananas… so many people are scared of them but they are so good for you!

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm

In some cases, ignorance is def not bliss!

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Linda @ The Fitty November 1, 2014 at 8:41 pm

Nice point on the smoke point! Coconut oil and lalard also have high smoke points but cook them for to long and it’ll release free radicals. I can tell by the bubbles it forms in the pan so just be careful!

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Khushboo November 2, 2014 at 6:53 pm

Thanks Linda! I feel like cooking oils don’t get nearly enough attention when it comes to our health!

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Cat November 2, 2014 at 11:38 pm

That banana one is a shocker! I feel so bad I’ve been misjudging the squishy yellow fruit… Everyone should be taught these little golden truth nuggets!

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Khushboo November 3, 2014 at 10:50 am

I think many of us initially foster a bad attitude towards bananas because they are made out to be the cause of obesity/diabetes- er NO!

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Melissa @ Mango About Town November 3, 2014 at 2:30 am

Great list! I would also add the myth: Sweet potatoes are better for you than regular potatoes because of the differences in the glycemic index.

This is super important because if you eat the sweet potato without the skin it’s absorbed waaaaaay quicker than if you were to eat it with the skin (similar to white potatoes).

No skin = no fibre = all bad (orange + white)

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Khushboo November 3, 2014 at 10:51 am

You’re so right about potatoes, Melissa! As healthy as sweet potatoes are, regular potatoes (skin on of course) pack in quite a punch too!

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Meghan@CleanEatsFastFeets November 17, 2014 at 5:02 pm

All good information and completely true. I can’t believe people still defend milk as the champion of calcium and yet it happens. The “Got Milk” campaign actually re-elevated the dairy industry and really made people think milk was the end all, be all again.

Thank you for defending my beloved #publicbanana. It gets such a bad rap. I appreciate you taking up for it.

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Khushboo November 18, 2014 at 12:14 pm

I just ate a banana…although it wasn’t so public this time ;)!

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