Eat Well to Be Well:Learn the truth about 5 food myths – Osage County Online | Osage County News

Eat Well to Be Well:Learn the truth about 5 food myths

Discerning between food truths and food myths is really hard sometimes. From excellent nutrition advice to extremely bad to downright dangerous nutrition advice, what’s a consumer to do? Since all of us have to eat and all of us are consumers of food, knowing the truth of how to follow a healthy, nutritious diet can get lost in the shuffle of nutrition myths – which have grown exponentially over the years.

Unfortunately, there will be those who, without any nutrition degrees or backing of science, feel compelled to enlighten us on their opinion on what a healthy diet should be. But don’t be swayed. Here are some common diet and food myths you deserve to know the truth behind the tale:

Nutrition myth: Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs

This nutrition myth has been around since the debate of which came first – the chicken or the egg. The color of the egg shell is based on the type of hen that laid the egg, without affecting the quality or nutritional value of the eggs. Brown eggs tend to be larger in size than white eggs and usually cost more to produce, which is often the reason for their higher price tag.

The nutritional content is the same on the inside, whether the color of the shell is white or brown. In fact, all eggs of any color are an excellent source of protein and lutein. Eggs are perfect for providing satiety, so eating one or two eggs every day can be part of a healthy diet for most people.

Nutrition myth: Sea salt is healthier for you than regular or table salt

Sea salt is often promoted as being healthier than table salt. Yet both sea salt and table salt have the same basic nutritional value – sea salt provides no health advantage over table salt. Both contain comparable amounts of sodium by weight.

Sea salt is produced through evaporation of ocean water or water from saltwater lakes, usually with little processing. Depending on the water source, this does leave behind certain trace minerals and elements. The minerals add flavor and color to sea salt which also comes in a variety of coarseness levels.

Table salt is typically mined from underground salt deposits. It is more heavily processed to eliminate minerals and usually contains an additive to prevent clumping. Most table salt has added iodine, an essential nutrient that helps maintain a healthy thyroid.

Nutrition myth: Any food that is cholesterol-free is always good for the heart

Having high blood cholesterol levels may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease. Drastically lowering your intake of foods high in cholesterol seems to make sense. But research advises instead to lower intake of foods high in saturated fat and not so much cholesterol, unless you have certain health conditions such as diabetes. Foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are naturally cholesterol-free and are perfectly good and healthy foods to choose from.

But, just because a food or food product is labeled “cholesterol-free,” they can still be high in fats, sodium, sugar and calories. Cholesterol is found only in food of animal origin – egg yolk, beef, chicken, fish, cheese, milk. Foods such as chips, sugary drinks, or donuts contain no cholesterol but should not be consumed on a regular basis due to their sugar, fat, sodium and calorie content.

Nutrition myth: Raw sugar is healthier than white sugar

Truth be known, sugar is sugar no matter what form it comes in. Raw sugar, technically called turbinado sugar, comes from sugarcane. Raw sugar has a darker color than white sugar and the crystals are larger, but both have the same chemical composition – half fructose and half glucose. The main difference between raw sugar and white sugar is the boiling of the cane juice. The juice for refined or white sugar is boiled several times to remove all the molasses, whereas turbinado sugar is boiled only once.

By boiling only one time, the residual molasses gives raw sugar some flavor and texture other than just sweetness like white sugar. But it doesn’t provide any significant nutrition. White sugar and raw sugar are calorically identical. Turbinado sugar does contain calcium, iron, and potassium but in very trace amounts.

Nutrition myth: Organically grown foods are more nutritious than conventionally grown foods

This will always be a contentious debate and there may never be an end to arguments over whether organic foods are more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. Once only found in health food stores, organic foods have flooded grocery stores and are considered here to stay. The word “organic” refers to the way farmers grow and process agricultural products. Farmers who grow organic foods don’t use conventional methods to fertilize and control weeds.

But are organically grown produce nutritionally superior to conventionally grown produce? A 2012 groundbreaking meta-analysis study found little evidence supporting that organically grown foods are more nutritious than conventionally grown foods. The study basically found that nutritionally speaking, organic foods had little extra to offer than conventionally grown foods.

The main reasons to choose organic foods may be to avoid chemicals such as pesticides, and it may help support local and sustainable agriculture. However, even organic foods will have some pesticide residue present. Bottom line, simply eating more produce – organic or conventional – will benefit your health either way.

Keep these five nutrition myths in mind when thinking about how to plan a healthy diet. Remember that not all nutrition advice is based on facts, and your good health is the best reason to discern the truth about the food you eat.

Cheryl Mussatto MS, RD, LD is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in dietetics and nutrition from the University of Kansas, and a bachelor’s degree in dietetics and institutional management from Kansas State University. She is a clinical dietitian for local clinics, an adjunct professor at an area community college where she teaches basic nutrition, and a freelance health and nutrition writer. She is the author of The Nourished Brain: The Latest Science On Food’s Power For Protecting The Brain From Alzheimers and Dementia and The Prediabetes Action Plan and Cookbook. Visit her website at

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