Dispelling Food Myths


Eating healthy in this modern age can be very confusing. The internet is both a wealth of great and terrible information which only adds to this confusion. To simplify things, here are some of the myths that hopefully after reading this article will no longer have you fooled.

Skim Milk Makes you Slim
Do you know what farmers feed pigs to fatten them up quick? Skim milk! So it is pretty strange that we have looked towards low fat and nonfat dairy for slimmer waist lines. In fact scientist for years have known that this has not been the case. In a review of 25 studies looking at weight and dairy consumption, 18 reported lower body weights, less weight gain, or a lower risk for obesity among full-fat dairy eaters. Although it is true that full fat dairy is higher in calories, it seems that the fats in dairy may be acting on our liver and muscle cells to improve the break down of sugars as well as making us feel fuller sooner and longer decreasing the amount we eat later on. In addition, some research has found that people who consume full-fat dairy were 46% less likely to develop diabetes in comparison to consumers of low fat and non fat dairy eaters. Even if weight loss is not a concern, it should be noted that non-fat and low fat dairy contains a greater percentage of androgens (aka male hormones) than full fat milk which can lead to acne and fertility problems.

Avocado is a Protein
For some reason many of my patients have been under the misconception that avocado is a substitute for protein. This is not to say that an avocados aren't beautiful additions to a healthy diet as they are a wonderful source of vitamin e, potassium and cholesterol reducing plant sterols. However, as protein goes they only have about 1g per serving in comparison with 25g for chicken or 16g for tempeh. Other "meat" substitutes such as portabello mushrooms and the rising vegan star, jackfruit, are also weak protein sources even though they do provide fiber and other nutrients. If getting enough protein is still confusing, for my helpful guide.

Green Juices are the Holy Grail of Health Drinks
Perhaps you've been dropping sometimes as much $15 a day for a bottle of green juice, but it might have not been the health investment you've bargained for. Yes, it is true that dark leafy green vegetables like kale, collards, and spinach are excellent sources of minerals, vitamins, and fiber while being relatively low in calories. However in their raw naked form, they do contain substances that counteract most of these health benefits. For example, many greens such as kale are goitrogens meaning when they are consumed raw, they can interfere with thyroid hormone synthesis leading to hypothyroid. Greens also need oil so we can absorb Vitamin A, a fat soluble vitamin. Without the addition of acids like vinegar or lemon juice, the oxalates in greens can interfere with mineral absorption and even lead to kidney stones and bladder irritation in some individuals. To get the most benefit from these vegetables rather juicing them is to lightly cook them with a little oil and lemon or vinegar. Another caution is that because green juices tend to be blended with fruit they can also have a high sugar content without much fiber which can cause blood sugar instability and interfere with immune function.

Eggs are "No Go" for Heart Disease
Perhaps you have been avoiding eggs because they are high in cholesterol and/or you are afraid of heart disease. You might want to rethink this fear as one study in the journal, Food Chemistry, in fact showed a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease. This may be due to the high antioxidant content of eggs. Eggs have even been shown to help lower blood pressure. In regards to cholesterol, several studies have found that individuals who consume moderate (4-6) amounts of eggs are not observed to have increases in cholesterol when compared to individuals who cut eggs out of their diets entirely. What is even more interesting even with the high cholesterol content of eggs their consumption causes very minimal change in LDL (aka bad cholesterol) levels. The main culprit in elevating cholesterol is actually not dietary cholesterol but saturated fat, which if you skip the side of bacon, eggs don't contain very much.