Food myths and facts

Published 11:49 am Tuesday, August 2, 2022

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One of the main issues within the field of nutrition isn’t that there are not enough details and particulars. On the contrary, there’s actually too much information, and much of it is fable instead of fact. Some of it is just plain false. Today, I’d like to share information on nutrition myths and facts. 


Myth: Figs are fruits. Fact: Figs are actually inflorescences, a collection of small flowers and seeds contained inside a bulbous stem. 

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Myth: High-fat foods are not healthful. Fact: Dietary fat is essential for optimal health. Many high-fat foods are extremely nutritious. Also, low-fat diets have been linked to a greater risk of health issues, including metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that increase the risk for heart disease, stroke, and diabetes), which may lead to an increase in insulin resistance, and triglyceride levels, which are known risk factors for coronary disease. 


Myth: White potatoes are unhealthy. Fact: White potatoes are often restricted by folks trying to lose weight. Eating too much of any food can lead to excess body fat, but white potatoes are highly nutritious and should be included as part of a healthy diet. They are an excellent source of many valuable nutrients, including potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. They’re also more filling than other carbohydrate sources like rice and pasta. White potatoes, especially with their skin, satisfy, and make you feel fuller longer, so they’re great for weight loss. By the way, they are also fat-free. 


Myth: Pistachios and almonds are nuts. Fact: Actually, pistachios, chestnuts, and hazelnuts are fruits, and almonds, walnuts, and cashews are seeds. Peanuts aren’t nuts either. They are legumes, or beans. 


Myth: Sugar-free and fat-free foods are good choices. Fact: Sugar-free foods often have added chemical artificial sweeteners that are not only unhealthful, but by their very nature, these sweeteners are many times sweeter than sugar. The two places in the body that can sense sweetness are the mouth and brain. When you consume artificial sweeteners, your mouth says “this is sweet,” but your brain says “no it’s not,” so your brain is all dressed up with no place to go. That makes you crave sugar even more. Fat-free foods often go through a process that removes all the nutritional fat, which is typically replaced with sugar. 


Myth: Coffee is not healthful. Fact: When the caffeine in coffee is digested, it produces a chemical called paraxanthine, which may help fight liver cancer, cirrhosis, and hepatitis C. Also, coffee is very rich in antioxidants which may fight certain health conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. 


Myth: Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs. Fact: Nutritionally, brown and white eggs are identical, unless the feed has been enhanced. Generally speaking, white eggs come from hens with white feathers, while brown eggs come from laying hens with brown feathers. 


Myth: Store-bought fresh fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than frozen or canned. Fact: Much of the “fresh” produce at your grocers is picked green, then shipped for extended periods of time. However, most major canneries flash freeze or can on-site, thereby preserving the produce’s nutritional value. 


Myth: Eating lots of protein will give you stronger, bigger muscles. Fact: Contrary to popular belief, muscle isn’t mostly protein. It’s 70-75% water. Also, we can’t absorb more than 25-30 grams of protein at one time. Proper resistance training (lifting weights) stimulates muscle strength and growth. However, we do need high-quality protein several times a day, and the highest quality is egg protein (albumin). In fact, in the nutritional community, eggs are referred to as the “gold standard.” 


We’ll continue the list next week. 


David Crocker is a nutritionist and master personal trainer. Question? Email David at, or text to 864-494-6215.