Don't Be Fooled by Food Myths

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By News Team on February 10, 2020

Are eggs bad for you? Should you avoid nuts? These and other food myths ought to be tossed out with yesterday’s leftovers.

No one knows why so many food myths linger, but Carilion Clinic's Nutrition team hears them every day when talking to patients.

Our vice chair of Family Medicine, Christopher Mertes, M.D., weighs in on the best way to approach foods in a way that will protect your heart. Watch his video and then check out the mythbusting that follows!

Myth 1: Avoid carbs.
Carbohydrates are fuel your body needs. The key is to stick to complex carbohydrates, which break down more slowly and tend to have more nutrients, rather than white bread, white rice and other simple carbohydrates, which your body treats like sugar.

Choose fruits and vegetables, including starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes and beans. They are all good sources of vitamins, minerals and dietary fiber.

Myth 2: Snacking is not good for you.
The real problem with snacking has a lot to do with our mindset around what is considered a snack.

People tend to think of snacks as chips, sweets and other empty-calorie foods. But a snack of yogurt and an apple, or a handful of fresh nuts, can help control hunger and make you feel energetic.

Myth 3: Eggs aren’t healthy.
As with carbs, our team says the real problem with eggs is the white-flour biscuits and gravy that accompany them, not to mention the bacon or sausage on the side.

Eggs themselves are loaded with protein and go well with whole-wheat toast and a lean piece of meat.
Myth 4: “Fat free,” “no cholesterol” and “no trans fat” foods are good for you.
These buzzwords lead people to think a product is healthy, but they can be misleading.

Check the sugar (and sugar substitute) content on "fat-free" products, and check the sodium content on "no trans fat" labels. Stick to whole foods and you can skip all the processing that introduces confusion.

Myth 5: Bottled juice is great for you.
It’s made from fruits and vegetables, but bottled juice usually has no fiber. Instead of juice, reach for a whole fruit or vegetable, which has fiber and more nutrients. It will also help fill you up, unlike juice.

Myth 6: Red meat is bad for you.
As Dr. Mertes notes above, red meat can be a part of a healthy diet if you eat it in moderation. Alternate it with skinless chicken, salmon and other fish filets, and meat-free meals to keep a balance and not feel deprived. 

Health guidelines are sure to continue to evolve, but eating real food—as opposed to packaged and highly processed ones—is always better for you. And often, enjoying a little of something fresh and delicious can go a long way.
This article was reviewed by Carilion Clinic's Dining and Nutrition Services team.