Five Persistent Food Myths, Dispelled

Recently the ongoing debate about eating eggs went another round. Under my “would your grandmother recognize it as food” theory of eating, I’ve always considered eggs to be a healthy part of your diet. Then the eck-spurts came along and told us eggs are bad, too much cholesterol don’tcha know? Then more eck-spurts came along and told us that it was HDL (good) cholesterol, so eggs were good. Then even more eck-spurts came along to tell us, no, too much HDL, eggs are bad. And the latest I heard was that the increase in cholesterol is so small as to not matter, so eggs are good again.

In honour of the latest change in the eck-spurts’ recommendations regarding eggs, and in honour of my dear departed Grannie being right, yet again, let’s dispel five food myths.

1.Eggs are bad.

See above. Basically, eggs are chicken seeds, containin everything an animal needs to grow from fertilization into a viable healthy animal. They’re a complete protein, a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, contain a multitude of vitamins (including B, C, D and E) and contrary to the spurting of the ecks-spurts, can actually lower your cholesterol. Source.

2. A calorie is a calorie.

One of the persistent, pervading myths of the diet industry is that all you need to do is count calories; that a calorie is a calorie, is a calorie. No, just no. If that were true, 100 calories of   doughnut would be no different than 100 calories of fruit, veggies or eggs. Do you believe that to be true? Yeah, no one does, so why does the myth persist? I can’t answer that, but one of the better reads on the subject is Gary Taubes Good Calories, Bad Calories.

3. Fat makes you fat.

Back in my youth there was a woman who made herself famous on the late night infomercials, jumping around in hot pink spandex and shouting, “Fat makes you fat.” Again, no. Gary Taubes wrote about this, and now we have the Atkins Diet, the Keto craze and more. Basically, fat helps to fill you, and keep you feeling full so you don’t need to eat as soon.

Beyond that, there are good fats and bad fats. The short version; saturated fats and trans fats = bad, mono and poly-unsaturated fats = good. The long version can be found here.

4. All carbs are bad.

In the mid 70s, the eck-spurts told us to stop eating fat and protein and get most of our calories from cereals and grains, leading to an explosion in diabetes and obesity. In response to this, Atkins told us to cut all carbs from our diets and only eat meat and fat. The truth lies somewhere in between.

Carbs come from plants. Plant also contain fibre, and we need fibre for heart health, colon healthy and to help with weight control. So, what carbs should you eat? Basically, the less refined, the better. Think whole grains, fruits and vegetables.

5. Organic is healthier

Somewhere along the way we got roped into thinking that organic is healthier. That organically grown produce was nutritionally superior. Fortunately Stanford University was good enough to study this one for us and found out that there is “Little evidence of health benefits from organic foods.” Basically, the nutritional content is pretty much the same.

Then there’s the claim, “Yes, but pesticide free.” Yeahhhhh, no. Synthetic pesticide free, and that’s a key distinction. Organic farmers use natural pesticides, which generally are less effective than the synthetic ones, so they use more. Better, the organic pesticides are less regulated than the synthetic ones, so we know less about them, their usage levels, and their toxicology. Best, the ones we have studied are just as toxic as the synthetic ones.

Okay, so they’re not more nutritious, and they use more pesticides, but at least the organic produce is smaller, and it costs more. Save your money.