Can you think of a time you accepted something you heard as truth, only to find out months or years later it’s not true at all? Just about all of us can. And when it comes to the world of diet and nutrition, even conventional wisdom isn’t always sound. Here are some widely circulated nutrition “rules” that have been thoroughly debunked. Spread the word.
1. Carbs make you fat
According to the USDA’s Dietary Guidelines, 45 to 65 percent of our caloric intake should come from carbohydrates. Unfortunately, this does not mean you should gorge on bread, pasta, and cake at every meal. Fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains are the healthiest sources of carbohydrates, and should constitute the bulk of carbohydrates in your diet. This is particularly true if you’re trying to shed fat from your body.
2. Coffee is bad for you
If you have high blood pressure and lead a sedentary lifestyle, you have legitimate grounds to steer clear of coffee. If you’re a healthy adult who leads an active lifestyle, however, coffee may actually benefit your health. At least one reliable, long-term study suggests that drinking coffee may reduce one’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
3. Eat less, more often, to lose weight
Ever since Angelina Jolie opened up about her preference for frequent snacking over thrice-daily eating, the myth that eating several small meals a day is a weight-loss hack has been widespread. Eating six or seven smaller meals will not speed up your metabolism. Nor will it lead to miraculous weight loss. The total amount of calories you eat, and the source of those calories, determines how your body manages its weight.
4. Fruit contains too much sugar
Some fruits are high in sugar. But the nutritional differences between natural and processed sugars are blaring. According to registered dietician Alissa Rumsey, the fiber in fruit balances the effects of its sugar on the body, preventing spikes in blood sugar and insulin. Fruits are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. You don’t need to worry about the sugar in fruit giving you a sugar rush or turning into stomach fat.
5. Microwaved food causes cancer
Sure, microwaves emit radiation. So does just about everything. A few years ago, world-leading cancer research organization Cancer Research UK declared it is perfectly safe to heat food in microwaves. Your leftovers may be slightly less nutritious after they’re reheated, but they won’t be radioactive.
6. Vegans struggle to get enough protein
If you’ve heard it’s difficult for vegans and vegetarians to meet nutritionists’ protein recommendations, you’re in good company. Thankfully for those who choose not to eat meat or animal products, this is a myth. Whole grains, spinach, nuts, legumes, and other high-protein foods can easily provide a vegan with all the protein he or she needs. And there’s no need for a vegan to eat excessive amounts of any of these foods. The human body can only synthesize about 30 grams of protein per sitting, and only one in ten calories one consumes should come from protein anyway. The most important protein rule for vegans (and non-vegans) to be cognizant of is that protein should be consumed throughout the day. Trying to load up on protein with one tempeh-rich (or beef-rich, for that matter) meal won’t work.
7. Vitamin C cures colds
If you’ve made it this far without having a single nutrition conceptions flipped on its head, let’s try one more. There is no hard evidence that Vitamin C treats, or speeds up the healing process for, the common cold. This doesn’t mean your body isn’t served by Vitamin C you consume while under the weather (Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron and metabolize protein). Just don’t count on that Emergen-C to speed up your recovery on its own.
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