Five myths about nutrition

Nutrition is undoubtedly one of the topics where you can quickly get confused. With so much information, new trends and diets online each week, it is tough to know what to believe or follow. Nutrition advice, in particular, can be hard to follow because everyone got different opinions and values about food, lifestyle and diets. Still, perhaps the most significant influence is the food industry, which tricks us into buying more products, believing that healthy food is bad for us or misleading the food labels to confuse us and earn more money.

I hope this article helps you understand some of the most common myths.

Let’s get started!

1. Margarine is healthier than butter

Butter is a dairy product made of milk or cream’s fat and protein components. It is high in saturated fats and calories but contains calcium, phosphorus, vitamins A, D, E, and proteins. Margarine looks and tastes very similar to butter; it has fewer calories and saturated fats, so it can look like a good option for those who want to reduce calories or dairy products from their diet, right? But it is NOT!

What is the problem with margarine? To start with, margarine is NOT food and lacks any nutritional value. Margarine is made of vegetable oils, such as soybean, sunflower, or canola, extracted from various seeds. Unfortunately, many of these crops are genetically modified organisms and are usually heavily treated with pesticides. The main problem is that margarine products contain large amounts of damaging trans fats that are human-made during hydrogenation (to turn liquid vegetable oils into solid fats to create the same consistency as butter). Trans fats lower good cholesterol and higher bad cholesterol, increasing the risk of coronary diseases.

Butter Margarine
Completely naturalProcessed
One ingredient Many ingredients
Essential vitamins and minerals Cero nutrients

The bottom line:

Be aware of what you are eating, and read the labels! Butter in small amounts is not a problem! Please opt for organic grass-fed options only. If you don’t like butter or are lactose intolerant, try ghee or different oils such as olive or avocado, and stay away from margarine FOREVER.

2. Salt is unhealthy

Salt is composed of two minerals called sodium and chloride. Salt is essential for life, and saltiness is one of the basic human tastes, and we need it to replace what we lose through sweat and urination every day. So, from where comes the myth that salt is bad for you? One study, “The DASH-Sodium study”, showed the relationship between high blood pressure and consuming sodium. But, if you look closely at the study, the participants consume less sugar in their diets, which is perhaps why the lower blood pressure is lower.

Here are some of the functions and benefits of salt:

-Sodium and chloride ions play an essential role in the nervous system.
-Chloride ions provided by salt are secreted in the gastric juice as hydrochloric acid (HCL), which destroys microbes, digests proteins, absorbs minerals, and is crucial for the digestion of food.
-Sodium is essential for regulating your heart function.

The bottom line:

As with everything in life, it is all about balance. Too much salt can be bad for you, as too little of it can be. While most people have no reason to restrict salt, there are a few health conditions in which lower salt consumption may be necessary. So, what type of salt is the best? Compared to the salt mined from oceans laden with persistent organic pollutants and microparticles of plastic, Himalayan salt is your best option when you want to reduce your toxic load.

3. Fat makes you fat

This is a big one! Usually, what people associate with fat isn’t healthy fats such as avocado or olive oil. Instead, they confuse fat itself with the junk food associated with it and blame fat when they should be blaming sugar, refined grains, and all the other harmful chemicals that go into a Big Mac. So, fat indeed has more calories per gram than protein or carbs. But for most people (with the notable exception of the long-term obese), this means that fat is more satiating than protein or carbs: the consumption of fats helps with satiation helping us feel fuller and quicker, and cutting back on the consumption of calories.

Unfortunately, the system breaks down when fat intake comes from hyper-processed junk food. Junk food is specifically designed to be addictive, overriding that natural feeling of fullness to make you keep eating. But there’s no evidence for this myth if you’re talking about naturally occurring fat from whole foods.

The bottom line:

A low-fat diet does not work because we replace all fats with additional carbohydrates and simple sugars. Also, if we eliminate all fats from our diet, we eliminate bad and good fats. Therefore, it is not the amount of fat in your diet that matters most, but the type of fat and the overall amount of food you consume!

4. Eggs and cholesterol

The myth that cholesterol causes heart disease has scared many of us from eating eggs regularly. Although some studies have found a link between eating eggs and heart disease, there may be other reasons for these findings. For example, the foods we typically eat along with eggs, such as refined carbohydrates, refined oils or sugar, may boost heart disease risk more than eggs.

There’s no evidence to support the idea that eggs raise bad cholesterol; they can increase your good cholesterol, which isn’t bad for your heart. Cholesterol is often viewed as “bad” because it is linked with heart diseases, but cholesterol plays a crucial role and function in our bodies.

Cholesterol is essential for life. Its primary function is to maintain the integrity and fluidity of cell membranes and serve as a precursor for synthesising substances that are vital for the organism, including steroid hormones, bile acids, and vitamin D. It is certain that cholesterol is required in the body for many functions and that most evidence suggests that dietary cholesterol alone, in the presence of a healthy diet, does not negatively affect blood lipids (1)

The bottom line:

Eggs, indeed, are one of nature’s superfoods! One egg provides 13 essential nutrients in the yolk (contrary to popular belief, the yolk is far higher in nutrients than the white). Therefore, consuming eggs would provide a better boost to your health and protection against disease than a multivitamin supplement. Please always opt for pasture-raised organic eggs. 

5. Artificial sweeteners are better than the alternative

Artificial sweeteners are popular among anyone trying to lose weight. They lack nutrient value and calories, make you feel fuller for a long time, are cheap, and even taste pretty good. The bad news is that artificial sweeteners do not necessarily lead to weight loss. They may do the opposite precisely because they are sweet and encourage sugar cravings and dependence. Furthermore, they are not free from side effects.

In most people, side effects include digestive issues such as bloating, gas, and headaches. One of the most famous side effects is linked to cancer, but based on the current evidence, artificial sweeteners are unlikely to increase cancer risk in humans. Another negative side effect includes the disruption of the balance of gut bacteria (2). But, as we saw in the article- -what happens in your gut doesn’t stay in your gut.

The bottom line:

Even though artificial sweeteners are safe and well-tolerated by most people, I strongly recommend using small amounts of natural sweeteners such as honey, coconut sugar or monk fruit when possible. Of course, consuming artificial sugars once in a while won’t kill you, so please be realistic and find what works for you in the long term, which in the end, is the most important.