With new research, sometimes discoveries are made about nutrition that upend popular wisdom without even intending it. Here are five current food myths that haven’t fully dissipated yet.
This has to be the biggest of the food myths still around (at least, in America). Many doctors and nutritionists haven’t seemed to have yet caught up with the evidence that sodium has little to no effect on your health. In a study performed quite a time ago, but recently dug up, on longevity of persons on different diets it was found that there was actually a slightly positive (but statistically insignificant) impact of high sodium consumption on the subjects’ health.
This isn’t to suggest that one go chug sea water to provide oneself maximum benefits. This only means that, if something is considered consumable and it has a lot of sodium, it shouldn’t be a turn off or deciding factor in whether or not you eat it. There are reasons enough to avoid processed foods, but sodium is no longer a reason for that.
A common myth about sugar is that there are different kinds and that each kind can have more or less of an adverse effect on health. Some examples are those who say corn syrup, regular cane sugar and sugars naturally found in fruits all have a different effect on your body. This is actually not the case.
While it is true that fruits have fiber and other nutrients which will positively affect health, the sugars themselves have the same effect from natural fruits as does corn syrup or cane sugar. So, reaching for that pulp free orange juice that’s stripped of nutrients can be the same as reaching for a fizzy soda if it has the same amount of sugar.
Saturated fats has to be the second most popular of the food myths, still surviving to this day. One can easily tell this is the case because if you go to the shopping mart, you’ll see products that advertise themselves as having less or more fat. The effect of this myth has been increased weight gain because fats act as a signal of satiety for our bodies. If one eats a 1% milkfat yogurt, there’s a lot more potential to consume calories in that than in the whole milk variant.
Now, it is only saturated fats that have had an unnecessarily bad PR campaign against it. Fat itself, and its intake, is still an issue. Trans fats from anything ‘hydrogenated’ or ‘margarine’ are still dangerous to your health. However, now foodstuffs dense in saturated fats are vindicated, like butter! (Which just so happens to be one of what I call the budgetary super foods)
New research has found MSG does not actually have any sort of bad effects. MSG’s known use is to amplify (but not provide) a food’s ‘umami’ flavor, making it difficult to notice on foods without meat. MSG is commonly associated with Chinese and fast food, which might explain why it has persisted for so long as a food myth. After all, fast food has trans fats and Chinese food has lots of sodium in America (of which the latter isn’t a problem anymore!)
All this translates to, for us, is that we can have space for it on our spice racks and a dash of it in our foods.
Gluten has gotten a lot more attention in the past decade, arising from awareness of gluten intolerance. As such, some people have mistaken gluten as always being a bad thing. Gluten intolerance is the result of what’s called Celiac Disease, and it occurs when the lining of the small intestine is flattened.
The key thing: you do not need to eat gluten free foods if you do not have Celiac Disease; and no research has been done yet to justify those without the disease believing that they have or will have any adverse health effects from it. If you want to be sure, then ask a health professional. That, of course, goes for all the advice I’ve given here. Nutrition is an evolving field and not everyone reacts or benefits the same from different foods