Ask the Experts: Myth Busters!

by in Ask the Experts, October 2, 2012

nutrition label
Dietitians are always trying to dispel the obscene amount of nutrition myths floating out in the world. We asked nutrition experts around the country about their favorite (or rather, least favorite!) nutrition myths and how they set the record straight.

MYTH #1: Organic foods are more nutritious
BUSTEDBonnie Tandy Leblang, MS, RD clears this issue up by saying:

“In terms of vitamins and minerals, organic foods are generally no more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.  Organic refers to the way the food is grown, handled and processed — that is without the use of pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, hormones or, in the case of milk and meat, steroids.”

Shopping for Organic Produce? Use the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen

MYTH #2: Eggs are bad for you
BUSTED: Janice Newell Bissex, MS, RD co-founder explains:
“Eggs are a nutrient dense food (especially the egg yolk) providing important nutrients like protein, vitamin E, vitamin D, choline, lutein and omega-3 fats.”

Healthy Eats votes for eggs too, whites and yolks

MYTH #3: Eat fat-free foods to lose weight
BUSTED: Nutrition Babes Lauren Harris-Pincus, MS, RD and Kathy Siegel, RD, CDN instruct their clients by saying:

“Healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocados, fish, nuts and seeds are an important part of a healthy diet. Fat-free foods are usually highly processed and filled with chemicals to help them mimic the flavor of their full fat counterparts.”

Labels can be tricky, beware of the Healthy Halo

MYTH #4: Milk causes mucus
BUSTED: Karen Giles-Smith, MS RD takes a scientific approach:

“According to a recent research review in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, there is no conclusive evidence that consuming milk increases mucus production and aggravates the congestion of colds, allergies, or asthma. It may be that the protein and/or fat in milk temporarily “coats” the throat, leading to a perception of mucus accumulation.”

Get all the facts! Milk: Good or Bad?

MYTH #5:  Gluten free is a weight loss diet
BUSTED: Rachel Begun, MS, RD says it’s all about choices:

“If eating gluten free means replacing highly processed foods with nutrient-dense foods, taking in the proper amount of calories and getting regular exercise, then you can lose weight on a gluten-free diet.  If gluten free means eating mostly highly processed, empty-calorie, gluten-free foods, then you aren’t likely to lose weight.  For those who don’t have a gluten related disorder, it’s important to make the distinction between removing gluten and making smarter choices.  It’s the latter that leads to lead weight loss.”

See our list of gluten free dos and don’ts

Tell Us: What’s YOUR favorite nutrition myth?

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Comments (497)

  1. Great post! Full of fantastic nutrition facts straight from the experts!

  2. Amy says:

    Nice … Spot on !

  3. Appreciate you sourcing your 'myth busters' from among the ranks of registered dietitians! Well done!

  4. Amy says:

    I generally purchase a mix of organic and conventionally grown produce for my family. The organic food mostly from the "dirty dozen" list. I do not purchase organic foods because they are more nutritious, I purchase them because I am trying to avoid pesticides and residues in my family's food. If we are trying to eat "real" food then avoiding harmful chemicals is a good thing.

  5. Laura says:

    My pet peeve is all of the "100 calorie" packs. with all of the additives and artificial ingredients, you're much better eating just a bit of the "real" thing or making your own healthier version at home.

  6. Kate says:

    Organic grown foods ARE MORE NUTRITIOUS because the soil they are grown in must be a much higher level of available vitamins and minerals in order to produce. Conventional foods are grown in soil which does not have the high levels and the plants are given very high doses of chemical fertilizers to mimic what would be found naturally in good soil. So it is NOT TRUE that it is a Myth that Organic foods are not more nutritious – THEY ABSOLUTELY ARE! Ask any Organic Farmer and they will prove it to you, or grow organic yourself and you will find out the TRUTH. SHAME ON FOOD NETWORK FOR POSTING THESE LIES THAT BENEFIT ONLY CORPORATE AGRICULTURE AND THE POISONING OF PEOPLE.

    • Will says:

      Vitamins in the soil??? Plants make vitamins; they don't ingest them. The statements made by the dieticians are based on chemical analysis of both "organic" and conventionally grown foods. They havent addressed the pesticide issue. That's another issue completely.

  7. Heather says:

    I agree with Kate. Non-organic foods are inferior and in some cases, dangerous. My sister was diagnosed with leukemia at age 3 because of a pesticide that was used on apple orchards at the time. So even if it were true that vitamin and mineral content were the same between organic and non-organic, I'm going to feed to my baby organic food so that she has a lower chance of getting cancer. I echo Kate: SHAME ON FOOD NETWORK FOR POSTING THESE LIES THAT BENEFIT ONLY CORPORATE AGRICULTURE AND THE POISONING OF PEOPLE. Please watch a film called, "Food, Inc."

  8. Cindy says:

    They did not post lies! They stated the truth that the vitamins and minerals found in the fruits and vegetables themselves isn't any different. You have every right to chose organic if that is what you wish but many people out there can't afford the much higher price of organic foods. I would much rather see people choose to eat healthy fresh fruits and vegetables than avoid them because people like you act like they are TERRIBLE!! That you should not ingest them if they aren't ORGANIC!! EATING HEALTHY FOOD DOES NOT MEAN EATING ORGANIC!!

  9. Adam says:

    I would absolutely disagree that organically grown foods are not more nutritious. There are several studies showing that organic foods tend to be higher in nutrients than conventionally grown foods. Now this isn’t to say that conventionally grown foods aren’t nutritious as well or should be completely avoided. If you can’t afford all organic or can’t find all organic, then yes, of course go for what you can get. Conventional fruits and vegetables are better than none at all.

    I would also completely disagree that eggs are not bad for you, as well as milk not causing problems. Eggs are extremely high in cholesterol as well as saturated fat from the yolks. Dietary cholesterol doesn’t affect your blood cholesterol to the degree once thought, but it is still a concern and can have other negative health affects.

    The same goes for dairy, which is full of saturated fat, and even if you choose low or no fat, it still contains cholesterol as do all animal products, and is also high in acid-forming and inflammation-causing animal protein. Both of which are major disease causing factors. The. high acid also affects your bones, as a high level of acid in the blood is buffered by our bodies leaching calcium from our bones to combat it. It can also contribute to cancer, kidney disease and many other illnesses. And this is all to say nothing of the contaminants in these products. The hormones (whether organic or not), antibiotics, pesticides, bacteria, etc.

    The more we focus on whole, plant based foods the better off we will be. Not only is it better for our bodies, it has a huge impact on the health of our planet and the animals we are no longer mistreating.

  10. Seba says:

    Cindy, health is priceless. So spending a little extra on food that won't harm you, as opposed to food that might, is a good investment for your health, in my opinion.

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