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Food Facts vs Food Myths

Updated on September 22, 2012
The whole food truth poster.
The whole food truth poster. | Source

I don't know about you, but I am fed up with all of the myths and tricks surrounding food, and just how much of it we should eat. Diets, fitness, health concerns, cholesterol, carbohydrates, red meat, bottled water and the list of ingredients we consume (or avoid consuming) goes on and on. I want the Whole Food Truth!

Should we avoid fruit when dieting? Should we be drinking bottled water instead of tap? Do we need to put down our coffee cup for good? Do drugs like Relacore really block cortisol? How does dietary fat really impact testosterone? It all simply gets to be much too much to keep track of. Because of this frustration, I have done a ton of research on the topic of food myths and food facts over the past year. Today I will be offering the results of this research and uncovering some of the myths surrounding the food we should, or should not, be consuming!

"Food Facts" vs "Food Myths"

Should eating fruit be avoided when dieting?

  • Actually, fruit is highly recommended for those who are dieting. Fruit is low in calories, nutrient rich, has great fiber content, and can be quite filling (like apples for instance). A bonus food fact for dieters who eat fruits is that fruits can curb the craving for sweets in most people.

Should tap water be substituted with bottled water for safety reasons?

  • Truthfully, the biggest advantage of bottled water is that it is pretty convenient. Some may consider bottled water more pure or better filtered, but the tons of research and scientific testing suggest that tap water is just as safe as bottled water. The Food Fact is that some studies have shown increased bacterial counts in bottled water, while others say the bottle water is still more pure than tap water could ever think to be. The kicker here is this: In clean water blind taste tests, no difference in taste could be detected. (On a side note- if your water source is a private well, be sure have the water tested regularly and after floods, earthquakes, or other natural disasters. A crack or contamination at the water line has occurred in these situations.)

Are White Potatoes Less Nutritious Than Sweet Potatoes?

Both of these spuds are nutritious, pretty similar in calories, and go well with a variety of foods. The Food Myth that sweet potatoes are better than white potatoes stems from the assumption that white foods are less nutritious than foods that show off their color palette. The table below will show you which beneficial elements can be found in larger concentrations in sweet potatoes and white potatoes.

The following calculations are derived from Girth Control (Alan Aragon, 2007).


Fiber (by 2g) 
Vitamin A 
B vitamins (exept B-6) 
Iron & Magnesium

How to Cook Sweet Potatoes - A quick Video Lesson

Steaming cup of joe
Steaming cup of joe

Should coffee be avoided because it raises insulin levels acutely?

  • Moderate coffee consumption is just fine. Resent studies prove it can even be beneficial for someone with serious health problems. If you get the "jitters" from coffee, it's best to avoid it.

Is dietary fat beneficial to testosterone levels?

  • Most research agrees that dietary fat increases total testosterone levels. Does this translate to a healthier state? The food fact is that slightly elevated levels may have health benefits. Avoid super high levels over long periods of time though, as this can diminish health significantly.

The Grapefruit is said to speed up fat loss—is this true?

  • Many competitive bodybuilders won't eat any fruit other than grapefruit. They are convinced that only grapefruit has special fat-burning properties. Even as grapefruit is a very nutritious food source, the fat burning thing is a total food myth. The food fact is that it's really no better at causing fat loss than any other fruit.

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Does the cortisol blocker Relacore, and others like it, really cause superior weight loss?

  • Not a chance. Like most of the supplements advertised these days, the food facts are rarely mentioned, while the food myths are over hyped. The success of this kind of product can be attributed to the new age marketing rhetoric that appeals to the emotional nature of those people who are desperate to find an easy weight loss answer. The important food fact here is that only reduced caloric intake will have such an outcome, easy or not.

Should dairy be avoided when trying to lose weight?

  • Dairy products are super good food that is high in nutrition, which make and maintain strong bones and muscles. The food fact is that an average serving of dairy contains 80 to 150 calories. If you are trying to lose weight, choose low-fat dairy foods, these are significantly lower in calories. Excluding them all together is not necessary unless you have an allergic response to dairy.

Relacore pill image

Con Dam Spillway - Rutherford, Ca.
Con Dam Spillway - Rutherford, Ca. | Source

Should 8 glasses of water really be consumed on a daily bases?

  • Drinking large amounts of water is a good idea for helping to prevent certain diseases, like kidney stones, or If you experience strenuous physical activity, or if you are in very hot weather. Most people are getting enough water, and in some instances even too much. The food fact here is that drinking too much water can be harmful to your health. Intoxication can occur if the kidneys are unable to expel enough water (as urine).
  • Deadly situations have happened during "hell week" for college frat induction, dorm parties, and as punishment on freshmen students. Also, this water intoxication has happened to athletes, and rave party attendees. This condition has lead to mental confusion and has caused death in a number of cases.
  • Hyponatremia is what occurs when the extra water reduces the percentage of salt and other important minerals in your body. When excess water is consumed, the amount of these minerals gets washed away, and since the body requires a balance of these things to operate properly, without them, it will surely fail.

How Much Water to Drink Daily

Measuring chart for human water consumption: how much water should you drink each day?
Measuring chart for human water consumption: how much water should you drink each day? | Source

Food Facts on Condiments and Alcohol (and that evening snack)

Is it okay to eat in the evening if trying to lose some extra pounds?

  • Most of the the time the prevailing myth that eating in the evening is going to add additional pounds is treated as fact. Any really good diet plan (those designed by nutrition experts, not the "gotta be super skinny" fanatics) will have an evening meal within the diet, (often the largest meal of the day). If this late evening meal stays within the caloric budget, it's not going to affect weight loss. It's all about how many calories you expend when it come to daily calorie maintenance. The food fact is this; the time of day you consume your food has minimum impact on caloric expenditure.

Red wines offer's a ton of antioxidants. Can we get too many in our diets?  Wine bottle with designer candle.
Red wines offer's a ton of antioxidants. Can we get too many in our diets? Wine bottle with designer candle. | Source

How Much Do You Know About Your Diet?

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Will drinking alcohol really make you fat?

  • You will find both obese people and thin people who drink on a frequent basis. The difference is that the obese people who drink also eat too much food. As long as you calculate in the calories when you have a drink (when dieting) things will be just fine. But, be careful to maintain your awareness regarding the many social and health risks of having too much alcohol

Antioxidants are good for my health, right?

  • In moderation antioxidants are very good for our health. When managing a healthy diet with fruits, whole grains, vegetables, seeds and nuts, your antioxidant levels are probably right on. If you are lacking antioxidants in your diet, take antioxidant supplements. The food fact is that you need to be cautious not to go overboard when taking these supplements; unnaturally high amounts of antioxidants can actually be harmful. Most people are not aware of this but, oxidation is a natural chemical process that occurs in our bodies, and this process is required for life.

Just how bad is sodium for my health?

  • The Food Fact here: For the general public, restricting salt intake is not advised. If trying to reduce your salt intake, choose foods that are low in salt, eat fewer high-sodium foods, and when shaking salt on your food, reduce the number of pumps. Using sea salt or Kosher salt offer their own benefits in saltiness and flavor.
  • Some people who are hypertensive find that the reduction of salt brings down the blood pressure. In others, little or no change takes place. Believe it or not, in yet others, reducing salt intake actually causes an increase in blood pressure. If you are, or think you are hypertensive, you should check with medical professionals regarding sodium intake.

Sucralose is an artificial sweetener, is it unhealthy like those in the past?

  • Taking into consideration the vast amount of research conducted on sucralose, it appears that it is indeed safe to consume. Splenda is an excellent sugar substitute (happens to be my favorite) and has less than 2 calories per teaspoon—regular sugar has 16 calories per teaspoon.

  • Aspartame is another sugar substitute the FDA says is "one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved." They go on to say, "the more than 100 toxicological and clinical studies it has reviewed confirm that aspartame is safe for the general population." Most of the scientific information would agree that aspartame is safe when consumed responsibly as a non-nutritive sweetener. Some of the "not general population" has reported lupus-like symptoms when using large amounts of the artificial sweetener which shows up in many sugar-free soft drinks and foods.


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