A country song once said, “It’s easier to sell a lie than to tell the truth.” I sometimes have this feeling about nutrition education. There seems to be more misinformation about nutrition than ever before. Here are some interesting nutrition myths you may have heard in the past.
- Celery has negative calories because it takes more calories to digest than the calories it contains. While celery is low in calories, there is no negative calorie food. The calories needed to digest a serving of food are not deducted from the calories in the food.
- Some foods are bad for you. Ben Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy. No food is inherently bad for you. It is the amount of a particular food that can become a problem. If you eat chips every day, it’s not good for you. We need to get out of “black and white” thinking when it comes to food.
- Sea salt is better than table salt. In a survey conducted by the American Heart Association, 61% believe sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to table salt. Sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium, about 40% by weight. Ultimately, there is no nutritional benefit to choosing sea salt over table salt.
- Butter is better for you than margarine. At one time, margarine contained trans fats, but these are no longer used in the United States. Butter is an animal product that contains saturated fat. A diet high in saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, which increases the risk of heart disease. Choose margarine.
- Cheese causes constipation. This folklore has been passed down for generations. Although I found only one study on this topic, it has not been proven that cheese affects the bowel habits of those who eat it compared to those who do not. 
- Certain foods increase your metabolism. Research shows that while certain foods may have minor effects on your metabolism, it’s not enough to affect weight loss.
- Certain Foods Help Lose Belly Fat. One study found that soluble fiber reduced visceral fat, the fat stored in the abdominal cavity. However, it did not reduce subcutaneous fat, fat under the skin.  Claims that certain foods reduce belly fat are often the same claims for overall weight loss. When you’re losing weight, you simply can’t “reduce locally”.
Until next time, be healthy!
Mykkanen, HM, et al. Effect of cheese on bowel transit time and other indicators of bowel function in nursing home residents. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1994 Jan;29(1):29-32.
Hairston, Kristen G., et al. Lifestyle Factors and Abdominal Fat Accumulation Over 5 Years in a Minority Cohort: The IRAS Family Study. Obesity, February 2012; 20(2):421-7.
Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, aka Dear Dietitian, is an award-winning registered dietitian based in Missouri. Its mission is to educate consumers about healthy, science-based nutrition. Email him today at [email protected] Dear Dietitian does not endorse any product, health program or diet.