A country song once declared, “It’s easier to sell a lie than it is to tell the truth.” That’s how I feel about nutrition education sometimes. There seems to be more misinformation about nutrition today than ever before. Here are some interesting nutrition myths you may have heard before.
- Celery has negative calories because it takes more calories to digest than the calories contained in it. While celery is low in calories, there is no such thing as a negative calorie food. The calories needed to digest a portion of food are not subtracted from the calories in the food.
- Certain 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’s the amount of a particular food that can become a problem. If you eat potato chips every day, it’s not good for you. We need to move away from 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 percent believe sea salt is a lower-sodium alternative to table salt. Both sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium, about 40 percent by weight. The bottom line is that there is no nutritional advantage to choosing sea salt over table salt.
- Butter is better for you than margarine. Margarine used to contain trans fats, but these are no longer used in the US. Butter is an animal product that contains saturated fat. A diet high in saturated fat increases cholesterol and increases the risk of heart disease. Choose margarine.
- Cheese causes constipation. This folklore has been passed down for generations. Although I’ve only found one study on the subject, cheese hasn’t been shown to affect the gut habits of those who ate it versus those who didn’t. 
- Certain foods increase your metabolism. Research shows that while certain foods may have a minor effect on your metabolism, it’s not enough to affect weight loss.
- Certain foods help remove 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, the fat under the skin.  Claims that certain foods reduce belly fat are often the same claims for overall weight loss. When it comes to losing weight, you simply cannot “reduce selectively”.
Until next time, stay healthy!
Mykkanen, HM, et al. Effect of cheese on intestinal transit time and other indicators of intestinal function in nursing home residents. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1994 Jan;29(1):29-32.
Hairston, Kristen G., et al. Lifestyle Factors and 5-Year Belly Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort: The IRAS Family Study. obesity, February 2012; 20(2):421-7.
Leanne McCrate, RDN, LD, also known as Dear Dietitian, is an award-winning nutritionist from Missouri. Their mission is to educate consumers about healthy, science-based nutrition. Email her today at [email protected] Dear Nutritionist does not endorse any product, health program or diet plan.