Newsflash: There are a lot of healthy food myths out there. Some aren’t necessarily true, and some are. But which is which?
Here’s how to navigate the sea of food info out there more so you can feel better about enjoying the foods you love.
Take deep-fried foods, for example. They’re universally bad for you, right? Nope.
When experts challenged themselves to explore whether fried foods could be made healthy, they discovered that, when done properly, fried foods don’t have to be forever banished from a healthy diet.
Myth: Sugar is always bad for you.
Wrong. Just use the real thing to ensure that sugar calories are far from “empty” calories. Sugar is essential in the kitchen. Consider all that it does for baking, creating a tender cake crumb and ensuring crisp cookies. Then there’s its role in creating airy meringue or soft-textured ice cream. Keep in mind that other sweeteners like “natural” honey are basically refined sugar anyway—and they are all metabolized by your body the same way, as 4 calories per gram. Sugar also balances the flavors in healthy foods that might not taste so great on their own.
Don’t go overboard, of course. Most health experts suggest that added sugar supply no more than 10 percent of your total calories—about 200 in a 2,000-calorie diet.
Myth: Eating eggs raises your cholesterol levels.
Wrong. Dietary cholesterol found in eggs has little to do with the amount of cholesterol in your body. The confusion can be boiled down to semantics: The same word, “cholesterol,” is used to describe two different things. Dietary cholesterol—the fat-like molecules in animal-based foods like eggs doesn’t greatly affect the amount of cholesterol circulating in your bloodstream. Your body makes its own cholesterol, so it doesn’t need much of the kind you eat.
Instead, what fuels your body’s cholesterol-making machine is certain saturated and trans fats. Eggs contain relatively small amounts of saturated fat. One large egg contains about 1.5 grams saturated fat, a fraction of the amount in the tablespoon of butter many cooks use to cook that egg in. So, cutting eggs out of your diet is a bad idea; they’re a rich source of 13 vitamins and minerals.
The kind of cholesterol found in eggs doesn’t affect the cholesterol in your blood, so go ahead and enjoy eggs for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, guilt-free. In healthy people, “the research with eggs has never shown any link of egg consumption with blood lipids or with risk of heart disease,” says Don Layman, PhD, professor emeritus in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Myth: Egg Yolks Are Unhealthy
If you’ve been restricting your breakfast options to an egg-white omelet, you may be suffering needlessly. Egg yolks do contain more fat and cholesterol than egg whites, but studies over the last few decades have shown that a) not all fat is bad for you; and b) consuming foods high in cholesterol does not necessarily translate to having higher blood cholesterol, although there are still groups, especially diabetics and those with heart disease, who are recommended to abstain. Still not sure if yolks are safe for you? Talk to your doctor.
Myth: All Eggs Need To Be Refrigerated
Wrong. Refrigeration requirements depend on one surprising factor: where you are in the world. American eggs should all be kept cold, while eggs in other countries can sit out on the counter for days. That’s because U.S. egg producers—and producers in Japan, Scandinavia, and Australia—are required to wash their eggs to prevent salmonella. This washing process strips the eggs of their natural protection, making it essential to keep them chilled to fend off pathogens and spoilage.
Myth: All saturated fats raise blood cholesterol.
Wrong. New research shows that some saturated fats do not raise blood cholesterol. In fact…