Truth or Trash: Breaking Down Internet Health Myths

When it comes to your health, where can you turn for quality advice? With Facebook article headlines like “McDonald’s Fries Cure Baldness,” it’s no wonder you have trust issues. Are eggs really that bad for you? Should I do a juice cleanse? Does Vitamin C really cure cancer?

Confused yet? We’re here to help simplify the chaos that is internet health articles. In this “Truth or Trash” series, our RD breaks down common internet health claims to help you combat this information overload. Let’s turn to the science and set the record straight.

1. Egg whites have no health benefits.

One large egg has about 75 calories, 7g of highly bioavailable protein, 5g of fat and is loaded with vitamins and minerals. Of those 75 calories, the egg white makes up about 25 calories, 7g of protein and the yolk holds all the fat and essential nutrients. When the low fat craze hit, egg whites replaced any sight of yolk, cutting out healthy fat and all the good nutrients. Nowadays, egg yolks are back on the scene as a ”superfood” and science shows no significant link between intake of dietary cholesterol and cholesterol in the blood. To bulk up the protein with fewer calories in your omelet, mix up two or three eggs with 2-3 egg whites.

The bottom line: The white contains a majority of an egg’s protein and the yolk is where the satiating fat and essential nutrients are, they both belong in a well-balanced diet.

2. A glass of red wine a day keeps the doctor away.

Good news for wine lovers – there is science backing up one glass of alcohol per day to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Be careful on that pour – one glass means 5 ounces. These health benefits are thanks to resveratrol, a substance in red wine that acts as an antioxidant, which works to reduce your risk for heart disease. Keep in mind, more isn’t always better. The negative effects of downing the entire bottle definitely outweigh the benefits.

The bottom line: For healthy adults, one serving of alcohol a day can have health benefits. However, moderation is key. If you don’t drink alcohol or have had issues in the past, don’t start just in hopes of the health benefits.

3. Fat is bad for you.

Fat is back in style. Science has worked diligently over the last few years to dispel the too commonly believed myth that the fat in your burger is going right to your arteries (an explanation that couldn’t be further from the truth).

Another popular myth: fat makes you fat. Your brain is one of your fattiest organs, composed of at least 60% fat. This means when we cut out fat, especially essential fatty acids, our short and long-term memory, focus and attention span suffers. Adding fat with every meal helps to stabilize blood sugars and prevent your hangry mindless snacking later in the day. Go for whole food based fats from avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds and fatty fish.

The bottom line: Your body needs fat, but avoid trans fat and include plant-based sources such as avocado, coconut, almonds, walnuts, seeds and olives.

4. No carbs after 3 pm or at night.

Carbohydrates serve as a quick energy source for our body and regulate our blood sugars. As we’re up moving around during the day, we rely more on quick energy (blood sugar). When we hit the couch or hit the hay, we mostly burn fat for energy.

Carb cycling includes planning the bulk of your carbohydrates around exercise to help support intense exercise and aid in recovery post-exercise. Carbs in general at night isn’t usually the issue, but more so the types of carbs we consume. 1 serving of chips (15 chips) provides 160 calories, 10g of fat, 15g carbohydrate, 1g fiber and 2g protein. For the same amount of calories, swap with 5 cups air-popped popcorn to add 5g fiber. Drizzle with olive oil and a touch of salt for a little flavor.

The bottom line: Carbohydrates, in general, aren’t the issue, more so they types we’re choosing. Diabetics need carbohydrates at night to maintain blood sugars throughout the night. Opt for high quality, nutrient dense whole foods that will fill you up instead of empty calorie snacks.

5. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day

If you’ve ever seen a cereal commercial, you’ve definitely heard this phrase. It’s been ingrained in society that without breakfast, we can’t focus or survive the day. This all comes down to individual preference. Some find they can’t focus mid-morning unless they’ve eaten breakfast, whereas others find better concentration in a fasted state.

Breakfast does become the most important meal of the day if you’re a morning warrior. Get a well-balanced meal of protein, fat and carbohydrates to promote recovery post-exercise. Breakfast doesn’t have to be a sit-down meal! Overnight oats or balanced protein bars are a convenient on the go option.

The bottom line: If you’re a breakfast skipper, make sure you’re getting those calories and nutrients elsewhere throughout the day.