Health Food Myths
The food market is littered with products that are claimed to be “100% healthy”, “beneficial for weight loss”, or are just flat out considered good for you. But is this really true? Do they really provide health benefits? Turns out, most of those “healthy alternatives” are just gimmicks at best, and sometimes these so-called “healthy alternatives” can even be bad for you. And it’s not only the new hyped products that can be bad for you turns out even good old things like fish or bread are not as healthy as they used to be. Thanks to new intensive processes, even vegetables have less nutritional value than they used to due to depleted soil and preservatives.
So let’s take a look at some of these food myths perpetuated by the nutritional community.
1. Dairy and Skim Milk Food Myth
Dairy is considered to be healthy by millions. And while cheese or whole milk may get some flak for its high fat content, skim milk is definitely one of the healthiest foods there is, right? Right?
Wrong. Dairy products is easily one of the biggest food myths out there. There are a lot of problems with milk, but first, let’s look at the suggested benefits it gives – like “milk has a lot of calcium, so it must be great for bone health”. It’s true there’s calcium in milk. There’s even added vitamin D, which also improves bone strength. But that’s not all that is required for healthy bones vitamin K is important, too. Leafy greens have tons of vitamins K and D, plus calcium, while being better for your digestive tract and having less calories. Milk gives you sugars which are hard to digest. And it has some proteins but with its high caloric content, milk is only a viable source of protein for sportsmen or laborers. And all those minerals and vitamins we talked about? That’s in raw, whole milk. Which has a ton of fat. Pasteurized skim milk contains only a fraction of micronutrients.
Okay, milk isn’t as good as people think, but surely it isn’t harmful?
Well, turns out some aspects of milk might be bad for you. You see, milk comes from cows. But most of those cows aren’t milka-type happy bovines grazing on alpine meadows. Most of those cows actually spend their whole lives inside factory farms, where they, for a variety of reasons, get sick. Often. So they’re given antibiotics. Copious amounts of antibiotics. The antibiotic residues then make their way into your milk. This is regulated, however distributors can legally sell milk with antibiotic residues, as long as they’re below a certain level. Oh, and there’s also the matter of blood and pus from open sores making way into your milk. Don’t worry that’s regulated too, only 750 million pus cells can be in your liter of milk, according to the FDA regulations. What a relief.
This isn’t even the whole list of dairy food myths – there are many other problems with dairy and skim milk in particular. The moral? You’re better off eating green vegetables for your bone health, unless you can get raw, unpasteurized milk.
2. The Fish “Health Food Myth”
Fish was always considered a great source of micronutrients, minerals, vitamins, good fats and antioxidants. But did you know that most of the commercially-available fish offers none of that? Unless of course you count pesticide residue a vitamin. There’s going to be plenty of that fish farms are increasing their use of pesticides. But wait, that’s not the only food myth surrounding fish. There’s also one thing fish can offer in abundance, and that’s mercury. Oh, and there are also various other heavy metals, PCBs, dioxins and many, many other chemicals that pollute the water. Inevitably, they get consumed by the fish. They don’t swim around looking for a few grams of mercury, of course they get them with food and water. So the fish that’s higher up in the food chain tends to be more contaminated with environmental toxins and mercury. And then you, being at the top of the food chain, eat the fish, and with it, all the harmful substances it has. This food myth doesn’t sound healthy at all, does it?
Add to that the fact that most of the fish sold at super stores is actually farmed. What does that mean? That the fish is being fed a bad diet of corn, soy and chicken and feather meal, and is subjected to chemical treatment really similar to cows on industrial farms. In the end you get a cheaper fish with nutritional content that is incomparable to that of its wild counterpart. Take wild and farm-grown salmon. Wild salmon typically has a omega-3 to omega-6 balance of 8 to 1. Farmed salmon? 1 to 1 ratio. So if you want to improve your own omega-3 to omega-6 balance, it’s simply not going to happen with farmed salmon.
Of course you can still get a health benefit from eating fish, not all of it is a gigantic food myth. However, you must choose what you eat carefully. First of all, forget about farm-grown fish it simply offers no health benefits. Second, if you want your fish to have a lower level of contamination, go for those that are lower on the food chain and have short lifecycles. Generally the smaller the fish is, the safer it’s to eat.
3. Flax Seeds Food Myth
So it turns out you have to be really picky about your fish if you want some of those omega-3 fatty acids. But there are alternatives, right? Flax seeds! Now those seeds have some good fats, right?
Well, they do. But not all omega-3s are equal. There are several types of them EPA and DHA are those your body can actually use. Unfortunately, they aren’t found in flax seeds in any significant amount, which is why I consider flax seeds a food myth. What is found is alpha-linolenic acid. In theory, it’s good, because it’s converted into EPA and DHA. In practice, however, only a small amount gets converted 5-10% for the ALA-EPA conversion.
And here’s where this food myth goes south.
The unconverted ALA actually can cause problems, and has certain properties that some would like to avoid for instance, flax seeds have higher phytoestrogen content than soy, and they are also loaded with phytic acid. And about those problems that flax oil and seeds cause? One of them is that high intake of ALA the omega 3 acids found in flax seeds and oil – is associated with a greater risk of prostate cancer.
So if you’re male and taking flax seeds for their omega-3 content, you should look for another source. If you’re female and don’t have to worry about prostate cancer well, they’re probably safe, but you won’t be getting much from them anyway, so why even take them?
4. “Whole Grain”, “Multi-Grain” and Other Bread “Food Myths”
Most of the grain products today sport a label that says something like “whole grain”, “multi-grain”, “enriched wheat flour”, “whole wheat flour” you know what I’m talking about. But what does it really mean? Is bread marketed as “multi-grain” healthier than normal bread? Is it better in any way? Is it different any way?
Well, it’s definitely different. But as it turns out, it may not be better for you than normal bread that doesn’t say “whole grain” or “multi-grain.” Very often it’s just a marketing gimmick without any real substance to back it up. So let’s take a closer look at this food myth.
First of all, you must know that FDA does not define “whole grain” or “multi-grain” labels in any way. This means that you can slap a sticker saying its “whole grain” on virtually anything with no legal consequence. It doesn’t matter if your claim is baseless you can probably call a can of soda multi-grain and get away with it. In reality, of course, there’s some truth to the label. Products marketed as “whole grain” do have a certain amount of it. It’s just this amount in most cases is really, really, small.
The other problem with this food myth is that the label does not indicate the process used to make the end product. You can have something made only from whole grains but with absolutely no nutritional value. Why is that? Because very often, during the manufacturing process (I don’t think it can be called anything else) that the grain goes through it loses just about all of its nutrients. See the problem with this food myth? Oh, and even if the process used on the grain is rather tame, they may still be improperly prepared, and most of their nutrients may be simply unavailable for your body. So unless you know how the whole grain product was created, and just how much whole grain is in there, you’re better off staying away from it.
The “enriched wheat flour” label? I love this food myth! That just means that after they refined the grain, stripping it of inherent nutritional value, some vitamins and minerals were added. The problem with it? There’s no telling how bio-available are the added nutrients, or if they survived the whole shipping-storing process. “Rich in whole wheat flour”? Same thing as “whole grain”. It’s undefined by the FDA, and most of the time, it’s just your basic processed white flour with a tiny bit of whole flour sprinkled on top.
Multigrain isn’t any healthier than normal processed white flour product. What it means is, there are several varieties of grains in the product and all of them are highly-processed and refined.
So is there really no healthy, good-for-you bread out there? Well, that’s not completely true. If you pay close attention to the labels and the products you buy, you might just find something that’s cheap and healthy. First of all, if you can, make sure the grain is sprouted. This means that the nutrients are more available. Second, check the ingredient list. If your whole grain is somewhere at the end of it, the product is mostly your usual processed flour.
5. Agave Nectar Health Food Myth
Agave nectar is a sweetener marketed as a healthy and good-for-you alternative to things like sugar and aspartame. It’s supposed to be rich in minerals like calcium, potassium and magnesium, while being lower on the glycemic index than many other sweeteners. But, really, those claims don’t mean anything.
First of all, as we learned from the whole grain food myth, the food industry tends to be very liberal with definitions. In case of agave, “rich in minerals” means that somewhere along the way agave nectar had trace amounts of those minerals. And since most of the commercially-available agave nectar products have been processed in some way, what little amount of minerals the nectar had is now gone.
Second, glycemic index isn’t really a dependable thing. In fact, ADA the American Diabetes Association considers agave to be in the same group as other sweeteners like table sugar when it comes to insulin. No wonder agave nectar is essentially a mix of glucose and concentrated fructose. Commercially available products range from 55% fructose to 90% fructose, with the rest being glucose so really, agave is not much healthier than your basic HFCS.
Agave nectar also has 1.5 times more calories. And high levels of saponins. What are saponins? Just a toxic substance that can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
So if you want a healthy natural sweetener, forget about agave and buy honey. Or better yet, fruit.
The Bottom Line About Health Food Myths
These five food myths are just a few examples of disinformation that is floating around out there. The reality is, as our world gets more industrialized and more polluted, many foods previously considered healthy can be just plain harmful. And with unscrupulous advertisement and promotion campaigns, you’d be foolish to buy a product just because it’s marketed as “healthy”.
But there’s another side of the coin, too many foods that have a bad rep are in fact harmless, if not beneficial to your well-being. So do your research or consult an experienced nutritionist, and you will find your health and quality of life improved.
Stick to traditional produce grown in a traditional way from a trusted manufacturer you’ll see that meat and milk from free-range cows is not only healthier, but also tastes much better. And proper fruit grown on non-depleted soil will make you forget about cakes, sugar, soda and all other unnatural, bad-for-you products that undermine the health of the nation today.
Written by Dustin Fransen with WoW Gold Tips