But the truth is, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, Eating Well Magazine was taken to task in April by the authors of a study on high fructose corn syrup, who said that Eating Well had distorted information from a study they had done on HFCS.
With a rebuttal that included four detailed points, Princeton University professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction, took Eating Well to task for trying to say his study was flawed:
"Our study in laboratory rats complements the growing body of literature suggesting that HFCS affects body weight and some obesogenic parameters.
We cite in our paper additional evidence reported by other groups that supports our findings, and also acknowledge studies that suggest that HFCS does not affect body weight in ways different than that of sucrose. We acknowledge in the paper that at higher concentrations (e.g., 32%) sucrose has been shown to increase body weight.
We are claiming, however, that at the concentrations we compared in this study, HFCS causes characteristics of obesity. The data show that both male and female rats are (1) overweight, (2) have heavier fat pads, particularly in the abdominal area, and (3) have elevated circulating triglyceride levels," Hoebel said.
Eating Well printed his rebuttal -- but completely ignored the science by putting HFCS as No. 2 on its September list of food myths and "lies."
Meanwhile, despite two decades of public health initiatives, stricter government dietary guidelines, record growth of farmers' markets and the ease of products like salad in a bag, The New York Times is now telling us something that, in truth, we already know: Americans still aren't eating enough vegetables.
Today, the Times said, only 23 percent of American meals include a vegetable (note: French fries don't count). And in restaurants, a mere 5 percent of patrons order salads as a main course. In an effort to make vegetables more attractive, growers are trying all kinds of tricks to get us to eat them, including the baby carrot industry trying to position the product as a junk food.
Eating Well magazine actually published 13 "food myths" -- not just six -- they attempted to bust. Not all are inaccurate, but many are misleading. With all of the health information out there, it's already difficult to weed through the many lies and truths.
So it's disappointing when a media source attempts to correct a myth but fails to hit its target, thereby adding even more confusion and misinformation to an often already misunderstood topic.
Believe me, there is no shortage of real health myths that can, and do, have a massive impact on tens of thousands if not millions of people. The ones I address below, which Eat Well chose to focus on -- are among some of the most pervasive, and misleading.
1. Eggs and Cholesterol
Eating Well was correct in busting the myth that eggs are bad for your heart; eggs are one of the healthiest sources of protein out there. But they failed in their assertion that cholesterol contributes to clogged arteries and heart attacks, and in their advice to eat "less than an egg a day … more like two eggs a week" for certain at-risk populations.
Not only is cholesterol most likely not going to destroy your health (as you have been led to believe), but it is also not the cause of heart disease, which you can read more about here.
Further, most people can benefit from eating eggs many days of the week -- personally, I eat from two to four eggs each morning in my breakfast shake -- provided they're in their healthiest form, which is raw.
Raw eggs are better because cooking them will damage the valuable nutrients like lutein and zeaxanthin, bioflavanoids present in egg yolk that are incredibly important for your vision. Heating the egg protein also changes its chemical shape, and the distortion can easily lead to allergies.
Further, when an egg is overcooked, such as when it is scrambled, the cholesterol in it becomes oxidized, or rancid, and oxidized cholesterol can increase your levels of inflammation and lead to numerous health problems.
So go ahead and eat your eggs, but choose organic varieties, preferably from a small farmer near you, and eat them raw. The next best would be soft-boiled and then sunny-side up, with the yolk still very runny.
2. High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) IS Worse for You than Sugar
While Eating Well did state that HFCS can increase your risk of disease, they made it a point to state that it is no worse for you than ordinary sugar -- a false and misleading statement.
HFCS is typically 55% fructose, and sucrose is 50% fructose, so it's a wash in terms of sweetness, but medical researchers HAVE pinpointed various health dangers associated with the consumption of HFCS specifically, compared to regular sugar.
HFCS is a highly processed product that contains similar amounts of unbound fructose and glucose. Fructose and glucose are metabolized in very different ways in your body.
Glucose is metabolized in every cell of your body and is converted to blood glucose, while all fructose is metabolized in your liver, where it's quickly converted to fat and cholesterol. (When a diet includes a large amount of fructose, it can therefore create fatty liver, and even cirrhosis.)
Sucrose, on the other hand, is a larger sugar molecule that is metabolized into glucose and fructose in your intestine.
Fructose is metabolized to fat in your body far more rapidly than any other sugar, and, because most HFCS is consumed in liquid form (soda), its negative metabolic effects are further magnified.
3. Carbohydrates and Weight Gain
Eating Well once again misses the boat by stating that, while refined carbs like white sugar and white bread may make you pack on the pounds, "good" carbs like whole grains, beans and fruit won't.
The truth is that for a large subset of the population, easily two-thirds, those "good" carbs, including whole grains, very well may lead to weight gain, not to mention insulin resistance and related health problems like diabetes.
This is because, typically, grains rapidly break down to sugar, which causes your insulin resistance to increase which then can exacerbate health problems such as:
- High cholesterol
- High blood pressure
- Type 2 diabetes
That said, one-third of people will actually require a high-carb diet to lose weight, but even then those carbs typically need to exclude grain carbohydrates.
Vegetables will NOT convert into sugar the way grains do, and most Americans need to eat far more vegetables in their diet – as the New York Times reported above, only 23 percent of American meals include a vegetable! But a mistake many make is to classify corn and potatoes as vegetables. When you think "vegetables," it is far better to think "green."
Eating carbs in the form of vegetables may make your carb intake higher, but will not be a hindrance to your health goals the way even "healthy" carbs like whole grains and fruit might.
The bottom line is that the reason why so many people have trouble losing weight is because a one-size-fits-all approach to diet just doesn't work. Once you understand that everyone has their own nutritional type, you will be able determine whether a high-protein diet is right for you, or if you actually need a high-carb diet (with vegetables as the primary carb source) to look and feel your best.
4. Raw Food and Enzymes
Eating Well also takes time to state that it's not necessary to eat raw foods to get valuable enzymes, as your body will make enough on its own. This is another disservice, as your body can, and does, get enzymes from fresh, raw food, and if you don't eat raw foods you can bet that your enzyme levels will diminish.
As you age -- especially in a culture that focuses on processed foods -- about one-third of your body's ability to produce enzymes is lost by the age of 40! This is why many people find they benefit from enzyme supplementation as they get older, especially if they don't eat many foods with naturally occurring enzymes.
There are numerous other reasons to eat raw foods, too, and one of the primary ones is for their 'biophotons.' Biophotons are the smallest physical units of light, which are stored in, and used by all biological organisms – including your body. Vital sun energy finds its way into your cells via the food you eat, in the form of these biophotons.
They contain important bio-information, which controls complex vital processes in your body. The biophotons have the power to order and regulate, and, in doing so, to elevate the organism – in this case, your physical body -- to a higher oscillation or order.
This is manifested as a feeling of vitality and well-being, which you will miss out on if you don't eat raw foods.
5. Microwaving Your Food
Eating Well further claims that microwaving your food is not only safe, but will not harm the nutrient content of your food either. Both of these statements are false.
Microwaves heat food by causing water molecules in it to resonate at very high frequencies and eventually turn to steam, which heats your food. While this can rapidly heat your food, what most people fail to realize is that it also causes a change in your food's chemical structure.
Microwaving distorts and deforms the molecules of whatever food or other substance you subject to it. An example of this is blood products.
Blood is normally warmed before being transfused into a person. Now we know that microwaving blood products damages the blood components. In fact, one woman died after receiving a transfusion of microwaved blood in 1991, which resulted in a well-publicized lawsuit.
Further, some excellent scientific data has been gathered regarding the detrimental effects of microwaves on the nutrients in your food. For instance, a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli "zapped" in the microwave with a little water lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants.
Eating Well did point out that microwaving can cause plastic chemicals to leach into your food, and this is one more reason why I highly recommend choosing other cooking methods instead.
6. Gluten-Free Diets
Eating Well maintains that only people with celiac disease or gluten intolerance can benefit from avoiding dietary gluten. While these two groups definitely need a gluten-free diet, large numbers of people, perhaps even the majority of the population, are adversely affected by gluten on some level
Most of them do not have full-blown celiac disease, just a lesser form of gluten intolerance that they may not even be aware of known as a subclinical gluten intolerance.
Grains and sugars are inherently pro-inflammatory and will worsen any condition that has chronic inflammation at its root -- and not just inflammation in your gut, but anywhere in your body.
Those with celiac disease know the importance of eliminating grains from their diet, as many cannot tolerate even minute amounts of gluten, but this message has still to take root in the collective mind when it comes to dealing with autoimmune diseases and other inflammatory conditions.
In fact, if you want to avoid heart disease, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or even cancer, you will want to severely limit your grain consumption, or avoid grains entirely.
In my experience about 75-80 percent of ALL people benefit from avoiding grains, even whole sprouted grains, whether you have celiac disease, gluten intolerance or neither of those conditions.
Stay Informed to Avoid Misleading Health Information
As you can see, there is no shortage of health myths out there, and it only seems to be getting worse ... the six myths reviewed above are but a sampling; there are still many more.
If you ever have a question about whether your dietary information is sound, seek the guidance of a knowledgeable health care practitioner -- one who thinks outside the box of the conventional medical field -- and use this site to search through the thousands of myth-busting pages.
And, as always, remember to listen to your body, as it will be an invaluable source of feedback to help you gauge which foods are best for you.