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Nutrition Myths And Fallacies
Broward County > Parks > Extension Education > Nutrition > Nutrition Myths And Fallacies

There is a lot of nutrition information circulating out there and unfortunately, some of this common nutrition “knowledge” turns out to be incorrect. Sometimes the “food truth” is better than you might assume and in other instances it is worse than you may expect. The keys to good nutrition are variety, moderation and balance.

Nutrition myths and fallacies will always exist. It is up to you to obtain the most accurate and sound information that you possibly can. Your local Nutrition Extension Agent is available to assist you with nutritional questions and concerns.

Another great source for sound nutritional advice is a registered, licensed dietitian. There are many sources of nutrition information available to you. When seeking out a registered, licensed dietitian, you can locate one through your doctor, local hospital or by going to the “Find a Dietitian” link on the American Dietetic Association's web site.

The Florida Dietetic Association is the largest group of registered, licensed nutrition professionals in the state. The following information is courtesy of the Florida Dietetic Association.

Grapefruit will increase your metabolism and help you lose weight – While grapefruit packs plenty of Vitamin C and other beneficial nutrients into an 80 calorie package, it does not possess any magical metabolism boosting properties. Be cautious with grapefruit products if you are on certain medications. Contact your nutrition extension agent, a dietitian, pharmacist or click here to learn more.

Soy foods are too risky to eat if you have had breast cancer - The concern over soy (phytoestrogens) is that the research is still not clear if they might increase the risk for a recurrence in a woman who has had estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Moderate amounts of soy foods in the diet are generally considered safe, but supplements such as soy powders and pills are discouraged until more is known. The benefits of soy in the diet likely will outweigh any risk if consumed in moderation as part of a healthy diet. An excellent review of Soy in Human Health.

Butter is better for you than margarine – When this report hit the media, it compared butter containing both saturated fat and cholesterol to stick margarine containing hydrogenated fats. These fats, which contain trans-fatty acids, are formed in the processing of a poly-unsaturated liquid oil to semi-solid fat. Trans fats have a harmful effect on arterial plaque formation and cholesterol levels. Stick margarine is not a good choice, but tub or squeeze margarine which states “No trans fats” on the label are preferable to butter.

Athletes need to consume more protein to make muscle – Athletes need more carbohydrates and calories in general, to fuel their muscle growth when exercising. Protein needs might go up slightly, but these can easily be met by consuming larger portions of a well balanced diet to get the extra calories needed. Protein consumed in the absence of adequate calories from carbohydrates will be used as fuel for the cells. Not only is protein an expensive energy source but it can also mean extra work for the kidneys.

The weight lost on a diet is all fat – Much of the fast weight loss seen at the start of a very restrictive diet is water loss. When you limit your calories, especially in the form of carbohydrate foods, you burn the stored energy called glycogen in your muscles, liver etc. For each unit of glycogen stored, four units of water come with it, and this can add up to rapid weight loss, which is not permanent. Muscle mass can also be lost if your caloric intake is too low and exercise is not part of your program. Losing weight slowly, about 1-2 pounds a week, is the best way to go. Eating habits improve long term, the rate calories are burned does not slow down and it is easier to keep the pounds away for good.

Food that is good for you does not taste good – To the contrary, healthful foods are delicious and just require some experimentation to figure out what suits your taste best. Usually people find they actually start to prefer the more healthful foods when they eat them more frequently. Coupled with feeling better after food choices improve, this is powerful momentum to keep these habits in place.

Starchy foods are fattening and should be avoided for weight loss - The primary concern here is that portion sizes of starches such as pasta and rice are usually too large. Coupled with the fact that very high fat toppings such as butter, sour cream and alfredo sauce are also used, gives these foods an undeserved bad reputation. Carbohydrates, eaten in moderate portions are a superb source of fuel for your body, and choosing whole grain versions such as 100% whole wheat bread, whole wheat pasta or brown rice provides a big nutritional advantage.

Nutritional supplements would not be sold if they weren't safe to use – When the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA) passed in 1994, it put the responsibility of removing any harmful products on the FDA as opposed to the manufacturer confirming safety before they are marketed. Harm ranging from heart palpitations to strokes and deaths from the herb Ma Huang which contains Ephedra as its active ingredient is a prime example. These products remain on store shelves with extensive warnings in very small print on the label. Consumers should take their health history into consideration and really learn about these products before taking them. Ask a dietitian or another knowledgeable health professional and do some personal research. Looking up a nutrition supplement on the FDA's Special Nutritionals Adverse Event Monitoring System database before using a product can also be educational. 

There are “Good” foods and “Bad” foods – Certainly all food is not created equal on the nutrition scale but lets be realistic, no one food or meal is likely to cause a physical ailment. Let's take the focus off the individual foods and look more to see whether our overall diets are basically good or bad.

Getting your weight down should be your biggest goal to be healthy – Not necessarily. People can still carry extra weight and be perfectly healthy. Much of this depends on their level of fitness and genetic tendencies. Thin people are certainly not always more fit or healthier. We come in all shapes and sizes. Accepting our genetics, eating healthfully and keeping fit should be the focus instead of numbers on a scale.

Consulting with a registered, licensed dietitian to get your eating habits on track is too costly – Getting an individualized Nutrition Check Up with a qualified nutrition professional is not costly at all when you put the benefits in prospective. If you can discontinue expensive medications after successful dietary changes or you don't have to visit your doctor as often, you'll see the value. Having a professional assess and educate you on the supplements you might also be taking can save you money too, if many are not of true benefit to you. A nutritional assessment and health plan by a registered dietitian generally ranges from $75-125 depending on the amount of time needed. Some medical insurance policies are starting to cover Medical Nutrition Therapy but many still do not. When compared to the cost of one meal in a fine restaurant or a massage, both of which are very short term pleasures, a nutritional consultation which identifies better dietary habits that can dramatically improve your health and energy levels is a real deal! Invest in the wealth of your health.

Sorting out the nutrition information circulating out there can be challenging. It is up to you to obtain the most accurate and practical information that you can. Healthy eating helps you to get the most out of your life. A healthy lifestyle is the key to looking good, feeling great and being your best.