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Myths & Truths About Nutrition PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 01 January 2000 02:36

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Myth: Heart disease in America is caused by consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat from animal products.

Truth: During the period of rapid increase in heart disease (1920-1960), American consumption of animal fats declined but consumption of hydrogenated and industrially processed vegetable fats increased dramatically. (USDA-HNI)

Myth: Saturated fat clogs arteries.

Truth: The fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated (74%) of which 41% are polyunsaturated. (Lancet 1994 344:1195)

Myth: Vegetarianism is healthy.

Truth: The annual all-cause death rate of vegetarian men is slightly more than that of non-vegetarian men (.93% vs .89%); the annual death rate of vegetarian women is significantly more than that of non-vegetarian women (.86% vs .54%) (Am J Clin Nutr 1982 36:873)

Myth: Vitamin B12 can be obtained from certain plant sources such as blue-green algae and soy products.

Truth: Vitamin B12 is not absorbed from plant sources. Modern soy products increase the body's need for B12. (Soybeans: Chemistry & Technology Vol 1 1972)

Myth: For good health, serum cholesterol should be less than 180 mg/dl.

Truth: The all-cause death rate is higher in individuals with cholesterol levels lower than 180 mg/dl. (Circulation 1992 86:3:1026-1029)

Myth: Animal fats cause cancer and heart disease.

Truth: Animal fats contain many nutrients that protect against cancer and heart disease; elevated rates of cancer and heart disease are associated with consumption of large amounts of vegetable oils. (Fed Proc July 1978 37:2215)

Myth: Children benefit from a low-fat diet.

Truth: Children on low-fat diets suffer from growth problems, failure to thrive & learning disabilities. (Food Chem News 10/3/94)

Myth: A low-fat diet will make you "feel better . . . and increase your joy of living."

Truth: Low-fat diets are associated with increased rates of depression, psychological problems, fatigue, violence and suicide. (Lancet 3/21/92 v339)

Myth: To avoid heart disease, we should use margarine instead of butter.

Truth: Margarine eaters have twice the rate of heart disease as butter eaters. (Nutrition Week 3/22/91 21:12)

Myth: Americans do not consume enough essential fatty acids.

Truth: Americans consume far too much of one kind of EFA (omega-6 EFAs found in most polyunsaturated vegetable oils) but not enough of another kind of EFA (omega-3 EFAs found in fish, fish oils, eggs from properly fed chickens, dark green vegetables and herbs, and oils from certain seeds such as flax and chia, nuts such as walnuts and in small amounts in all whole grains.) (Am J Clin Nutr 1991 54:438-63)

Myth: A vegetarian diet will protect you against atherosclerosis.

Truth: The International Atherosclerosis Project found that vegetarians had just as much atherosclerosis as meat eaters. (Lab Invest 1968 18:498)

Myth: Low-fat diets prevent breast cancer.

Truth: A recent study found that women on very low-fat diets (less than 20%) had the same rate of breast cancer as women who consumed large amounts of fat. (NEJM 2/8/96)

Myth: The "cave man diet" was low in fat.

Truth: Throughout the world, primitive peoples sought out and consumed fat from fish and shellfish, water fowl, sea mammals, land birds, insects, reptiles, rodents, bears, dogs, pigs, cattle, sheep, goats, game, eggs, nuts and milk products. (Abrams, Food & Evolution 1987)

Myth: Coconut oil causes heart disease.

Truth: When coconut oil was fed as 7% of energy to patients recovering from heart attacks, the patients had greater improvement compared to untreated controls, and no difference compared to patents treated with corn or safflower oils. Populations that consume coconut oil have low rates of heart disease. Coconut oil may also be one of the most useful oils to prevent heart disease because of its antiviral and antimicrobial characteristics. (JAMA 1967 202:1119-1123; Am J Clin Nutr 1981 34:1552)

Myth: Saturated fats inhibit production of anti-inflammatory prostaglandins.

Truth: Saturated fats actually improve the production of all prostaglandins by facilitating the conversion of essential fatty acids. (Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Journal 20:3)

Myth: Arachidonic acid in foods like liver, butter and egg yolks causes production of "bad" inflammatory prostaglandins.

Truth: Series 2 prostaglandins that the body makes from arachidonic acid both encourage and inhibit inflammation under appropriate circumstances. Arachidonic acid is vital for the function of the brain and nervous system. (Price-Pottenger Nutrition Foundation Journal 20:3)

Myth: Beef causes colon cancer

Truth: Argentina, with higher beef consumption, has lower rates of colon cancer than the US. Mormons have lower rates of colon cancer than vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists (Cancer Res 35:3513 1975)

Comments (19)Add Comment
written by Tina S, Jul 17 2013
Although I agree with many of the points, I have to say that no "myth busting" point should be attempted to be presented to the public based on ONE source. Furthermore, we are now miles ahead of the 1960's-1980's articles mentioned in this post.
For the good of the readers of today and tomorrow, I would strongly suggest you revise this with at least 4 references each, from peer reviewed sources published in the last 5 years.
Thank you,
written by Rose, May 18 2013
Don't forget to mention that in the studies that showed that coconut oil clogs arteries hydrogenated coconut oil was used, not natural coconut oil.
written by CMHFFEMT, Jun 06 2012
Thanks for the great information. I think that a lot of people have problems with this type of information because it is so far from what the main stream beliefs are. But good referenced articles like this is what is going to make the difference in the long run.
It would help for FB postings
written by nancy jacques, Dec 27 2011
It would help for FB postings to have a pic representative of the page that shows up on the FB posting
written by nancy jacques, Dec 27 2011
My nutritionist has worked with thousands of clients and looked at thousands of blood tests. He has found optimal ranges on the various items checked that are much different from lab reference ranges. For cholesterol he says 16-240 is optimal but higher is not bad. It has been demonized by the pharmaceutical industry for the sake of $$$ from selling statin drugs.
written by Dakota, Oct 09 2010

I keep seeing y'all refuting the naysayers but I never see their original comment. Too bad you guys flag it, it'd be interesting to see their points. It's always good to have a little debate to challenge your stances in life.
So, here's one (with the disclaimer that I think Dr. P was unfairly swept under the rug, that I agree with most of what this website has to offer -and haven't read the rest- and probably eat really similarly to all of you, except that I am still trying to hook up with a source of raw goat milk, but I digress):
Myth #3 Vegetarianism is healthy. There are a few things I disagree with in "debunking" such a simple statement. I'd like to point out that Dr. Price actually studied a number of predominantly vegetarian societies in his travels and found them to be quite healthy. If I'm wrong here, please hit me.
Another issue I have with this point is that attempting to follow a vegetarian diet is really quite a bit more healthy than a modern American diet, if done properly.
My final point, and the one I am most concerned about, is that the 1999 study from the AJCN very clearly shows that the death rate for vegetarian men is lower than that of non-veg men (0.73, 1.01) and women follow a similar pattern(0.82, 1.06). The conclusion of the study states that "vegetarians had a 24% lower mortality from ischemic heart disease than nonvegetarians." There were possible associations with other health effects too but these were inconclusive.
So, do me a favor and rationalize this. I suppose it could have something to to do with non-vegetarians generally following a less healthy diet with plenty of white flour, etc. The study isn't perfect but I thought I'd point out the discrepancy between old and new, since I saw that some of you think that nothing ever changes.
And yes, I'm cherry picking.
Thanks all.
written by Dana, Oct 03 2010
Rob: Your LDL got "worse" because it is not directly counted in a normal lab test. Your laboratory used something called the Friedenwald equation or the Friedenwald formula, which requires the numbers for total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides to calculate. If I am not mistaken, the cutoff number for triglycerides is 50 and over--if they're lower than 50, it skews that equation and your LDL number becomes inaccurate.

Do a Google search and you'll see what I mean. Ask your doctor for a direct-count LDL. Another thing you can do is find out your LDL particle size. Large and fluffy is good, small and compact is bad. Your doc may actually be more willing to test for particle size than do a direct LDL count, as the latter test is more expensive. But a diet that increases your HDL and drops your triglycerides is good for you no matter what that LDL number says. It's only the lipoproteins that carry cholesterol out from your liver to other areas of your body, not a carved-in-stone death sentence.
This article always gets attention
written by Misty, Sep 11 2010
It's so nice to have these myths and truths well cited to refer to. It is so very helpful.
In good health
written by Charlotte, Sep 10 2010
While it's true that grass fed meat is healthier than cheap supermarket meat, Nina Planck stated that she grew up on supermarket meat and she is in great health. Most of us can't afford grass fed meat, but you know, it's just like with seafood, there is a risk of consuming mercury; however, the benefits to eating seafood, even when pregnant, far outweigh the risks. People are willing to admit this half the time with seafood, but they don't seem to get this with meat. All foods, especially plants, are inferior to pork when it comes to iron. This is extremely important to me right now because I am in my second trimester of my second pregnancy and in my first pregnancy during this time I developed mild anemia and I believe it's because I had an aversion to the smell of meat, especially red meat. Since I didn't have it prior to pregnancy, when I was eating lots of meat, that says a lot about how much our bodies depend on red meat for iron. I was also afraid of seafood in my last pregnancy, I think like Nina Planck said, the FDA has been very successful at scaring pregnant women away from seafood. But the benefit of consuming seafood outweighs the risk. I really swear by a whole foods diet. I am pregnant and I never get cravings for junk because I eat so much whole food protein and my weight gain is normal (which even if it were "abnormal," my only concern right now is providing my baby with proper nutrition, I'll get my figure back because I got it back last time, when I didn't even eat healthy).

The biggest myth of all
written by George M, Sep 02 2010
"Heart disease in America is caused by consumption of cholesterol and saturated fat from animal products."

I would say this is the most widespread myth out there. Everyone and their cousin believe this. When friends or family tell me too many eggs is unhealthy because of cholesterol I can but snicker inside!
Talking to ROb
written by Sam, Jun 08 2010
Well talking about the idea of hdl vs ldl cholesterol. The ldl cholesterol is what sticks to your blood vessel walls when they get damaged (via acid wastes and free radicals). Once the blood vessles heal, the hdl is what takes them off. It could be that there are fewer or no places in your system where ldl had to stick to the walls, so the liver doesn't produce as much hdl because it isn't needed.
written by ROb, May 15 2010
My blood tests were worse when i went on the primal way of eating. It was quie alarming as my hdls went down and my ldls went up. My tryglicerides went down under 100 but the ratio of hdl to ldl got worse and i had completley cut out sugars processed carbs breads pastas soda HFCS. Im just kind of nervous about the whole thing.
written by Mary Titus, Mar 13 2010
This is all true, I have included tons of fats in my diet and I have greatly reduced my inflammation, lowered blood glucose and truly enjoy eating. Viva fats and meat. Y'all just don't know what you are missing.
written by Mary Titus, Mar 13 2010
Oh well, looks like there continues to be naysayers. Let me assure you that fats are healthy. Come to my house, check out my diet, check out my blood work and you will agree. Fats are a central factor that our bodies depend on for survival. Fats do not cause damage to the body, sugar does. Sugar is a glorified poison and should be exposed as such. smilies/cool.gif I really didn't need a study to prove this to me because I eat lotsa butter, coconut oil,palm oil fatty cuts of meat ( grain and grassfed )cream,cheeses. I credit this food for helping me to make more inteeligent food choices. I eat plenty of vegetables and low-sugar fruits than I ever have.My diet seems to direct me towards healthier food choices. It is the truth.
To eBeth
written by Deb, Feb 28 2010
This information doesn't need to be updated very often because it's correct information in the first place. What makes you think this information is "out of date"? Just because it's not from yesterday? How and why should they update information that hasn't changed?!
Any meat lobbiests
written by Ian, Feb 14 2010
It seems to me that the meat in stores now is not grass fed, but fed(corn and other grains) therefore yeilding much different results, and who funded these studies??..
written by VeoKenKs, Feb 13 2010
Awesome i 100% agree with everything here this site rocks thank you so much for takeing the time to show people the truth
written by Carrie, Jan 29 2010
Yes I agree, although I want to agree with this information, it would help for there to be more updated research to back up these claims. Please do this if you can!
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Last Updated on Thursday, 10 March 2011 16:50