The Truth Behind 10 Diet Myths
Does Eating at Night Make You Fat? Is Caffeine Bad for You? Get the Facts on These and Other Diet Myths
WebMD News Archive
Myth: Caffeine is unhealthy.
Reality: Rosenbloom says there is some evidence that caffeine may have a positive effect on some diseases, including gout and Parkinson's disease, besides caffeine's famous alertness buzz.
Also, caffeine doesn't dehydrate people who consume it regularly, Rosenbloom says.
But she cautions that caffeine isn't always listed on product labels, and children who drink a lot of caffeinated energy drinks may get more caffeine than their parents expect. "Kids tend to guzzle these things, whereas an adult may sip a beverage," Rosenbloom says.
Myth: The less fat you eat, the better.
Reality: "For some people, counting fat grams can work for weight control, but it isn't the be-all end-all for people," Rosenbloom says.
She says that people with heart disease, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome may benefit from adding a little healthy fat -- the monounsaturated kind -- and cutting back on carbohydrates. But they shouldn't increase their overall fat intake -- just swap saturated fat for monounsaturated fat.
"If you go out to an Italian restaurant and you have triple cheese-meat-sausage lasagna but then you have a little olive oil on your bread, you're not doing much for your heart," Rosenbloom says.
Myth: To eat less sodium, avoid salty-tasting foods and use sea salt in place of table salt.
Reality: Your sense of taste doesn't always notice sodium, and sea salt or other gourmet salts aren't healthier than table salt.
"Just because it doesn't taste salty doesn't mean that it isn't salty," Rosenbloom says. She says many processed foods contain a lot of sodium -- check the label.
Sea salt, Rosenbloom says, contains slightly less sodium per teaspoon than table salt only because sea salt is coarser, so fewer grains fit into the teaspoon.
Myth: Drinking more water daily will help you lose weight.
Reality: There's no evidence that water peels off pounds.
Foods containing water -- such as soup -- can fill you up, "but just drinking water alone doesn't have the same impact," Rosenbloom says. "Our thirst mechanism and our hunger mechanism are two different things."
Myth: Whole grains are always healthier than refined grains.
Reality: Whole grains are a healthy choice, but you needn't ditch refined grains. "You can have some of each," Rosenbloom says.