There was once a country song that said, “It’s easier to sell a lie than to tell the truth.” When it comes to nutrition education, I sometimes feel that way. There seems to be more misinformation about nutrition than ever before. Here are some interesting nutrition myths you may have heard in the past.
1. Celery has negative calories because it takes more calories to digest than the calories it contains. While celery is low in calories, there are no foods with negative calories. The calories needed to digest part of the food are not subtracted from the calories in the food.
2. Certain foods are bad for you. Ben Franklin once said: “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.” No food is inherently bad for you. It is the amount of a particular food that can become a problem. If you eat potato chips every day, it is not good for you. We need to get out of black and white thinking when it comes to food.
3. Sea salt is better than table salt. In a survey by the American Heart Association, 61% believe sea salt is a low-sodium alternative to table salt. Both sea salt and table salt contain the same amount of sodium, about 40% by weight. The bottom line is that there is no nutritional advantage in choosing sea salt over table salt.
4. Butter is better for you than margarine. At one time, margarine contained trans fats, but these are no longer used in the United States. Butter is an animal product that contains saturated fat. A diet high in saturated fat increases cholesterol, which increases your risk of heart disease. Choose margarine.
5. Raw sugar is better than white sugar. Raw sugar is the brownish, crystal clear sugar that you can find in small packets in a restaurant. It’s a little less processed than white sugar so it has to be better for you, right? Raw sugar contains some natural molasses; These were removed from white sugar. One teaspoon of raw sugar has the same number of calories as one teaspoon of white sugar.
6. Cheese causes constipation. This folklore has been passed on for generations. While I’ve only found one study on the subject, cheese hasn’t been shown to affect the gut habits of those who ate it compared to those who didn’t. 
7. Certain foods increase your metabolism. Research shows that while certain foods can have a minor impact on your metabolism, they are not enough to affect weight loss.
8. Certain foods help remove belly fat. One study found that soluble fiber reduced the visceral fat stored in the abdominal cavity. However, it did not reduce the subcutaneous fat, which is the fat under the skin.  Claims that certain foods reduce belly fat are often the same claims for overall weight loss. When you are losing weight, you simply cannot “spot it”.
Be healthy until next time!
1. Mykkänen, HM, et al. Influence of cheese on intestinal transit time and other indicators of intestinal function in residents of a retirement home. Scand J Gastroenterol. 1994 Jan; 29 (1): 29-29; 32.
2. Hairston, Kristen G. et al. Lifestyle Factors and 5-Year Belly Fat Accumulation in a Minority Cohort: The IRAS Family Study. Obesity, 2012 Feb; 20 (2): 421- 7th
Leanne McCrate is an award-winning nutritionist based in Missouri. Their mission is to educate the public about informed, evidence-based nutrition. Do you have a nutritional question? Email to Deardietitian411@gmail.com.