Nutrition Myths That Are Wrecking Your Health

Thursday, 21 Nov 2013 09:48 AM

By Kathleen Walter and Nick Tate

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Butter, eggs, salt, and chocolate have fall been labeled dietary evils over the years by some doctors claiming they raise the risk of heart disease, high cholesterol, and stroke. But such claims are simply wrong, notes Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., and may lead many Americans to make unhealthy choices.

Dr. Teitelbaum, author of the new book "The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution," tells Newsmax Health many food myths are simply not based on sound nutritional science yet continue to inform American diets. Take butter, for instance. Numerous studies have shown that, in moderation, it is a healthier fat than margarine, which is laden with unhealthy oils.

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"It's funny [there are] so many health myths that I've seen in my 35-plus years as a physician, and there are fashions come and go," he says. "It used to be that AMA [American Medical Association] doctors used to be on TV telling people 'Smoke cigarettes, they're good for you!' And then they said don't breastfeed it's barbaric, give formula.

"And now they're telling people to take margarine, which has been shown to be really unhealthy oil, instead of butter, which is a good healthy fat. So absolutely, if you're going to go for a spread, go for the butter, throw away the margarine."

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Dr. Teitelbaum says there are similar misperceptions of healthy foods like chocolate (which contains health-boosting antioxidants), nuts (a healthy source of fat and protein that can reduce cholesterol), and eggs, which were once falsely believed to raise heart risks.

"Six studies where people took six eggs a day for six weeks showed no effect at all on cholesterol," he notes. "Other studies have taken a look at eating an egg or two a day (found) it does not increase heart attack risk. Eggs are the healthiest protein you can get."

Numerous studies have shown that nuts can lower cholesterol and don't contribute to weight gain. "So if you want to have a half a handful of nuts a day as a snack, it’s a really healthy good-for-you one so enjoy it."

Even salt gets a bad rap, Dr. Teitelbaum says, noting moderate consumption is not harmful. The same is true for chocolate, which he calls a "health food" because research has linked cocoa to a host of health benefits. "There's balance in all things ... Get a good quality sea salt or an iodized salt. Leave the salt in the salt shaker, so you can put it on as you want instead of [eating salt-laden] processed foods … Eating a little bit of chocolate each day is associated with a lower heart attack risk that is fairly dramatic, so … you can have your chocolate and be healthy at the same time."

The bottom line, Dr. Teitelbaum says: "Things that make you feel good really often are very good for you."

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Related stories:

Medical Myths That Can Threaten Your Life

Myth of Dangerous Salt: Are All the Warnings Wrong?

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