Everyone has heard contradicting food and nutrition information. It’s important to focus on science and evidence-based information when thinking about food and nutrition – especially today when people share their opinions as fact. For National Nutrition Month, let's take a look at common food and nutrition myths.
Myth: Only “Shop the Perimeter” of the Supermarket
Sure, the produce department is on the perimeter, but so are the bakery and the alcohol section. You can also find many affordable and healthy options in the middle aisles, including whole grains, canned tuna, beans and legumes, no salt added canned veggies, and no sugar added canned fruits. This week, Chunk Light Canned Tuna is only 37 cents. Great nutrition and a great price!
Myth: Organic Is Healthier
Organic foods are not significantly more nutritious than conventional foods—and they’re often more expensive. Organic farming still uses pesticides, just different ones. It is better to eat conventional, non-organic produce than to avoid fruits and vegetables due to fear or budget constraints.
Myth: GMO Is Unhealthy
Many people are intimidated by GMO foods. GMO stands for “genetically modified organism,” and means that scientists have improved the food via gene expression.
There have been thousands of studies on the safety of GMOs, many of which were independently-funded and free of bias. Looking at their nutrition, there is no difference between GMOs and their non-GMO counterparts, unless the food has been engineered to have a different nutritional composition.
Current GMO foods available for human food consumption in the United States include sweet corn, soybeans, canola oil, alfalfa, sugar, papaya, squash, and a specific brand of non-browning apples called Arctic Apples. Other GMO foods in development include potatoes, tomatoes, and salmon.
Myth: Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Are Better Than Canned or Frozen
Canned and frozen fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as fresh when you choose no salt and no sugar added options. They are more affordable too, especially when certain fruits and veggies are out of season.
Myth: Brown Eggs Are Healthier Than White Eggs
The color of the shell doesn’t affect the quality, flavor, nutritional content, shell thickness, or cooking properties of an egg. The color of the egg is based on the hen’s breed!
Myth: Milk Is Best Stored in a Glass Bottle
An opaque container is actually best because its B vitamin, riboflavin, can break down quickly when exposed to light for prolonged periods of time.
Myth: Organic Milk Does Not Contain Hormones
Since milk is an animal product, all milk naturally contains some bovine hormones, whether organic or not. Many people are surprised to learn that even plants have hormones - they are living and growing too.
Myth: Poultry Contains Harmful Hormones and Antibiotics
Most meat in the United States is antibiotic-free, since producers typically cannot give hormones or antibiotics to turkeys, chickens, or other animals raised for consumption. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) regularly inspects meat to ensure that it is free of antibiotics and hormones.
Myth: Avoid Farm-Raised Fish
While wild-caught fish may be a tad more nutritious, farm-raised fish are still a great choice. It is better to consume farm-raised fish than none at all.
Myth: Reduced-Fat Foods Are Healthier
Reduced-fat foods are often high in sugar. Rather than grab the “low-fat” or “reduced fat” product, it’s best to read the label. For example, with reduced-fat peanut butter, they reduce the amount of healthy fat and leave you with the same amounts of unhealthy fat. Choose the regular variety for nutrition and better flavor!
Myth: All Wheat Bread Is Made with Whole Wheat
The only way to know if bread, pasta, crackers, or tortillas contain whole grains is to read the ingredients list. If a food contains whole grain, the first ingredient listed will say “whole,” “100% whole,” or “whole grain,” such as “whole wheat" or “whole grain rye."
Myth: Turbinado (Raw) Sugar and Agave Nectar Are More Nutritious Than White (Refined) Sugar
Spoonful for spoonful, there’s really no difference between raw and refined sugars nutritionally. If you’re looking for added health benefits, go for raw honey. However, you shouldn’t heat it above 118 degrees F, since above that temperature, the heat begins to “refine” the honey and negates its health-promoting compounds.
Contact Us if You Have Other Questions About Food Myths
Now that we’ve bused these common food and nutrition myths, you can feel confident when grocery shopping at our stores. If you have any specific food and nutrition questions, or a myth you would like busted, or confirmed, please email the Living Well Team directly at [email protected].
Stephanie Edson - Regional Wellness Specialist
Stephanie is an award-winning registered dietitian who believes in empowering every individual to make nutritious food choices to support a healthy lifestyle. She believes in the power of food as medicine and loves sharing about nutrition with others.