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12 Food And Nutrition Myths Challenged

There's no shortage of exaggerated health claims and healthy eating advice on the internet.

07/13/2017 10:34 EDT | Updated 07/13/2017 10:41 EDT

Bone broth is the ultimate soup du jour! Lemon water can help you detoxify and lose weight! Herbal teas help rid our bodies of toxins naturally!

There's no shortage of exaggerated health claims and healthy eating advice on the internet. But can any of these health claims be believed or should they all be taken with a grain of salt? To uncover the truth behind common food and nutrition myths we asked our talented team of registered dieticians and certified nutritionists to weigh in and give us the goods on what's actually backed by science and what's purely science fiction.

1. Eggs

Unsplash Joseph Gonzalez

Claim: Eggs are high in cholesterol and we should limit our intake.

After decades of warning people to limit their intake of cholesterol, American health authorities declared earlier this year that cholesterol is no longer a "nutrient of concern," acknowledging that the "available evidence shows no appreciable relationship between consumption of dietary cholesterol and serum [blood] cholesterol." Eggs are a good source of high-quality protein, and about half of the protein in an egg is found in the yolk. Those golden yolks also contain valuable nutrients, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect against age-related vision loss.

2. Bone Broth

Unsplash Enrique Felix

Claim: Bone broth heals leaky gut, promotes joint health and boosts collagen.

Bone broth, particularly beef bone broth, is enjoying its day in the sun. Believers tout a wide range of bone broth health benefits, including healing a leaky gut, promoting healthy joints, upping immune system function and improving our appearance thanks to its collagen content. Regrettably, the bone broth craze is leading a lot of healthy eaters astray. Instead, maintaining collagen formation by making smart food choices that also lower your odds of developing diseases is a wiser route to consider.

3. Lemon Water

Unsplash Suhyeon Choi

Claim: Lemon water helps us detoxify, burn fat and lose weight.

A quick Google search reveals an endless list of websites waxing poetic about the health benefits of drinking lemon water in the morning. It's often touted as a magical cure-all, one that helps us detoxify, lose weight, burn fat and even fight cancer. Unfortunately, very little of this is true. However, if you are looking for an easy way to get a daily dose of vitamin C and potassium, lemon water does deliver a quick hit of these two essential nutrients.

4. Kale

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Claim: Kale is full of nutrients so we should eat more of it.

All hail kale, right? Not so fast. Don't assume that because kale is loaded with vitamins and minerals that more is necessarily better. While kale is lauded for its many health benefits, there are negative side effects of kale. Too much kale can be harmful if you have gastrointestinal issues or take blood thinner medication.

5. Juicing

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Claim: Fresh juice can significantly boost our intake of key nutrients.

Incorporating fresh juices into your diet can dramatically boost your intake of key nutrients — but juicing shouldn't replace whole fruits and vegetables. Although fresh juice has a high concentration of nutrients, juicing also removes most of the fiber, an important component that helps regulate appetite, digestion, blood sugar and cholesterol. Fresh juice is best enjoyed as part of a balanced diet that also contains whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and other nutritious foods.

6. Herbal Teas

Unsplash Anjeli Lundblad

Claim: Herbal teas can help rid our bodies of toxins naturally.

Teas that purport to help with detoxification may also contain herbs that act as diuretics, such as dandelion root. While diuretics can help reduce bloating due to water retention, they don't affect the body's elimination of toxins. Your liver and kidneys are extremely adept at filtering these compounds from the blood, breaking them down or converting them into less harmful molecules and escorting them safely out of your body. Despite the popularity of detox teas, supplements and diets, their impact on your body's detoxification processes is fairly minimal.

7. Meal Replacement Shakes

Global Mechanic

Claim: Meal replacement shakes offer a convenient source of complete nutrition.

Originally developed for hospitalized patients, meal replacement shakes, also known as nutritional supplement drinks, are now pitched to active older adults as convenient sources of "complete nutrition". Unfortunately these shakes don't stack up well nutritionally. Look closely and you'll see that a lot of nutritional supplement drinks are made with corn syrup and vegetable oil; some have powdered milk and soy for added protein.

8. Calcium Supplements

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Claim: Calcium supplements help prevent bone fractures.

For decades, scientists reasoned that boosting calcium intake with supplements would help slow age-related bone loss and prevent fractures. Unfortunately, we now have enough data to see that it hasn't work out the way we hoped. Reports recently published in the British Journal of Medicinereviewed scores of studies and found that while taking calcium supplements might slightly improve your bone density, they don't reduce your risk of bone fractures.

9. Immune-Boosting Foods

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Claim: Eating certain foods can help boost immunity.

Take those lists of immune-boosting foods with a grain of salt. Unfortunately, the evidence that specific foods fight the flu is a lot flimsier than you might think.

10. Whole Grain Bread

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Claim: Ancient grain breads are just an expensive hoax.

No hoax here — ancient grainsare worth the extra expense. Compared with modern grain varieties, which are often heavily refined, ancient grains contain many essential vitamins (particularly vitamin B) and minerals (such as potassium and magnesium) as well as iron and fiber. According to a new study, eating bread made with ancient grains, as part of a healthy diet, could help lower cholesterol and blood glucose levels.

11. Vitamin-Infused Water and B-Complex Supplements

Claim: Vitamin water or B-complex supplements can boost our energy levels.

Don't bother with vitamin-infused waters and B-complex supplements to stay alert. It's true that the body requires B vitamins to convert food into cellular energy, but taking extra B vitamins doesn't increase the amount of energy you produce or the speed at which the conversion happens. Unless you have a severe deficiency in one or more B vitamins (which is fairly unlikely), any boost in energy you get from these products is either due to placebo effect or the presence of stimulants, such as caffeine.

12. Organic produce vs. Conventional Produce

Unsplash Tim Mossholder

Claim: Organic produce is more nutritious than conventional produce.

Although there are valid reasons why you might decide to pay a premium for organic produce, nutrition shouldn't be one of them. If you're looking to maximize your health, the amount of fruits and vegetables you consume is far more important than whether or not they are organic.

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