Diet history is full of nonsense. People have been advised to do all sorts of things that challenge common sense. Some of these things are not only useless, but are also potentially risky. The worst thing is that a lot of this misguided advice is still being imposed!
Here are the top 5 contenders for the worst diet advice:
1. You should throw away the egg yolk
False! The egg, that is the egg yolk, is among the most nutritious foods on the planet. Just think about it… The nutrients in a whole egg contain all the building blocks needed to turn a single fertilized cell into an entire baby chicken!
But the yolks also happen to be high in cholesterol. Due to this fact, people believed that they would raise cholesterol in the blood. Also, mainstream nutrition professionals regularly recommend that we limit our egg consumption to 2-6 whole eggs per week.
This is pretty much the worst thing we could do because the yolks contain almost all the nutrients. The whites are mostly protein.
In fact, many studies, some of which included hundreds of thousands of people, have looked at the link between the whole egg consumption and the risk of heart disease in healthy people. They found no association between the two!
Let’s not forget that eggs have many amazing benefits:
- They’re loaded with high quality protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, that is almost all nutrients your body needs.
- They’re very rich in choline, a brain nutrient that 90% of people don’t get enough of.
- They contain lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that are highly protective for the eyes, and lower the risk of various eye diseases.
Eggs are also among the most weight-loss friendly foods you can eat. Replacing a grain-based breakfast with eggs can increase fullness and make you eat less, thus helping you lose weight.
To top it all, eggs are cheap, easily prepared and amazingly tasty!
2. Everyone should have a low-fat, high-carb diet… even diabetics
False! The universal advice to eat a low-fat food was never based on good science. It was based on a few poorly conducted observational studies, animal experiments and misguided political decisions.
Even though there was no evidence that saturated fat caused heart disease at the time (and still there isn’t), some scientists were convinced that it was harmful and that a low-fat diet would prevent heart disease.
This has been the official stance of the governments and mainstream health organizations around the world for decades. At the same time, rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes have skyrocketed.
Since then, many massive studies have been undertaken on the low-fat diet. The biggest diet study in history, The Woman’s Health Initiative, randomized 48,835 women into groups. One had a low-fat diet, and the other group continued eating the standard Western diet.
After 7.5-8 years, there was only a 0.4 kg (1 pound!) difference in weight and there was no reduction in heart disease or cancer. Many other studies have led to the same conclusion. So, the diet that is still being recommended by the mainstream simply doesn’t work!
Even diabetics have been advised to follow this type of diet. It is a simple biochemical fact that carbohydrates raise blood sugar. This keeps the diabetic patients dependent on blood-sugar lowering drugs.
Take heed: Although low-fat diets may be good for healthy people, they are a complete disaster for people with obesity, metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes.
In fact, several studies have shown that low-fat diets can adversely affect some of the key risk factors for metabolic syndrome and heart disease. They can raise triglycerides, lower HDL and increase small, dense LDL particles.
3. A calorie is a calorie… Food quality is less important
False! The excessive attention to calorie intake is one of the biggest mistakes in the history of nutrition. It’s a myth that it is the caloric value of foods that matters most for weight and health, not the foods that the calories are coming from!
The truth is somewhere in the middle: calories are important, but that doesn’t mean we need to count them or even be consciously aware of them. Humans were the healthiest and leanest long before they knew that calories existed!
What matters is to realize that different foods have different effects on the hormones and brain centers that control our eating regime.
Here are 2 examples of why a calorie is NOT a calorie:
- Protein:Feeding on a high protein diet can boost metabolism by 80-100 calories per day and significantly reduce appetite and cravings. Protein calories have a different effect than carb or fat calories.
- Satiety: Many studies show that different foods have varying effects on feelings of fullness. You need much fewer calories to feel full up from eggs or boiled potatoes, compared with donuts or ice cream.
4. You should use polyunsaturated vegetable oils for cooking
False! We are usually advised to consume seed and vegetable oils that are high in Omega-6 fatty acids and trans fat (or polyunsaturated fats). Actually, it is the way these oils are processed (which involves high heat and the toxic solvent hexane) that makes them loaded with trans fats.
These oils, including soybean, corn, canola and cottonseed oils, have been shown to lower cholesterol levels. Yet, if something lowers cholesterol, it doesn’t automatically mean it prevents heart disease! Cholesterol is a risk factor, but it’s the hard end points (like heart attacks and death) that really matter. There are actually a number of studies showing that despite lowering cholesterol, these oils can increase the risk of heart disease!
Humans do need to eat Omega-6 and Omega-3 fatty acids in a certain balance, but this is currently way off because people are eating too much of these oils. Eating a diet high in Omega-6s and low in Omega-3s contributes to inflammation in the body, and inflammation is one of the key drivers of almost every chronic disease. These fatty acids also get incorporated into cell membranes, but polyunsaturated fats can react with oxygen and start free radical chain reactions in the cell membranes, which can damage important molecules like proteins or DNA.
Frequent cooking with these oils is a terrible idea also because polyunsaturated fats are sensitive to heat and damage easily. So, the nutrients you get from them are tantamount to zero!
5. You should replace natural butter with processed, trans- fat laden margarine
False! Mainstream nutrition has gotten many things wrong. Margarine, not surprisingly, increases heart disease risk compared with butter. Because this stuff isn’t food at all: it’s a combination of chemicals that looks and tastes like food!
The studies say that these processed fats and oils increase heart disease risk, so we should avoid them if we don’t want to get a heart disease. Apparently, the mainstream nutrition organizations continue to advise us to eat them although these studies have been out for a long time.
Summary: When we replace traditional foods like butter and meat with processed pseudo-foods, we become fat and sick. Now, how many doctors, nutritionists, PhDs and decades of work does it take to get this right?