1. High-fat nuts are good for the heart.
You answered: #form.one#
True. Nuts are high in fat, and many people mistakenly think this means nuts are not healthy for the heart. This isn’t true. Nuts are rich in many heart-healthy nutrients, such as magnesium, potassium, folic acid and vitamin E. In fact, numerous studies have found that eating nuts significantly lowers the risk of coronary heart disease. One study that tracked almost 90,000 female nurses for 14 years found that those who consumed five ounces or more of nuts per week had a 35 percent lower risk of coronary heart disease than nurses who consumed one ounce per month or less (British Medical Journal, 1998, vol. 317).
2. Margarine is worse for heart health than butter.
You answered: #form.two#
True. A comprehensive health survey involving 85,095 women found that margarine correlates with the risk of heart disease more strongly than any other food, including butter (Lancet, 1993, vol. 341). The use of margarine results in more unfavorable ratios of total cholesterol to HDL (good) cholesterol—a risk factor for cardiovascular problems. Stick margarine use also elevates Lp(a) lipoprotein levels, another risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Butter, by contrast, lowers Lp(a) levels (New England Journal of Medicine, 1999, vol. 340). Stick margarine is high in trans-fatty acids, which increase the risk of heart disease. Even softer margarines that don’t have trans-fatty acids, however, are usually high in omega-6 essential fatty acids, and an excess of these types of fats helps promote inflammation, insulin resistance and obesity—all of which can contribute to the development of heart disease.
3. Switching to a low-fat diet consistently promotes increased feelings of well-being.
You answered: #form.three#
False. Adopting a low-fat diet is often billed as the way to experience better overall health, but research has identified unadvertised emotional drawbacks to lowering fat intake. Several studies found that people who switch to low-fat diets have greater feelings of anger, hostility, irritability and depression. These mood changes do not result from psychological feelings relating to dieting. Rather, they appear to be biological consequences of inadequate dietary fat in the central nervous system (British Journal of Nutrition, 1998, vol. 79).
4. Americans consume too much fat.
You answered: #form.four#
False. While it’s true that Americans generally eat too many saturated fats, we are not getting enough of the right kinds of fat, namely omega-3 essential fatty acids (EFAs), which are vital for good health. There are two types of good fat: omega-6 EFAs, found in most polyunsaturated vegetable oils; and omega-3 EFAs, found in fish, fish oils, dark green vegetables, flaxseeds, hemp seed oil and walnuts. Along with saturated fats, Americans consume far too many omega-6 fatty acids but not enough of the omega-3s. This imbalance can contribute to the development of coronary artery disease, hypertension, cancer, arthritis and other inflammatory and autoimmune disorders (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1991, vol. 54). Instead, try to eat a balanced diet of EFAs.
5. Eating cholesterol-free foods ensures low blood cholesterol levels.
You answered: #form.five#
False. Cholesterol in foods doesn’t equate with cholesterol levels in the blood. As an example, sugar is a cholesterol-free food, and eating large amounts of it raises insulin levels, which increases cholesterol production. Despite original theories, the cholesterol in low-fat foods, such as eggs, has been found to have little or no effect on blood cholesterol levels (Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 1996, vol. 49).
6. True. Fructose is fruit sugar, a type of healthy sugar that’s safe even for diabetics.
You answered: #form.six#
False. The fructose in cookies and other convenience foods is a highly refined product derived from corn that’s void of fiber and nutrients. It’s widely believed that fructose is safe for diabetics because it doesn’t raise blood sugar as much and as quickly as sugar. But fructose actually increases insulin resistance, the condition in which cells respond abnormally to insulin (Journal of Nutrition, 1997, vol. 127); and insulin resistance is at the root of Type II diabetes. Fructose, like sugar, also has a negative effect on immunity by decreasing the capacity of white blood cells to engulf bacteria (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1973, vol. 26).
7. Eating a lot of bread,pasta, rice and other starches is associated with an increased risk for breast cancer.
You answered: #form.seven#
True. Although carbohydrates are emphasized in current U.S. government diet recommendations, recent evidence suggests that a high consumption of carbohydrates, especially starches, substantially increases the incidence of breast cancer. In a study reported in Lancet, women who ate large amounts of pasta, rice, white bread and other starches had a 39 percent increased risk of breast cancer (Lancet, 1996, vol. 347). In contrast, women who ate a high-fat diet had a 19 percent increased risk.
8. The healthiest types of carbohydrates to eat are whole grains.
You answered: #form.eight#
False. Whole grains are more nutritious than refined white-flour products, but should still be eaten in moderation. Many grains, such as whole wheat, are common food allergens as well. The healthiest types of carbohydrates are nonstarchy vegetables such as salad greens, broccoli and green beans. These foods are nonallergenic, rich in nutrients and fiber, low in carbohydrates and calories, easy on blood sugar and far less likely to contribute to obesity.
9. Eating large amounts of protein from meat lowers calcium levels in the body and weakens bones.
You answered: #form.nine#
False. This rumor has become commonplace belief. While isolated protein powder may contribute to the loss of bone density, research shows that protein from meat does not affect calcium balance and does not cause bone loss (American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 1995, vol. 62). If you question this research, remember history: Our ancestors who lived 15,000 to 40,000 years ago ate diets high in meat but had bone structures stronger than their successors who consumed less meat.
10. We all have the same requirements for the essential nutrients needed for health.
You answered: #form.ten#
False. While Recommended Daily Allowances make it seem like we all need the same amounts of essential vitamins and minerals, requirements can vary dramatically among individuals. As early as the 1950s, Roger Williams, PhD, a world-renowned biochemist and author of Biochemical Individuality (Keats), showed that requirements for nutrients such as calcium and vitamin C can vary by a factor of four or more.
Melissa Diane Smith, Dipl. Nutrition, is a Tucson, Ariz.-based nutrition counselor and the co-author with Jack Challem and Burton Berkson, MD, of Syndrome X: The Complete Nutritional Program to Prevent and Reverse Insulin Resistance (John Wiley & Sons).