There’s no shortage of bad health advice floating around. And while a little bad nutrition advice may be harmless, certain nutrition myths adopted as truth by entire populations can be downright destructive.

Here are 3 nutrition myths that are still alive and kicking today.

Myth #1. Saturated Fat Causes Heart Disease.

Despite being an important part of our diet for centuries, over the past 40 years saturated fats from both plant and animal origin have gained a poor reputation, particularly in relation to cardiovascular disease.

The vilification of fat stems from a study published in the 1970s that examined the association between diet and heart disease in different countries. Even though the study never showed causation between heart disease and saturated fat intake, this was the landmark study that government health officials based their recommendations upon to tell us to cut back on fat and drastically reduce our saturated fat consumption.

As a result, foods that were one revered as being nutritious such as whole eggs, butter, full-fat dairy, meat and tropical fats like coconut oil were demonized in favour of margarine, skim milk, egg whites, and unsaturated oils such as canola and soy.

In the meantime research has shown that saturated fat intake is not the culprit when it comes to heart disease.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise though seeing as our consumption of saturated fat has gone down, yet obesity and diabetes (two known risk factors for heart disease) are at an all time high. Even still, many “health authorities” are quick to put the blame on saturated fat even though mounting research points towards a different culprit – sugar!

Myth #2.  A Calorie Is A Calorie.

The notion that all calories are created equal is quite antiquated, yet the amount of calorie-tracking apps available tells us a different story – people are still counting calories.

The underlying assumption here is that “a calorie is a calorie” regardless of the food source – so for example 100 calories of candy is the same as 100 calories of broccoli.

In other words, if we can just control the amount of calories we consume (regardless of where they’re coming from), then we control our weight.

It’s important to understand that different foods and nutrients go through different metabolic pathways, and these variances impact the hormones that regulate our appetite and satiety, and influence fat burning or fat storage. Nutrient-rich foods will help maintain stable blood sugar, minimize cravings and enable our brain to signal our bellies when we’ve had enough to eat. On the other hand, nutrient devoid foods have the opposite effect and can actually encourage overeating.

This isn’t to say that the amount of calories we consume doesn’t matter at all, it does.  But it’s the quality of those calories that matters the most when it comes to our health and weight.

Myth # 3. Salt Is Unhealthy And Should Be Restricted.

Salt is comprised of two minerals, sodium and chloride. These minerals act as electrolytes in the body and are important for the proper functioning of nerves and muscles, as well as many other biological functions essential to life.

While it’s true that eating an excess of salt can raise blood pressure, there’s very little evidence that shows eating less salt improves health. You can read this article in Scientific American entitled “It’s Time to End the War on Salt” that points to some of the research that’s been done in this area.

For most people, even those living with hypertension (high blood pressure), salt isn’t necessarily the enemy but the type of salt that’s being consumed.

This is another prime example of why food quality matters.

The majority of salt in the western diet comes from processed and packaged foods. If you focus on a diet comprised of mainly whole-foods while limiting the processed ones, then most people don’t need to worry about adding salt to their food.

Furthermore, a diet rich in whole-foods supplies the body with potassium (usually devoid in processed foods), a mineral that when in balance naturally lowers sodium levels.

When you’re choosing salt, I recommend skipping the highly refined table salt and opting for a natural, unrefined sea salt that still contains other essential minerals our bodies need to function optimally.

About the Author

Elaine is a Certified Nutritionist and Women’s Health Coach. She works with clients across the globe to help them improve their health and relationship with food. Elaine believes in a real food approach to health that is rooted in optimizing digestion and includes ongoing and intelligent cleansing. You can download her FREE Hip, Healthy & Holistic Makeover Guide to learn 5 simple things you can do every day to lose weight, increase energy, kick cravings, and feel beautiful inside & out.