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Common Food Myths
July 7, 2015

Food and nutrition have always faced the challenges of myths and misconceptions. Here are some of the myths with information about what is true.

Myth: Saturated fats are better than trans fats.

Fact: Both trans fats and saturated fats are not healthy. They may increase the cholesterol levels in the blood, increasing the risk for heart disease and stroke. Eating fruits and vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, lean meat and poultry without skin, and fish twice a week can limit trans and saturated fats in your diet.

Myth: On the food label it says “0 grams trans Fat.” That product must have no trans fat in it.

Fact: If “partially hydrogenated oil” is listed on the ingredient list, it means the product actually contains trans fat. Companies can list 0 grams trans fat on the food label or claim “No trans fat” if the product contains less than 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving. The amount of trans fats you eat can quickly add up and exceed the recommended limits if you consume more than one serving of that product.

Myth: Foods that are labelled as “trans fat-free” are healthy.

Fact: Foods that are labeled “trans fat-free” may not necessary be healthy because they may be high in saturated fat. Saturated fat can increase your bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase your risk of heart disease.

Myth: Foods that contain 0 grams of cholesterol will not affect my blood cholesterol levels.

Fact: Blood cholesterol levels are affected by different factors. Even if a product has no cholesterol in it, if it has saturated or trans fats, it can still increase your bad LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.

Myth: Margarine is better than butter because it can lower my cholesterol levels.

Fact: Both margarine and butter are high in fat. Regular margarine may have trans fats in it, which can increase your bad LDL cholesterol and reduce your good HDL cholesterol. Butter has saturated fats in it, which can increase your bad LDL cholesterol. They can both raise your cholesterol levels and increase your risk for heart disease. In general, most vegetable oils are more preferred because they are generally lower in saturated fats and trans fats than the solid spreads.

Myth: People who are thin do not have to worry about high cholesterol and heart disease.

Fact: Although people who are overweight or obese tend to have higher risks, any type of body can have high cholesterol and heart disease.

Myth: Fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier than frozen fruits and vegetables.

Fact: Studies have shown frozen fruits and vegetables are as nutritious as fresh fruits and vegetables. However, fresh fruits and vegetables are healthier than canned because they tend to be higher in sodium and may increase the risk for hypertension.