Debunking healthy food myths

Food bans

At the new year, some blog subjects appear frequently, with writers getting more and more outlandish. In particularly, postings wrap up the year just past, prognosticate for the future,  and/or encourage dieting and healthy eating. These can be fun topics, but in the latter area,  we prefer practical approaches (as Susie writes about in her latest posting, Resolution time again).

And in that frame of mind we found that this N.Y. Times blog on healthy food myths, from one of our favorite food and health writers - Jane Brody - was sound and realistic. In What You Think You Know (but Don't) About Wise Eating, Brody notes that "millions of people are squandering hard-earned dollars on questionable, even hazardous foods and supplements." We particularly liked her sentence, "For starters, when did 'chemical' become a dirty word?" - something we've often pondered. Among the myths that Brody takes a look at are:

  • Only eat organic and nitrite-free processed meats. These latter can be contaminated and, in fact, can have nitrates even if labeled "nitrite free."
  • There's no reason to think that "food glue" isn't safe - and you've probably eaten quite a lot of it.
  • There are some good trans fats.
  • "Healthy" and "organic" are not synonymous.
  • Farmed salmon can not be banned -- there simply isn't enough of it to satisfy demand. But it can be healthy with proper farming techniques .
  • Nuts and avocados are good.

The article explains the reasoning behind these statements and is well worth taking a quick look at. If nothing else, it drives home the point that being skeptical of all extreme claims may be the safest precaution of all.

(Photo from the New York Times, by Yvetta Fedorova)


  • LDGourmet  on  1/3/2013 at 11:47 AM

    I do my own re-framing of the "eat better" resolutions here: Simplicity loves a villain, but I really try to coach clients to think of a diverse and well-rounded diet. I discourage them from demonizing certain foods and searching for silver bullets. Thanks for the tip.

  • JoAnn  on  1/7/2013 at 12:37 PM

    I completely disagree with many of Ms Brody's points. Her assertion that organic foods are no more nutritious than non-organic foods may or may not be true, eating food grown with pesticides cannot be deemed healthy on any level. Organic foods' better flavor & better color speak for themselves; take a look at the farm-fresh, free-range eggs I buy vs the anemic colored yolks of a mainstream grocery store egg laid by a warehoused hen (yes, non-caged!, but warehoused), for starters. Additionally, her claim that farmed fish is healthy if raised in appropriate conditions is questionable in itself, in my opinion; but I have yet to read or view anything on an actual farm doing things the "right" way; until I do and know its source, I avoid farmed fish; any I've eaten has tasted horrible (Atlantic salmon tops the list). Sadly, I do not believe that the FDA has the best interests of the public as its priority. I noted that Ms Brody does have a strong background in science, which helped explain to me some of her views. I've seen her books around, and now know to avoid them as our philosophies on food are at opposite ends of the spectrum. "Chemical" does not belong on my dinner plate; I prefer to eat foods with ingredients I am familiar with, that I can pronounce, and that existed in the day of my grandparents.

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