Here are the six biggest sources of dietary mis-information that have not only not made Americans any healthier, but they’ve added to our rates of chronic disease and our widening backsides.
Mistake #1: Avoid saturated fats to prevent heart disease
Please get this through your head right now: Your body must have saturated fats.
Saturated fats are needed by your body to protect your nerve cells, produce hormones, keep your cell membranes healthy, help your body assimilate the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K and help your brain and nervous system with transmitting nerve impulses.
The average person needs about 30 percent of their daily calories to come from fats, and about one-third of those should be saturated fats.
Good sources of saturated fats include fats from animal sources (meat, butter, lard, suet, milk, eggs and cheese)--preferably organic, as well as avocados.
What you SHOULD avoid at all cost are trans-fats. They are the fats that will guarantee a trip to the cardiologist for you.
Mistake #2: Having a low-cholesterol diet helps reduce your cholesterol
Only 25 percent or less of the cholesterol in your body is from your food--your liver and other cells produce the vast majority (at least 75 percent) of it.
The true relationship between your diet and cholesterol pertains to your LIVER.
Your diet has a huge impact on the health of your liver, and it’s your liver that monitors your cholesterol level and eliminates old, worn-out cholesterol from your body.
Plus digestion is key here too. When you have poor digestion and/or chronic constipation, old cholesterol that your liver is trying to discard can instead get reabsorbed back into circulation and raise your cholesterol level.
The health of your arteries also plays a role. When you have inflammation in your blood vessels, this triggers your liver to summon cholesterol to the scene as a healing salve.
Chronic inflammation in your blood vessels is frequently caused by high glucose levels resulting from a large intake of refined carbs. Refined carbs turn to sugar upon digestion, and sugar is very abrasive to your arterial walls.
So if you’re really worried about cholesterol, ditch the refined carbs and concentrate on healthful real foods.
Mistake #3: Artificial sweeteners help you lose weight
I can't tell you how many overweight or obese people I’ve met that regularly drink diet soda.
See anything wrong with that picture?
The fact is, the aspartame (aka Equal® or NutraSweet®) used in sugar-free foods may have zero calories, but your body isn't fooled.
When it gets a tease of a "sweet" taste, it expects calories to follow. And when this doesn't occur that leads to distortions in your biochemistry that actually lead to weight GAIN as well as increase your cravings for sweets.
Stay away from artificial sweeteners at all cost.
Mistake #4: Whole grains are always good for you
Although they are more nutritious than highly refined grains (like white bread and pasta), whole grains are still starches which are converted to sugar upon digestion.
So they can contribute to weight gain and insulin resistance, and also put you in trouble for arterial inflammation.
Although an occasional plate of whole-grain pasta or soup with whole grain bread is fine, the best go-to choices for carbohydrates are vegetables and legumes.
Mistake #5: Fish is a better choice than red meat
Saturated fats in moderation are needed by your body—and by moderation I mean things like butter on your toast or vegetables or a 4-ounce serving of beef (preferably organic).
Although fish can be very good for you, much depends on what kind you’re choosing.
Farm-raised fish are given antibiotics to stave off diseases that result from inhumanely crowded conditions and are also treated with pesticides to combat sea lice—and whatever is in the fish becomes a part of YOU.
Plus farmed fish has fewer usable Omega-3 EFAs than wild-caught fish and a higher concentration of Omega-6 EFAs. So it can contribute to an inflammation-causing imbalance of Omega-6: Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Farmed fish has also been found to have a 20 percent lower protein content than wild-caught fish.
In addition, studies have found that cancer-causing polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) exist in farm-raised salmon at 16 times the rate of wild salmon.
There’s no wiggle room here: If you want fish, buy only fresh wild-caught varieties.
Mistake #6: A low-salt diet always helps with high blood pressure
A high sodium diet can lead to increased water and blood volume and drive up blood pressure.
But just as much of a hypertension concern is too little potassium—in other words, a sodium/potassium imbalance.
Sodium and potassium work together as a team in the “sodium-potassium pump” which helps control calcium levels in your cells.
But when you have too little potassium, this pump doesn’t work properly. That can drive up cellular calcium levels which can cause the smooth muscle cells in your arteries to contract, driving up your blood pressure.
So while it’s wise to avoid processed foods (which are the leading cause of excess sodium in most people’s diets) at the same time, don’t forget about potassium.
Dietary sources of potassium include: Greens, spinach, winter squashes, cantaloupe, Brussels sprouts, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli and carrots.