Soy milk can raise the risk of breast cancer. Fat-free foods are healthier than high-fat foods. Vegans and vegetarians are deficient in protein. Some false ideas about nutrition seem to linger in American culture like a terrible song stuck in your head.
So to set the record straight, we asked 10 of the top nutrition experts in the United States a simple question: What is one nutrition myth you wish would go away — and why? Here’s what they said.
Despite the enduring belief that “fresh is best,” research has found that frozen, canned and dried fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious as their fresh counterparts.
“They can also be a money saver and an easy way to make sure there are always fruits and vegetables available at home,” said Sara Bleich, the outgoing director of nutrition security and health equity at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and a professor of public health policy at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. One caveat: Some canned, frozen and dried varieties contain sneaky ingredients like added sugars, saturated fats and sodium, Dr. Bleich said, so be sure to read nutrition labels and opt for products that keep those ingredients to a minimum.
When studies published in the late 1940s found correlations between high-fat diets and high levels of cholesterol, experts reasoned that if you reduced the amount of total fats in your diet, your risk for heart disease would go down. By the 1980s, doctors, federal health experts, the food industry and the news media were reporting that a low-fat diet could benefit everyone, even though there was no solid evidence that doing so would prevent issues like heart disease or overweight and obesity.