Fact, Fiction or Fickle: Nutrition Myths

We ask local nutrition experts if these myths are fact, fiction or fickle.

This week, we tackle myths surrounding nutrition. Check back next week when we bust beauty myths.


Expert: Meg Marie O’Rourke, RD-LDN, Harmony with Food

Myth: Dark Chocolate is good for you.


In moderation (think one ounce per day), quality dark chocolate is very nutritious; it’s rich in antioxidants, fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese and a few other minerals. Studies show that dark chocolate can improve health and lower the risk of heart disease. Just make sure that the chocolate you purchase has a cocoa content of 65 percent or higher.


Myth: All of your produce should be bought organic.


The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has come up with a list called the “Dirty Dozen,” which are foods that have tested positive for various pesticides. These are fruits and veggies that you should attempt to buy organically. For 2017, they include strawberries, spinach, nectarines, apples, peaches, celery, grapes, pears, cherries, tomatoes, sweet bell peppers and potatoes. The EWG also came up with a list of produce that have lower pesticides called “The Clean Fifteen,” which means they’re safe to buy from a regular market. This includes sweet corn, avocados, pineapples, cabbage, onions, frozen sweet peas, papaya, asparagus, mangoes, eggplant, honeydew melon, kiwis, cantaloupe, cauliflower and grapefruit.

Myth: Sugary and fast food items can be as addictive as some drugs.

F A C T 

Yes, foods like sugar, salt and fat can be addictive. The obesity rate in the United States is more than 30 percent, mainly because we are consuming more salt and sugar in our foods than ever before. Studies show that people who consume too much sugar have brain waves similar to a person taking heroin. We need to understand how factors like stress and emotional trauma prompt us to over-eat.

Myth: Skipping breakfast will make you gain weight.


I do not feel that skipping breakfast or lunch is the real culprit for most people. The real culprits are heavy weeknight dinners and late-night snacking. A solution to this is to plan during the weekend what you’ll eat for dinner every day over the week. This way, you won’t come home hungry and just grab the first thing you see.

Myth: A glass of wine with dinner is good for your heart.

F A C T 

Red wine, in moderation, can be good for your heart as it contains an ingredient called resveratrol, which is considered to be “heart-healthy.” Most experts recommend one glass of wine for women and two for men.

Myth: Cleanses live up to all of the media buzz.


No, I say hold on to your wallets. Our bodies are very efficient at metabolizing food and getting rid of waste. When you do a cleanse, it usually lowers your calorie and protein intake. When you go low in protein or calories, you will lose muscle mass and make your metabolism slower.

Myth: People shouldn’t bother with multivitamins.


If it is not going to break your budget, multivitamins are a good idea. None of us are consuming 100 percent of what we need every day. Food is always the best way to obtain the macronutrients and micronutrients required, but if it’s not possible, multivitamins can be a good idea.



Myth: New Englanders are at higher risk for vitamin D deficiency.


In general, Rhode Islanders should be checking their vitamin D levels since most of us do not get the recommended ten to fifteen minutes of sun daily that is needed to activate vitamin D production. In addition, when we do go out in the sun, we wear (or should be wearing) sunscreen which prevents vitamin D synthesis. Check with your physician to see if you are at risk for a deficiency; they may recommend or prescribe vitamin D.