Behind most food and nutrition myths, there's a kernel of truth. We separate the science from the silliness.
When I was a teenager, I steered clear of chocolate. Not because of the calories or even the fat (which was considered the ultimate evil back in the ’70s). It was because I had read, somewhere, that chocolate caused acne—and the last thing I wanted was zits. Years later, I was relieved to learn that studies had unequivocally shown there was no connection between chocolate and skin problems, and that some types of chocolate, in fact, may even be good for you.
So it was jarring when I recently heard a mom urge her daughter to get a vanilla ice cream cone instead of a chocolate one, saying, “Chocolate gives you acne, you know.”
Why do some nutrition myths die and others keep bouncing back, even in the face of what seems to be incontrovertible evidence? “Let’s face it, myths and misinformation are much more seductive than the truth,” says Keith-Thomas Ayoob, Ed.D., R.D., professor of pediatrics at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. A balanced diet, enough sleep and regular exercise are usually the best course for fighting diseases and staying healthy, he notes, “and that just isn’t as interesting to people.”
In reality, the most persistent nutrition myths are those that contain at least a kernel of truth—and some “myths” help us get to real dietary wisdom that actually might help our health. Here’s a cold, hard, science-based look at some of the most oft-repeated ones and what really is the truth behind them.