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6 Nutrition Myths We’re Going to Finally Set Straight for You

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(Photo: Food 52)

Dieting is hard enough without having to sort through whether or not the information you think you know is right or wrong; that's why it's so important to research before you make any major diet changes. It's also crucial to be able to spot a nutrition myth when you hear one! Do any of these diet myths surprise you?

MYTH: Cholesterol is bad for you. The myth that cholesterol leads to heart disease couldn't be farther from the truth, according to Dr. Joseph Mercola. "Not only is cholesterol most likely not going to destroy your health (as you have been led to believe), but it is also not the cause of heart disease," Dr. Mercola wrote. Dr. Mercola also goes on to dispute the myth that there are "good" (LDL) and "bad" (HDL) forms of cholesterol. "Notice please that LDL and HDL are lipoproteins — fats combined with proteins. There is only one cholesterol. There is no such thing as “good” or “bad” cholesterol. Cholesterol is just cholesterol."

In fact, if your body's cholesterol levels are too low, your body would have trouble producing hormones, vitamin D and substances that help you digest foods.

MYTH: Dark breads are healthier than white breads. Here's a quick trick to remember when you're at the grocery store. Some wheat bread isn't whole wheat bread. The first ingredient listed should be "100 percent whole wheat" or another grain like barley or oats. You'll want to avoid bread that lists "enriched wheat flour"; that just means that many vitamins and most of the bread's fiber and protein have been removed.

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(Photo: Food 52)

MYTH: All calories are created equal. Different foods help your body in different ways. For example, you might lose weight by eating 1,400 calories a day in Pop-Tarts, but the lack of nutrition in those empty calories will cause your body to suffer big time. Different foods follow different metabolic pathways and have varying effects on hunger levels, hormones and fat burning. 

MYTH: Red meat increases the risk of heart-related diseases. We've all heard this one, and we probably all know someone who is cutting red meat from their diet. Here's the deal: Processed meat is linked to heart disease and diabetes, not all red meat. 

MYTH: Diet sodas help keep you slim. The artificial sweeteners in diet soda (aspartame and sucralose) actually lead to unhealthy cravings later in the day. In fact, a University of Texas study found that those who consume three diet sodas per week were more than 40 percent more likely to be obese.

MYTH: Potatoes are empty carbs and have next to no nutritional value. Potatoes contain more potassium than a banana and are excellent sources of vitamins C and B6. They're even high in antioxidants. These guys get a bad rap. Michelle Dudash, an Arizona-based nutritionist said, "If you keep portion sizes in check—no more than one medium potato in a given meal—and eat the fiber-rich skin, potatoes make a satisfying, low-cal, nutrient-rich side dish."