A few months ago we used this space to talk about some of the most common nutrition myths found on diet and fitness sites across the Internet. As noted at the time, we were merely touching the tip of the iceberg with the misconceptions we chose to focus on in that piece, so we’re going to continue busting even more myths for you right now.
Myth: Cooking with extra-virgin olive oil spoils its health benefits.
Fact: This is a longstanding myth that seems to be gaining in traction as the years go on rather than diminishing, but it’s completely false. Olive oil is deemed “heart healthy” in large part because it is replete with monounsaturated fats. These fats are unaffected by the high heat associated with frying and sautéing—provided that the temperature remains below the smoking point of approximately 405˚ F—which means you can go ahead and use EVOO in your daily cooking.
Myth: Refined white sugar should be avoided at all costs.
Fact: White sugar gets a bad rap in diet and nutrition circles, and most of the time this is well-deserved. Sugar does, after all, add empty calories to your food and too much of it can indeed wreak havoc on your blood glucose levels, your mood, and your waistline.
But reasonable quantities of sugar—no more than six teaspoons per day, according to the American Heart Association—can make healthy food more palatable, help satisfy junk food cravings, and ease feelings of deprivation, all of which are important to long-term dieting success.
Our advice is to stay away from prepackaged foods such as fruit-filled yogurts and flavored instant oatmeal that come preloaded with sugar. Instead, buy the plain varieties of these items and add a very moderate amount of sugar on your own.
Myth: Eating after 8 p.m. (or 9 p.m. or 10 p.m., etc.) causes weight gain.
Fact: We’ve all heard some version of this myth, with accompanying warnings that any calories consumed after the witching hour will instantly settle into our thighs, butt, or belly as unwanted fat. But since the body does not have a Cinderella-like quality that recognizes cutoff times for caloric intake, there’s simply no basis to this claim. So eating after 8 p.m. doesn’t automatically result in weight gain — and may even be necessary for proper refueling if you prefer to work out at night. The key here, as at any time of the day, is to make healthy choices and refrain from overindulging.
Following sound nutritional advice is just as important to sustained health and fitness as regular exercise, so don’t be duped by the above myths. Try to research and verify similar food claims as thoroughly as possible on your own before adopting any new rules for your diet plan.