The Truth Behind Nutrition Folklore

HCA image for food myths Do you eat carrots because they are good for your eyes, avoid chocolate because it makes you break out, or not let your kids eat sugar because it will make them hyper? Unfortunately, when stacked up against medical facts, many of these beliefs are misperceptions. Test your knowledge of nutrition folklore by answering the questions below.

Do Eggs Raise Your Cholesterol Levels?

Although egg yolks contain cholesterol (about 180-220 milligrams [mg]), many scientists think that eating foods high in saturated fats and trans-fats has a greater impact than dietary cholesterol in raising blood cholesterol levels.

There is some controversy about how much eggs affect heart disease risk, but that is not the case with cholesterol. Newer dietary guidelines do not put a limit on dietary cholesterol intake, but people should consume as little as possible. This means if you eat one or two eggs in the morning, you should carefully keep track of other foods you eat the rest of the day. As an option, consider eating just the egg whites. If you do eat the whole egg, you can focus on diet-friendly foods like fruits, vegetables, or lean proteins to minimize your intake.

Eggs are a source of high quality protein and provide many vitamins and minerals, including the amino acid tryptophan, selenium, vitamin A, iodine, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12, vitamin D, among other nutrients.

Does Eating Chocolate or Other Sugary Foods Give You Acne?

There is no scientific evidence that eating any food, including chocolate or other sugary foods, leads to acne. Acne results from a combination of factors such as heredity, overactive oil glands, dead skin cells that block skin pores, and hormonal changes. However, some new research has been done that suggest that nutrition-related lifestyle factors may play a role in the development of acne. Specifically, a low glycemic index diet has been associated with improvement of acne.

Will Carrots Improve Your Vision?

It is true that carrots are rich in beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Vitamin A is essential for sight, and an extreme vitamin A deficiency can cause blindness. But, only a small amount of beta-carotene is necessary for good vision. So, if you are not deficient in vitamin A, your vision will not improve no matter how many carrots you eat. Nonetheless, carrots make a great contribution to your recommended vegetable intake.

Does Sugar Make You Hyper?

Many studies have looked at the effect of sugar on children’s behavior and none have found evidence of a sugar high, even in children who have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Keep in mind, however, that there are healthy and unhealthy sources of sugar. Natural sources of sugar, like fruit, add other important nutrients to your child's diet. This is not the case when sugar is added to foods like candy and soda.

Does Eating Chicken Noodle Soup Help You Get Over a Cold?

Researchers have not been able to prove that chicken noodle soup can cure the common cold, but they have developed theories to explain the apparent healing properties of this popular home remedy. Some believe that steam from the hot soup clears congested noses and throats. Others believe that it may have inherent anti-inflammatory effects, thereby providing symptom relief. Still others say it is purely psychological. In any case, there is no known cure for the common cold. If you’re sick, what you need to do is drink fluids and get plenty of rest.

Will Eating Carbohydrates Make You Gain Weight?

Low-carbohydrate diets are popular these days, but the truth of the matter is that carbohydrate foods are an important source of energy, fiber, vitamins, and minerals for your body. Carbohydrates, like any other type of food, can cause you to gain weight if you burn fewer calories than you consume. So, if you want to lose weight, do so by eating less of any type of food, exercising more, or doing a little of both. Most adults should get about 45%-60% of their calories from carbohydrates. Under special circumstances, your doctor or nutritionist may advise you to follow a specific diet in which the carbohydrate content might be different.

Are Nuts Fattening?

Yes, nuts are fattening, if you eat too many. But, eaten in moderation, nuts can be a healthy addition to your diet. Studies have found that tree nuts, such as almonds, cashews, and walnuts, added to a healthy diet may help to reduce the risk of heart disease and improve cholesterol levels. Plus, having a serving of nuts provides nutrients like protein and the mineral manganese.

Will Eating Extra Protein Build More Muscle?

Weight training is the key to building and strengthening muscle. The only way to build bigger, stronger muscles is to exercise them. To fuel heavy weight training, the body needs extra calories, especially from carbohydrates. If you eat excessive amounts of protein, the extra calories will simply be stored as fat or burned. According to the US Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate website, most adults need 5 to 6-½ ounces (142-184 grams) of protein per day, but this really depends on a number of factors like your gender, age, and activity level. If you are participating in a weight training routine, you may want to work with a nutritionist to make sure that you are getting the nutrients that you need.

Is Red Meat Bad For You?

Red meat, which includes beef, veal, lamb, pork, and wild game, contains saturated fat. But, it also provides an excellent source of the minerals iron and zinc, vitamin B12, and protein. A review of 17 studies found that processed meat, not red meat, increases the risk of heart disease and diabetes. And, compared to lean white meat, lean red meat does not seem to worsen cholesterol levels.

If you trim visible fat and choose lean cuts, you will minimize your saturated fat intake. Note, too, the select grade of meat is lower in fat than choice and prime grades. Also, be aware that a serving size is just 2-3 ounces (56-85 grams) of cooked meat. Also, you may want to choose meat that comes from organic farms, where the animals are allowed to graze and use of hormones or antibiotics is minimized.

Are Fresh Fruits and Vegetables Better for You Than Canned or Frozen?

Frozen and canned fruits and vegetables can be just as nutritious and fresh. In fact, fruits and vegetables that have traveled a long way to get here or have been sitting on grocery store shelves or in your refrigerator often lose some of their vitamins to heat, light, and water. Frozen produce tends to keep most of its nutrients because packaging occurs right after being picked. Canned produce loses some vitamins during the heating process, but still contains fiber and other nutrients. But, bear in mind, canned vegetables may be high in sodium, and canned fruits packed in syrup are high in sugar. Read the labels and look for no- or low-sodium options.


Choose My Plate—US Department of Agriculture
Eat Right—Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics


Dietitians of Canada


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All about the proteins food group. US Department of Agriculture website. Available at: Updated july 29, 2016. Accessed May 2, 2017.
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Common eye myths. Prevent Blindness America website. Available at:
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Common misconceptions about cholesterol. American Heart Association website. Available at:
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Eggs, pasture-raised. The World's Healthiest Foods website. Available at:
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Accessed May 2, 2017.
Galella J. The common cold plus hot soup equals lukewarm results. Vanderbilt University website. Available at:
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Accessed May 2, 2017.
Higher risk of heart disease, diabetes from eating processed meats. Harvard School of Public Health website. Available at: Accessed May 2, 2017.
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Upper respiratory infection (URI) in adults and adolescents. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.... Updated April 10, 2017. Accessed May 2, 2017.
Vision facts and myths. Kids Health—Nemours Foundation website. Available at:
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Updated September 2016. Accessed May 2, 2017.
Last reviewed April 2017 by Michael Woods, MD, FAAP
Last Updated: 5/2/2017

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