Brain and Body

8 Widespread Nutrition Myths: Debunked by Science

October 14, 2015 | Kelly Tatera

Orange slice
Photo credit: Adrià Ariste Santacreu/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Contrary to popular belief, oranges aren’t the best way to get Vitamin C.  


1.  Bananas are the best source of potassium.

False. While bananas are certainly a good source of potassium, containing about 420 mg per regular sized banana, potatoes contain even more. According to Livestrong, an average-sized baked potato with the skin provides about 1,000 mg of potassium. Even without the skin, the yummy insides contain around 600 mg.

2.  You’re hyper because of a sugar “high.”

According to Yale Scientific, there is no substantial evidence to support the claim that sugar causes hyperactivity. Although you’re certain that Skittles and candy bars are to blame for the bouncing-off-the-wall behavior of your kids, the brain is actually unable to store extra sugar. In reality, overconsumption of sugar can lead to some symptoms that seem like hyperactivity. Research has linked high amounts of sugar in breakfast cereal to a lower attention span than whole grain cereal. But the whole “sugar high” claim is unsupported by science, and researchers speculate the myth has only persisted this long due to the mind tricks of psychology.

3.  Eating extra protein will get you jacked.

Sorry to break it to all of the meat-loving and protein-powder-worshipping gym rats, but loading your body up with extra protein isn’t going to build extra muscle. Roberta Anding, a registered dietician and American Dietetic Association spokesperson, told Active, “To build muscle, you must have three key components: adequate calories, a good intake of protein and a good strength program." Without the other two, extra protein will simply be stored as fat or burned for energy.

4.  Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs.

Incorrect. In fact, the biggest difference between the two is that brown eggs can cost up to 25 percent more than white. The nutritional values of brown eggs and white eggs are actually the same, and their difference in color can be explained surprisingly easily: brown eggs come from a different breed of hens — typically larger — than those that lay white eggs.

5.  Dark breads are more nutritious than white breads.

Yet another popular nutrition myth based solely on the color of our foods. You might be surprised to hear that “wheat bread” isn’t the same thing as “whole wheat bread,” and unless you read the ingredients on bread packaging, you’ll never know what you’re truly getting. Some dark breads are sneakily colored with caramel or other coloring, so they have no more nutritional value than a colored white bread. To make the healthiest sandwiches and breakfast toasts, make sure the first ingredient listed is “100 percent whole wheat” or other grains like oats and barley.

6.  Oranges are the best source for Vitamin C.

Anyone trying to fulfill their daily dose of Vitamin C likely runs to the store and grabs a bottle of orange juice or some oranges to snack on. However, there are better ways to get all of the Vitamin C you need. According to Health, a medium-sized orange provides about 69.7 mg of Vitamin C, but red bell peppers have almost three times that amount! Broccoli, strawberries, cauliflower, kiwi, and mango all have more Vitamin C than oranges as well.

7.  All grain products are “bad carbs.”

More of a misnomer than a myth, but believe it or not, carbs are literally in everything we eat. Fruits, veggies, and whole grains are complex carbs, and also a healthy energy source. The problem carbs that seem to have tainted the entire group of grains are “refined carbs,” found in white bread, pasta, and sugar. Grains are a critical component of our diet since they provide a number of nutrients, like iron, magnesium, and fiber. So think twice about that Atkins Diet.

8.  Eating certain foods, like celery and grapefruit, can actually burn fat.

Not true. No foods can cause you to burn fat. Although it would be convenient to snack on celery or grapefruit all day and shed a pound or two by day’s end, it’s just not possible. There are foods, however, that can speed up your metabolism for a short time, like spicy foods and some foods with caffeine. It would be nice if weight loss were that simple, but unfortunately eating healthy meals and exercising are the only way to sculpt a dreamy physique.


Next time someone pipes up about one of these popular nutrition myths, please — for the sake of science — politely inform them that they are mistaken.

More Science Myths Debunked: You’ve Been Lied to — Water Doesn’t Prevent Hangovers

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