Written by: Ava Elliott, Marketing Intern & Future Dietitian
Reviewed by: Devon Kroesché, MS, RDN, LDN
A lot of misinformation is out there, including nutrition claims. When you need nutrition advice, a dietitian is your best friend because they are the food and nutrition professionals that research science and provide you with evidence-based recommendations. Can you say that about everyone on the internet? Let’s dig into some nutrition myths that are spreading.
“Seeds oils are bad for you.”
There has been a lot of talk about seed oils being bad lately–let’s look at the science behind these claims. Seed oils come from plants or seeds and contain different types of fats. First, I’d like to point out that our bodies need fat (one of our macronutrients) for many functions like a source of energy, absorb other nutrients, produce hormones, support function of our cells, etc.1 Our bodies obtain fat from plant and animal sources. Plant sources include olive oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, and sunflower oil to name a few. A few animal sources include butter, lard, and milk fat. In general, plant oils provide our bodies with more monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats–the ones that provide heart healthy benefits and are healthful. Animal oils provide more saturated and trans fats–the oils we want less of in our dietary patterns. That being said, most plant oils are pressed from seeds to extract the healthful oils.2 Therefore, we actually want seed oils in our diet to provide essential fatty acids that our bodies can’t make.3 These omega-3 fatty acids are found in plant and seed oils like flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils.3
“Processed foods are unhealthy.”
I’ve heard many people claim processed foods are unhealthy, so I want to share some research about this nutrition myth. First, let's define “processed foods” for a clearer picture. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) defines processed foods as any commodity that has been changed via washing, cooking, baking, smoking, marinating, milling, chopping, heating, or has been canned, packaged, frozen, dried, pasteurized, blanched or altering its natural state in any way.4,5 Now after reading this definition, are you thinking that not all processed foods are “unhealthy?” Are you thinking when you cook or prepare food and now it is defined as a “processed food,” is it still unhealthy? For example, think about a bag of spinach–a “processed” item–but spinach provides our bodies with many nutrients like potassium, fiber, iron, and zinc. There is a wide range of processing, and the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ranks minimally processed foods to mostly processed foods as:6
- Minimal processed foods like fresh strawberries, bagged spinach, cut fruit, and roasted peanuts are prepared for convenience to make cooking and preparing foods more efficient
- These are processed to maintain the highest nutritional content and quality: canned tuna, frozen fruits and vegetables, canned olives
- Foods with added flavor and ingredients for added texture like, spices, oils, sweeteners, and other preservatives–yogurt, pasta sauce, granola bars, cupcake mixes
- Ready-to-eat foods are mostly processed like crackers, cereal, deli meat, and frozen meals
Overall, stating that processed foods are unhealthy isn’t the full picture. To minimize intake of foods with higher processing, you can aim to cook and prepare foods at home or eat whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes. Or if you are choosing a ready-to-eat frozen dinner, focus on what you can add to it. For example, for a chicken and rice meal you can add vegetables to your plate or some yogurt and fruit for dessert.
“Eating makes me bloated.”
Eating can sometimes cause bloating, but not always. When our bodies digest food, gas is a natural byproduct produced and can sometimes make us feel bloated.7 Additionally, fiber can cause slight bloating if you do not consume a lot routinely. With gradual intake of fiber from whole fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, fiber will help your digestive system do its job, and bloating will not occur much. Sometimes, bloating can happen from a digestive issue if you have a food intolerance or other complications.7 Hormones can also cause bloating, like during your menstrual cycle. The good thing is that it comes and goes and is not of concern. Drinking enough water throughout the day will encourage digestion as well as moving; going for a walk with your dog, jogging, walking up and down the stairs in your house will all help your digestive system and bloating reduction. Focus on eating slower and practicing mindfulness (read about Mindful Eating & Slowing Down) to aid in digestion.7
Please email email@example.com to work with one of our dietitians if you'd like to discuss more myths. Also, stay tuned for part two for more!
1. American Heart Association editorial staff. Dietary Fats. American Heart Association. Updated November 1, 2021. Accessed March 16, 2023. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/healthy-eating/eat-smart/fats/dietary-fats
2. Native Plant Oils. United States Department of Agriculture. Updated 2023. Accessed March 16, 2023. https://www.fs.usda.gov/wildflowers/ethnobotany/oils.shtml
3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. National Institutes of Health. Updated July 18, 2022. Accessed March 18, 2023. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Omega3FattyAcids-Consumer/
4. Harguth A. What you should know about processed foods. Mayo Clinic Health System. Published March 21, 2022. Accessed March 18. 2023. https://www.mayoclinichealthsystem.org/hometown-health/speaking-of-health/processed-foods-what-you-should-know
5. USDA Country of Origin Labeling. Frequently Asked Questions. USDA. Updated 2021. Accessed March 18, 2023. https://www.ams.usda.gov/sites/default/files/media/FAQs%20for%20Consumers%20-%20English.pdf
6. Klemm S. Processed Foods: A Closer Look. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Published February 11, 2019. Updated January 30, 2023. Accessed March 19, 2023. https://www.eatright.org/health/wellness/diet-trends/processed-foods-whats-ok-and-what-to-avoid
7. Bloated Stomach. Cleveland Clinic. Updated September 10, 2021. Accessed March 19, 2023. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/symptoms/21740-bloated-stomach
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