Carbs Make You Fat and Other Myths

By Michele C. Hollow  @michelechollow
October 24, 2016

We’ve all heard that carbohydrates make you fat, eating chocolate causes zits, and that eggs are bad for you.

Remember when we were told to avoid eating eggs? The yolks contain about 213 mg of cholesterol, and we all know high cholesterol levels can cause heart problems. So we ordered egg white omelets and limited or gave up this near perfect food. 

Near perfect food? Yes. We now have information proving that eggs are good for us. Yes, health information can be confusing.


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A study published in the British Journal of Medicine reviewed 17 different egg studies and found that eating up to one egg per day is not associated with increased risk of coronary heart disease or stroke. 

“Most of the studies I’ve seen conclude that eggs are fine,” said Katherine Tallmadge, MA, RN, nutritionist. “Some studies note that eggs may even improve your health, as they contain nutrients difficult to find in other foods.”

Those nutrients include protein, choline (used for brain function), lutein and zeaxanthin (both help prevent eye diseases such as cataracts and age-related macular degeneration), and vitamin D (it’s important for our bones and teeth).

So we can cross eggs off our list of foods to avoid. What about the other food myths that still persist? Following are a few popular ones:

Carbs make you fat

Since the first anti-carb book appeared on the bestseller lists (“Dr. Atkins’ Diet Revolution,” 1972), several books touting low-carb, high-protein diets followed. 

“There’s nothing inherently fattening about carbohydrates,” said Jean Harvey-Berino, PhD, RD, chair of the department of nutrition and food sciences at the University of Vermont. “It’s eating too many calories, period, that makes you fat.”

It’s smart to limit eating highly-processed white flour foods and sugar, which can increase your risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. You can enjoy the good carbohydrates, such as whole grains, beans, fruits, and vegetables. 

Chocolate causes acne

A study from Henri Mondor Hospital in France that linked daily chocolate consumption with acne is inconclusive because researchers didn’t look at the entire picture. They didn’t question other sugary foods consumed or the lifestyles of their subjects. “There have been thorough and correctly conducted studies on chocolate, and there’s never been anything that pointed to it causing acne,” said Diane Walder, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist.

Low fat foods are better for you

“Without fat, the human body is unable to absorb a large percentage of the nutrients needed to survive,” said Alannah DiBona, a nutritionist and wellness counselor. “The right fats in the proper amounts can actually aid in weight loss and cholesterol management.” (A few good fats include peanut butter and other nuts, avocados, and olives.)

Dairy is the best source for strong bones

Not so fast. Yes, you can get calcium from cheese and other dairy products. However, Andy Bellatti, RD, suggests opting for dark leafy greens for your calcium source. “Vitamin K is important for bone health, and dark leafy greens have it; dairy doesn’t.” He suggests eating collard greens, mustard greens, kale, and bok choy.

We all need to drink eight glasses of water each day

It seems that this myth won’t die. It started ages ago when a group of doctors tried to keep us from drinking sodas and other sugary drinks. “Proper hydration is necessary for just about anything body- and mind-related,” said DiBona. “However, 64 ounces per day isn’t necessarily the right number for you. It’s important to keep hydrated, but don’t stick to this arbitrary rule of how much to drink. Nutrition is an individual science, and there will be days when your body and mind require less than the average recommendation.”

It’s healthier to drink wine than beer

Not true! “Wine, beer, and liquor, in moderate doses, raise the body’s good cholesterol, which protects the heart against plaque build-up that may cause strokes and heart attacks, DiBona said. “One to two alcoholic beverages per day help reduce the risks of heart disease.”


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April 09, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN