The public is becoming more educated about health and nutrition thanks to a growing holistic health movement, the internet, and books. For the same reasons it's a blessing, it's also a curse. There is a lot of faulty information out there. Anyone can set up a blog and say anything. As a nutritionist, I am constantly being bombarded with "facts" that people heard from a friend, read online, or are simply urban legend. Another issue is that nutrition information is dynamic, and as we learn more, the information changes. Let's start by taking a look at a few of myths that were once considered truths.
Coconut oil causes heart disease
This tropical oil is more a super food than the cause of heart disease. It contains medium-chain-triglycerides (MCT) which are easily digested fats which help the body efficiently burn fat and support a healthy metabolism. As with all food, the quality does matter. You want the oil to be virgin and unrefined. When we start chemically altering natural substances, is when they become a whole less healthy.
Eat a low-fat diet to lose weight
When the body does not get enough fat, it holds onto what it already has. Also, when you remove fat from foods it typically gets replaced with simple carbs like sugar and wheat, which cause cravings and are far more harmful to the waist-line than healthy fat. Of course chemically altered fats such as transfats (hydrogenated oils) or anything deep fried aren't recommended. Instead go for avocado, coconut, nuts, seeds, pasture-raised eggs, and grass-fed meat and butter.
Avoid all cholesterol because it leads to heart disease
While too much of any substance will cause imbalances in the body, we actually do need cholesterol to live. It helps break down fats, strengthens cell membranes, insulates nerves, and is necessary for hormone production. Once again the quality of the food (fuel) will determine how the body uses it, so choosing fats from whole foods vs. from processed and fast foods it optimal.