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Reviewed by the Faculty of Harvard Medical School

Common Myths

  1. Myth: Organic foods are more nutritious than non-organic foods.
  2. Organic foods contain the same nutrients as non-organic foods and in the same amounts. The only advantage of organic foods is that they contain little or no pesticides or herbicides. Foods may contain carcinogens whether grown organically or not.

  3. Myth: White sugar is bad for you.
  4. All sugars — including honey, molasses and corn syrup — are created equal from a nutritional standpoint, and white table sugar is no better or worse for you than any other. Too much sugar of any kind can be bad for your health, however, because sugar contains calories (which provide energy) but no vitamins, minerals or other nutrients. Sugar is especially bad for the teeth.

  5. Myth: Foods that are high in fiber are also high in calories.
  6. High-fiber foods — whole grains, legumes (beans, peas and lentils) and fresh fruits and vegetables — are actually lower in calories than most other foods because they contain practically no fat. It's only when they're mixed with fats and other foods or eaten in large quantities that high-fiber foods provide large amounts of calories.

  7. Myth: Vitamins provide energy.
  8. Only calories from carbohydrates, protein and fat provide energy. Some vitamins are essential to use the energy present in the foods we absorb, but consuming an excess of them will not make more energy than what is in the food.

  9. Myth: Fasting eliminates toxins from the body.
  10. While fasting for a day or two probably won't do any harm, and might be psychologically useful in slowing down bad eating habits, there's no evidence that it actually "cleans out" the body by eliminating toxic waste. Basically, your digestive system needs time off from doing its job no more than your heart needs "a rest."

Last updated May 11, 2008