Four More Nutrition Myths

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Last month I highlighted unfounded nutrition myths that seem to endure. This month I’m highlighting four more that, despite the best efforts of nutrition experts, may still influence your food choices.

“Soy causes cancer.”

Whether or not we can safely consume soy is a topic that comes up frequently. Soy is one of the best sources of plant-based protein. But it’s important to understand what it offers us—and what it doesn’t. A serving of edamame (soybean) offers 8 grams of protein, beneficial fiber, and an assortment of micronutrients. And soy milk is the only dairy alternative that’s also protein-rich. This means it’s the dairy-free option that offers almost the same composition as cow’s milk.

The cancer myth emerged because soy is also rich in isoflavones, which are a type of phytoestrogens. And phytoestrogens can attach to estrogen receptors and influence estrogen metabolism. As a result, some believe that soy’s estrogen-like behavior may increase the risk of certain cancers. However, health and nutrition experts are confident that soy is not harmful. In fact, studies show that soy can actually reduce the risk of cancer and suppress tumor growth, slowing cancer progression. The bottom line: experts in cancer research encourage soy consumption.

“Only the perimeter of the grocery store has nutritious food.”

Wait. What?! At Guiding Stars we’re quick to debunk this myth. While this may have been good guidance at some point, it’s no longer true in 2023. Today’s supermarket aisles are full of better-for-you packaged foods that make it easier to create well-balanced meals. Look for microwavable whole-grain pouches, low-sodium canned goods, sustainably caught canned fish, frozen berries, and more. And rely on Guiding Stars to easily and quickly locate nutritious options throughout the aisles.

“Plant-based foods are better for me.”

It’s true that a plant-based diet provides fiber, whole grains, protein, vitamins, and minerals. However, not all plant-based products are a healthy solution to consuming less added salt, sugar, and saturated fat. For example, packaged, plant-based burgers may be made with more salt and saturated fat than you realize. In fact, an equivalent serving of very lean sirloin often has less! Guiding Stars’ recommendation? A balanced approach that highlights vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

“Apple cider vinegar aids in weight loss.”

Folks are often drawn to ideas that they’ve heard will give them a boost. One popular idea is that the daily consumption of apple cider vinegar (ACV) will help you lose weight. And there is some evidence that acetic acid, found in ACV, may help the body suppress body fat. But overall, the benefits of ACV for weight loss are a myth that science just doesn’t support. The positive results from small, short-term studies are unreliable. The amounts of ACV given are unclear, and some subjects were also following a calorie-restricted diet. And ACV can have negative effects as well! Undiluted, it can cause damage to dental enamel and digestive discomfort. Guiding Stars’ suggestion? Stay away from “quick-fix” remedies and always beware of weight-loss strategies that don’t include lowering caloric intake or increasing exercise.