Going low on sodium
If you’ve ever had high blood pressure, you were probably told to cut down or stop consuming sodium. But a new study from Boston University that followed 2,600 people over 16 years found that a low-sodium diet didn’t actually lower blood pressure. So salt might not be the enemy after all—and actually, eating little salt might part of your healthy food habits. The study also found that people with the lowest intake of sodium (along with the highest) had a greater risk of heart disease than the people in the middle. But, that doesn’t mean you should go crazy eating processed foods that contain lots of sodium either. “In general, focusing on reducing processed foods, which tend to be rich in added sodium, and adding in more whole foods may be more effective than just focusing on counting milligrams of sodium when it comes to promoting heart health,” says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, author of Belly Fat Diet for Dummies. Find out the 55 health myths that need to die.
You may have heard the theory that drinking milk past infancy (or even drinking animal milk at all) is “unnatural”—as evidenced by 65 percent of people in the world being lactose intolerant. Although it is true that humans are the only species to drink milk as adults—or to drink milk regularly from other animals—research has shown we’ve genetically evolved to adapt to it. And in fact, milk products actually play an important role in our health. “Dairy is rich in beneficial nutrients such as whey protein, conjugated linoleic acid, and calcium,” Palinski-Wade says. Some past research has shown that low-fat dairy could help lower blood pressure, but new research also finds benefits to full-fat dairy. Surprisingly, a recent study found that those who ate full-fat dairy (but not low fat) gained less weight, possibly because it keeps you fuller longer. It also may reduce diabetes and heart disease risk.
Not consuming fat
As with dairy, eating fat in general may not be such a bad thing when it comes to food habits. The scientific community is still debating the benefits of saturated fat, but other types of fats are actually good for you in moderation, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “Plant-based fats such as monounsaturated fats found in foods like almonds and avocado, and omega-3 fatty acids found in fish offer many health benefits,” Palinski-Wade says. “These fats may reduce inflammation, improve blood lipid levels, and may even promote a lower body weight.” Plus, many processed foods labeled “reduced fat” have replaced the fat with sugar or additives, which actually make them more unhealthy. “Many individuals are still fat-phobic and feel that all dietary fat should be avoided, but we all remember the low-fat craze of the ’90s that caused everyone to gain weight!” Palinski-Wade says. These 10 myths about fat keep you from losing weight.