Dispelling a few food myths

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Every now and then, someone gets it right. With all the misinformation about food and nutrition floating around in the consumer media and social media, it is refreshing to occasionally come across an attempt to set things straight. A recent article from Fitness Magazine titled “The truth about common nutrition myths” does just that.

American consumers face a constant stream of these myths – that chicken is healthier than beef, that wheat is poison, that “organic” foods contain more nutrients. Many even pay premium prices for brown eggs. Whole-wheat bread and brown rice are nutritionally superior to their white counterparts, so brown eggs must be better too, right?

With regard to beef, the article notes that a typical fast-food grilled chicken sandwich contains about 350 calories compared with about 250 for a beef hamburger. The author also quotes a cardiologist saying chicken sandwiches often contain more than twice the sodium as the burger. And the article cites a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showing that people who ate about five ounces of lean beef daily as part of a healthy diet lowered their cholesterol level by the same amount as those who ate less beef.

The article also refutes common myths about salt, wheat, raw foods, fried foods and yes, brown eggs, which inside the shell are no different from white eggs.

Read the full article.

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Tom Ray    
Apex, NC  |  January, 14, 2014 at 09:04 AM

I would stronly encourage us not to get into any sort of "we are better than they are" and compete with other sectors within animal agriculture (e.g., beef versus chicken). There is plenty of room for us all at the table. We have enough of the "animal rigthts" crowd deningrating every one of us without engaging in internal one upmanship arguments. As Patrick Henry said, "We can all hang together or we will all hang seperately."

Wyo  |  January, 14, 2014 at 12:57 PM

How about the biggest myth of all……………directly promoted by our industry and checkoff board……. "Eat beef in moderation". That could not be any more factually wrong. Every bite of beef displaces a bit of food that has lower nutritional quality (including fowl). The more beef you eat……..the better nutrition you receive.

January, 15, 2014 at 06:46 AM

As with most articles on nutrition, this one oversimplifies, lumping foods together according to generalities of food type, not according to specifics of how food grows, or how animals are managed and what they eat. We are what our foods consume, whether plants or animals. People don’t get healthy popping pills. Truly good, optimally nutritious food doesn’t come from depleted soil fortified with artificial chemicals. Differences truly exist according to what specific diets our food animals consume shortly before they produce our food. Some people simply assume that brown-egg laying chickens have been grown on pasture. Some have; some haven't. White eggs from chickens that have access to green grass, for example, have much higher levels of Omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin E and beta carotene than brown eggs from chickens grown entirely indoors, never seeing the light of day. The color of the egg doesn't matter, but what the chicken eats does. Some people simply assume that beef from Angus cattle is better for them because that's what the advertising implies. Black-hided beeves that eat grain for their last 90 to 120 days of life will have a much lower percentage of Omega 3s and beta carotene, along with conjugated linoleic acid, vitamin E and vitamin D than any hide-color of beef that has had access to green grass during its last 90 to 120 days of life. Our ancestors didn't have to deal with nutrient deficits from confined livestock. Up until the mid-twentieth century, virtually all food came from animals that had free access to green grass, which made them healthier people. Put more independent farmers back on the land armed and educated with new knowledge, and there will be fewer unhealthy city folks. Balance is key.

Chris Hitch    
Guymon, OK  |  January, 17, 2014 at 02:37 PM

And in 3 comments, "W.E." quickly regurgitates all the stupidity summed up in the current fads surrounding production agriculture. It ignores all the science and facts and just vomits ignorance and naivety. Try actually reading the article W.E. Grass fed beef has more Omega 3 fatty acids than conventionally fed animals, but beef is a poor source of omega 3 fatty acids. It's like claiming that a man is twice as rich when he has 2 pennies and another has one. Neither has much of anything. Look at the nutrients that ARE abundant in beef and you will find that organic, natural, conventional, or any other production method will produce about the same amounts of these items. Protein is the same no matter which way it is raised. If you're looking to get a lot of Omega 3 fatty acids, other foods are much more efficient at supplying significant quantities, but beef isn't. Beta carotene? Go eat some carrots.

January, 18, 2014 at 12:38 PM

Every source of beneficial nutrients is vital. The lack of balance in our current standard American diet comes from the same kind of oversimplification that claims all foods are alike, no matter what their source. Yes, beef raised in a feedlot for its last 90 to 120 days is a very poor source of Omega 3 fatty acids. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. Omega 3s are much more abundant in grassfed beef, mutton, chevon, venison and bison meat, along with the milk of such grassfed ruminants as cows, goats and ewes. Meat from grass-fed animals has up to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain-fed animals. Omega 3s come, not from the ocean, but from the green plants and algae that ruminant animals and fish consume. True, Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood, but not in farmed fish that have been raised on rations made from grain. The green algae that fish eat in the wild contribute Omega 3s, but they are also found in animals raised on pasture. When cattle are taken off omega-3 rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished. Or, if you prefer, you can also get Omega 3s from certain nuts and seeds such as walnuts and flax. Our 20th century dietary deficiency in Omega 3s came from displacement: An overabundance of Omega 6 fatty acids, which grain supplies, displaced Omega 3s, which ultimately come from the green-leaf based diet our ancestors consumed. Get the details right before you judge. The feedlot is the fad. People ate grassfed meat until the 1950s.

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