Your grandmother isn’t the only one posting fake news on Facebook. According to the annual What's Trending in Nutrition survey of registered dietitians, the social media platform is the worst place to get your eating advice. Seventy percent of the 2,050 R.D.s who took the survey named Facebook as the No. 1 source of nutrition misinformation.
“Facebook is rife with nutrition misinformation,” says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D.N., owner of Active Eating Advice. “Anything fear-based, food shaming, or more about what not to eat rather than what to eat —these are all red flags.”
That's not to say you can't trust anything you see on social media, but reader beware.
“Facebook can be a good source of information if you are careful of the source. That means looking at who wrote the article and or who was quoted,” says Angela Lemond, R.D.N.
She says registered dietitians are always a good source because of their training. Doctors are credible if they have additional nutrition training, as are most people with Ph.D.s in nutrition-related science. Universities, professional organizations for dietitians, and governmental agencies also tend to be reliable.
Anyone else, be wary, especially if they're selling something. And never fall for these “fake news” posts that R.D.s say are the worst examples of bad nutrition advice they've seen.
AVOID EATING BANANAS BECAUSE THEY CAUSE WEIGHT GAIN
“Bananas are vilified because they are considered a high-sugar food and are related to fluctuations in blood sugar levels. This, in turn, is said to lead to weight gain,” explains Cassandra Forsythe, Ph.D., R.D., C.S.C.S., assistant professor of exercise science at Central Connecticut State University. But it's not true. Per serving, “bananas are no higher in sugar than any other fruit, so if you need to limit your sugar intake for any reason, bananas are no less offensive than an apple or a pear. They are a rich source of potassium, which is critical for normal muscle, nerve, and brain function. And as far as its glycemic index, a banana is not a high glycemic food. If you do find that you are hungry after eating a banana, then you'd benefit by eating it with natural, low-sugar peanut butter.”
LEMON PEELS ARE MORE POWERFUL THAN CHEMOTHERAPY
“As a dietitian, I'll be the first one out there to market the power of food for our bodies. But to say that one part of a whole food is more powerful than chemotherapy is very dangerous to put out there,” says Angela Lemond, R.D.N. Although lemons are high in vitamin C, which in high doses has been studied as an anti-cancer treatment, and liminoids, a phytochemical being studied in cancer treatment and prevention, don't ditch chemo for the citrus. Feel free to add the fruit, juice, and zest to dishes to add flavor, though, Lemond says.
BEEF IS BAD
Although studies have found that eating processed red meat such as bacon, sausage, and hot dogs are associated with heart disease and colorectal cancer, those same studies found no correlation between eating non-processed, prime cuts of red meat and heart disease and cancer, says Jim White, R.D.N., exercise physiologist and owner of Jim White Fitness & Nutrition Studios. “Additionally, the studies were long-term observational studies rather than meta analysis studies or random controlled trials, which are higher on the scale for reliability,” he adds. White recommends capping your red meat consumption at 2 ounces per day or 3 to 4 ounces three times a week, and choosing lean beef, veal, lamb, bison, goat, and pork. Also include other healthy proteins in your diet such as seafood, poultry, beans and low-fat dairy.
COCONUT WATER IS A GOOD FLUID REPLACEMENT AFTER EXERCISE
“Sweat lost during exercise is primarily made up of the electrolyte sodium,” explains exercise physiologist Jackie S. Womble, R.D.N. “Coconut water is OK to drink to stay hydrated throughout the day, however, it does not provide the necessary sodium to replenish what was lost during intense exercise. It’s fine for recreational activities, but not for individuals looking to replenish what’s lost during intense activity. A sports drink is a better choice.”
ONLY EAT ORGANIC
Choosing organic versus conventional is a personal choice, says Toby Amidor, R.D., author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook. “Not only is there no nutritional difference between the two, a recent study found that low-income individuals who couldn’t afford to eat organic vegetables opted to skip vegetables altogether because they thought eating conventional vegetables was harmful,” she says. “The benefits of eating any vegetables—whether organic, conventional, local, or ugly—outweigh the negative effects of eating no vegetables at all.”
IF YOU CAN’T PRONOUNCE SOMETHING ON THE INGREDIENT LIST, DON’T EAT THAT FOOD
“Many foods are fortified and enriched with vitamins and minerals to improve the nutritional quality—that’s a great thing,” says Heather Mangieri, R.D.N., author of Fueling Young Athletes. “Unless you are a chemist or a food scientist, it is likely that you will eat things you can pronounce. The ferric orthophosphate in the bran flakes that I eat every morning is a great example. It might sound scary to you, but as a scientist, I know it’s just another name for iron. On the contrary, eating too clean can actually lead to nutrient deficiencies. Our food supply is supplemented with vitamins and minerals for a reason, and it’s not to scare the public or increase disease—it’s to prevent it.”
FOLLOW THE KETO DIET FOR WEIGHT LOSS
We've covered the ketogenic diet in the past, and the jury's still out on whether it's actually an effective weight loss technique. But author and nutrition consultant Elizabeth Ward, R.D., says “there are zero studies that prove that the ketogenic diet is beneficial for anything but epilepsy, and that effect is primarily seen in children. The diet is a therapeutic regimen prescribed by a doctor and monitored by a dietitian—for a reason! It's a high-protein, high-fat, and very low-carbohydrate way of eating that can cause fatigue and several nutrient deficiencies. It doesn't teach you how to build healthy eating habits, it's borderline dangerous, and hard to follow.”
DO NOT EAT EGG YOLKS
In a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 2016, researchers looked at the association between cholesterol and egg consumption and coronary artery disease (CAD). They concluded that neither was associated with an increased risk of CAD. “Plus, the yolk has more nutrition than the white,” says blood sugar expert Valerie Goldstein, R.D. “It contains vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K, along with omega-3 fats, folate, choline, and the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin.” Eat your eggs whole.
DO A JUICE CLEANSE (FOR ANY REASON)
“Juice is low in fiber, and if you're not putting any food into your body for your gut bacteria to feed off of, when you eat again, that gut bacteria won't know how to deal with the substrate,” explains nurse practitioner Robyn Nohling, R.D. “Then you may experience GI and other issues that reinforce the thinking that you can't have this food or that food” because it upsets your digestive system. As for the thought that juicing detoxes your body, “we are equipped with amazing things called kidneys and liver; your body detoxifies itself,” she adds.
ANYTHING ABOUT SUPERFOODS
“All foods provide some benefits, but no foods are the be-all and end-all,” says Leslie Bonci, M.P.H., R.D.N., owner of Active Eating Advice. “There is no food that causes nor cures disease. There is also no one 'ideal' food that is the best source of protein, fat, fiber, phytonutrients, carbohydrate, fluid, vitamins, and minerals, and in order to balance the diet, we must consume a mix of macro-, micro-, and phyto-nutrients daily.” So never rely on one food or even a group of foods, or you may create nutrient imbalances.
This article originally appeared on Men’s Health.