Healthy eating without nonsense: myths and misconceptions

We are advised on all sides to eat healthier. It started with “2 pieces of vegetables, 2 pieces of fruit” and went via “the Choose Better logo” to “food color”, “the five-piece” and “the new food”. That’s all great advice, but the best advice for food is still the alcohol slogan: enjoy, but drink (or eat) in moderation. This article is based on information from the book Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Healthiness by Doctor Dean Edell.

  • The more vitamins, the better
  • The more iron, the better
  • Sugar makes you fat and is addictive
  • Cheese is fatty and therefore bad
  • Chocolate is unhealthy
  • Caffeine is a drug and therefore bad
  • Butter and sunflower oil are worse than peanut butter and olive oil
  • Organic fruits and vegetables are better than non-organic
  • Cold drinks cool your body


The more vitamins, the better

Vitamins A, D, E and K (mnemonic: quay) are vitamins that dissolve in fat . It does matter whether you eat too little or too much. A lack of these vitamins makes you sick, but so does too much of them. Fat-soluble vitamins end up in existing body fat and can therefore reach toxic levels . This is especially dangerous for children, so keep vitamins out of reach. For example, an abundance of vitamin A can cause headaches, blurred vision, vomiting and liver and bone problems. Elderly people who have a lot of vitamin A in their blood are more likely to break bones. Vitamin A is found in fish, liver, kidneys, milk and it is sometimes added to milk products. Other vitamins such as B and C dissolve in water. If you have too much of these vitamins, you simply pee it out. A lot of vitamin C is not only found in oranges, but an equal amount is also found in peppers, kiwi, strawberries and broccoli.

The more iron, the better

It sounds so beautiful: iron. It gives us all the idea that it can make you stronger. Popeye eats a can of spinach and is suddenly able to handle Brutus again. Just like with vitamins, we think more means better. And just like with vitamins, that is not true. Too much iron is toxic and can even be fatal for children . Three iron pills for adults can poison a child. So be careful with iron supplements and first ask yourself whether you are not already getting enough iron on a normal day. Be careful with prune juice, as it contains 30% of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) in iron for men and 17% for women.

Sugar makes you fat and is addictive

Sugar is not addictive, does not give you quick energy, does not make children hyperactive and does not cause cardiovascular disease. It is related to dental problems, but especially to food and drinks containing sugars. Fruit juices and sticky foods stick to your teeth and create dental erosion. There is no difference in the types of sugar: brown sugar, white sugar and honey are absorbed into the blood in the same way. In principle, sugar does not make you fat. It contains four calories per gram while fat has nine calories per gram. Fat certainly contributes more to obesity than sugar. You can’t blame one food or one ingredient for weight problems. People gain weight when they take in more calories than they burn and it doesn’t matter what you eat. Of course, sugar can contribute to weight gain: if you exercise little, snack a lot and drink a lot of carbonated drinks. Coke in particular has an incredible amount of sugar; about 10 to 12 teaspoons (140-168 calories) per can. Coke has more sugar than ice cream, chocolate cake or a candy bar like Mars. Does this mean you can never drink Coke or eat a Mars again? No, as long as you consume these products in moderation, there is nothing to worry about.

Cheese is fatty and therefore bad

Cheese contains calcium, phosphorus and vitamin A. Surprisingly, cheese helps prevent dental erosion . The Roman emperors already ate it and gave it to their troops. That all sounds great, but what about all that fat? When you go to the supermarket, you see all kinds of cheeses in the refrigerator section. These not only taste different, but also have different fat contents. The table below shows the average number of grams of fat and calories per 100 grams of that cheese.


Grams of fat


Blue cheese









Cheddar (American)



Cheddar (British)
























Parmesan (grated)






The first thing to remember is that every person needs fat. Fat makes you feel full faster, so you eat less. Secondly, the numbers in the table concern 100 grams. A slice on a sandwich weighs 20-30 grams. In addition, the table indicates averages; There are exceptions. Cheeses made from whole milk contain more fat than from semi-skimmed or skimmed milk. Cheeses like Slankie and other 20+ or 30+ cheeses are a better choice if you pay attention to the fat content. The number (20+, 30+, 40+ or 48+) refers to the fat percentage in the dry matter of the cheese. Cheese consists of 40% moisture and 60% dry matter . Gouda cheese is 48+, which means: 48% fat of 60 grams of dry matter is 29 grams of fat per 100 grams. A 20+ cheese has 20% fat of 60 grams of dry matter, which is 12 grams of fat per 100 grams. Furthermore, there are all kinds of cheeses depending on the ripening period: grass cheese, young, young matured, matured, extra matured and old. Cheeses lose moisture as they age, so the fat content in cheeses increases slightly. Older cheeses also contain tyramine . This is also found in red wine and has been linked to migraines. Tyramine can also interact with some medications and cause higher blood pressure. The problems surrounding tyramine only apply to some people.
So what can we now conclude about cheese?

  1. Yes, cheese has fat, but you can counteract that by choosing leaner cheeses and smaller portions (thinner slices or grated).
  2. Anyone who likes cheese will probably benefit more from enjoying a good slice of cheese from time to time than from the disadvantage of the fat.


Chocolate is unhealthy

Unless you eat half a kilo a day, the above does not apply. Chocolate has ingredients that lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and prevent heart attacks . It relaxes the inside of your blood vessels; it prevents high blood pressure and hardening of the arteries. Chocolate reduces your risk of blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. A study with 7,800 Harvard graduates showed that moderate consumption of about three bars per month extends life. Most importantly, on top of the health benefits, you also get the pleasure of eating chocolate. Obviously excessive consumption is a bad idea, but what food isn’t?
There are even more persistent misunderstandings surrounding chocolate. First of all, chocolate does not give you more energy and adds little to your calorie intake. Secondly, it contains very little caffeine and does not cause breakouts (see also: here). One thing is clear: dark chocolate is twice as good as milk chocolate. Dark chocolate has more flavonoids that release antioxidants that in turn fight cancer. In short: chocolate is cheaper than a psychologist and you don’t have to make an appointment.

Caffeine is a drug and therefore bad

Caffeine is the most commonly consumed drug in the world through coffee and tea. Many people swear by coffee as a great way to start the day. If so many people like it, there must be something wrong with it, right? It’s strange that we can’t accept that healthy doesn’t always have to be boring, bitter or dirty. Coffee is made from a herb that contains many antioxidants . If we had only discovered this herb now, you could probably buy it as a pill! In moderate consumption, coffee is good for you. It lowers your risk of all kinds of cancer, suicide and depression. Older women who have drunk coffee all their lives score better on several tests, such as memory, arithmetic and naming members of a category (for example, number of animals per minute). One study found that coffee could potentially leach the calcium from your bones, but other studies weren’t so sure. Either way, enough exercise can solve that problem. The only thing you have to be careful with with coffee is the growing popularity of all kinds of additives such as whipped cream and caramel. This can significantly increase the number of calories in a cup of coffee.

Butter and sunflower oil are worse than peanut butter and olive oil

The question you have to ask yourself is: what is bad? When it comes to calorie counts, sunflower oil, peanut butter, olive oil and butter are all equally bad. Every gram of fat has nine calories, in any form. The difference is in the type of fat . Butter and sunflower oil have saturated fatty acids that are slightly less healthy. Peanut butter has a bad name because it contains quite a lot of fat. But peanut butter has monounsaturated fatty acids, just like olive oil, which have a positive effect on the heart and veins. Olive oil has three-quarters of monounsaturated fatty acids and is sometimes linked to a reduction in LDL (bad) cholesterol and an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. Please note: anyone who uses this information as an excuse to spread more peanut butter on a sandwich or pour more olive oil on a salad is doing it wrong. More oil means more calories, which can lead to heart disease. Another bizarre fact is that it is not good at all to cut out fat completely . A diet with very little fat lowers the level of HDL cholesterol and increases the number of triglycerides. So if you’re faced with the choice of using
equal amounts of butter or olive oil, the latter seems like a better choice.

Organic fruits and vegetables are better than non-organic

Many people think that organic fruits and vegetables contain more vitamins and minerals than the non-organic varieties. If you ask these people How is that possible?, they have no answer. If you think about it for a moment, you will understand why there is no answer: it is impossible. A certain type of fruit or vegetable naturally contains a certain amount of vitamins and minerals. The cultivation method adds nothing to this and detracts nothing from it. In general, organic fruits and vegetables are grown closer to the point of sale and can therefore be fresher.
Another misconception is that organic fruits and vegetables are completely free of pesticides and herbicides . Again, think for a moment: where are the organic fruits and vegetables grown? Usually next to a field where non-organic fruits and vegetables are grown. That field is irrigated and pesticides are not deterred by a sign stating organic cultivation. There is a whole other problem with attitudes about pesticides; people wrongly think they cause cancer . Pesticides break down when their job is done. It’s true that overexposure can make you sick, but it certainly can’t cause cancer.
So are organic fruits and vegetables better than non-organic eh? Not an awful lot. They may be fresher and have fewer pesticides, but anyone looking at the price tag should ask themselves whether they are worth it to their own wallet. Final tip: never use soap to clean vegetables or fruits, as a residue will always be left behind. Just use water.

Cold drinks cool your body

On a hot summer day we crave a glass of cold water. We believe that the cold water can cool our body . Anyone who goes to China hears the opposite story. On a hot day, you should drink hot tea to cool down. The idea is that the tea increases your body temperature, causing you to sweat more and therefore cool down. That probably sounds strange to us, because we would drink tea to warm up in the winter. All ideas about warming up and cooling down are wrong; it is purely perception. Eating and drinking do not affect our body temperature . Breathing and the amount of sweat determine the heat of our body. The food or drink we consume has a small mass in relation to our body. It has as much effect as an ice cube in a warm bath or a glass of boiling water in a cold bath. It is too little to affect body temperature. Many people also believe that alcohol can warm the body, but that is a deception by our own body. Alcohol dilates the blood vessels, causing you to lose heat while feeling warmer.

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