It is time to revisit some of the most common food myths that we encounter in our work as nutritional counselors. These myths are more than just fables–they might be keeping you from optimal health.

Myth #1:

Eating egg yolks raises cholesterol. Like most cholesterol-rich foods, eggs are packed full of important nutrients, especially carotenoids, fat-soluble Vitamins A, E, D, and K, and essential fatty acids. The main thing to know about eggs is that they contain lecithin, a fat emulsifier, which actually helps your body break down cholesterol, not hold on to it. Pastured eggs are the best kind of eggs to eat, eggs from chickens that are free to forage for grass and insects.

Myth #2:

Coconut products should be avoided. Coconut, once regarded as unhealthy, has made a comeback as it helps manage diabetes and aids in weight loss. Coconut oil is now considered one of the healthiest oils to cook with; coconut milk adds flavor and creaminess to foods; and coconut water is full of electrolytes and hydrating power. All in all, coconut is proving to be a wonder fruit. Diabetics can eat coconut oil, because it actually helps regulate blood sugar. Coconut puts less demand on the enzyme production of the pancreas, allowing the organ to function more effectively. The oil also helps supply energy to cells, because it is easily absorbed, without the need for insulin or enzymes. Coconut oil raises metabolic rate, causing the body to burn more calories and lose weight. The medium-chain fatty acids in coconut oil are sent directly to the liver for conversion into energy and not into body tissues as fat.

Myth #3:

Fat makes you fat. Fat is a critical part of a healthy diet and body. We have a lipid or fat layer on the outside of our cells which protects and informs our immune system. So, it is essential to eat the right kind of fats to keep that layer strong. Examples of healthy fats include avocado, flax oil, hemp oil, coconut oil, raw nuts, and seeds. Including healthy fats in your diet increases metabolism and optimal function of all body systems. Eat a small amount of healthy fat with every meal to support weight and immune system management.

Myth #4:

Cow dairy is necessary for calcium. Seventy-five percent of the human population cannot digest milk products. Milk is not necessary for a balanced and nutritious diet. It is hard to digest, mostly because of the pasteurization process, and leads to an overly acid condition. In this state, the body leaches minerals from the bones to buffer excess acid (a leading cause of osteoporosis). Leafy green vegetables, legumes, whole grains, and sesame seeds are a superior source of calcium.

Myth #5:

Olive oil is a healthy cooking oil. High-heat oil like  coconut oil do not burn at high temperatures the way olive oil does. Safflower and coconut oil are able to retain their beneficial properties throughout the cooking process, whereas olive oil cannot. If you are using olive oil to cook, heat your pan first, add the olive oil, then immediately add your food. Never cook above medium heat with olive oil.

Myth #6:

Cereal or oatmeal is the best way to start your day. To bring balance to the stress hormones, it is essential to have healthy fat and protein within an hour of waking. Oatmeal or cereal provides complex carbohydrates but no healthy fat or protein. If you are going to start your day this way, add a handful of nuts or seeds and a scoop of high quality protein powder to your cereal bowl.

Myth #7:

Soy milk is a better alternative to cow’s milk. Too much unfermented soy can negatively affect your health, from thyroid problems to hormonal imbalance. It can cause too much estrogen in the body which leads to problems such as weight gain, inflammation, and cancer. Soy products increase the risk of thyroid disease. This danger is particularly great for infants on soy formula. Instead use unsweetened almond milk, hemp milk, rice milk, or coconut milk.

Myth #8:

Avoid root vegetables because they are too high in sugar. Root Vegetables like carrots, sweet potatoes, yams, and butternut squash are high in complex carbohydrates, which take longer to digest than simple carbohydrates. They are a great source of sustained energy and beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals. Don’t be afraid of complex carbohydrates because of their sugar content. They will help you ultimately crave less sweets and are a critical part of any healthy diet.