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4 Diet Myths That Won't Quit

You had your last date with butter and sugar on New Year's Day (Mom's pecan pie). Since then, your food life has been strictly low fat, low carb. So why does the thought of your bathing suit -- or a cholesterol test -- still make you shudder? Chances are you've fallen for a food myth or two. Here are four of the most seductive -- and persistent.

Myth #1: Margarine has less fat than butter
Fact: Blame this one on slick marketing. A teaspoon of butter and stick margarine have exactly the same amounts of fat (4 grams) and calories (35). The only difference is the kind of unhealthy fat: Butter has saturated fat, the main cause of high cholesterol. Margarine contains trans fat, which is so insanely unhealthy that it's being banned in several US cities, many restaurants, and some European countries.
Smart move: For baking and cooking, switch to soft tub or liquid margarine; many are now trans fat-free and reasonably low in saturated fat. For toast, use soft spreads or, even better, dip your bread into a little extra-virgin olive oil -- one of the healthiest fats nature ever invented.

Myth #2: Low-fat = low-calorie
Fact: Not nearly always. The problem is that manufacturers often replace fat with high-calorie, unhealthy fillers. For instance: Two tablespoons of natural peanut butter have about 190 calories. Low-fat PB made artificially creamy by adding corn syrup and trans fat? About 190 calories. And those calories are a lot less healthy.
Smart move: If you prefer the real deal (who doesn't?), just spread nut butters less thickly to cut calories and fat naturally.

Myth #3: When all else fails, do the grapefruit diet
Fact: Versions of this food fable have been around for years. They usually involve eating nothing but 800 calories worth of black coffee, boiled eggs, and grapefruit for as long as you can stand it. Who wouldn't lose weight?
Smart move: Try starting every meal with either half a grapefruit or a glass of grapefruit juice. As this blog reported a few months ago, some highly reputable scientists have found that people who do lose about half a pound a week. Without dieting. Or going crazy on the treadmill. Or doing anything differently except eating grapefruit like they owned a citrus orchard. Why? Grapefruit contains certain plant compounds that seem to lower insulin levels, which encourages weight loss. Which suggests that you might be able to skip not only the crazy grapefruit diet but all diets and still shed a few pounds.

Myth #4: Eggs up your cholesterol
Fact: For years, this misunderstood food -- low in calories (75), high in vitamins (D, B12, folic acid), and nearly perfect in protein -- was shunned. True, an egg yolk delivers about 220 mg of cholesterol, close to the 300 mg daily cut-off recommended for healthy people. However, heart researchers now think that the mix of fats you eat is more important than the cholesterol in food, plus not everyone seems to be sensitive to it.
Smart move: If you're lucky enough to have enviable cholesterol counts (HDL above 40 mg/dl, LDL below 100), you can enjoy an egg every day, or a couple of really great omelets a week. Otherwise, check with your doctor about how many eggs you can eat -- you may be in for a happy surprise.

Besides getting over your fear of bathing suits and cholesterol test -- no small feat -- there's a third reward for staying diet smart: Steadily maintaining a desirable weight can make your RealAge as much as 6 years younger.

Source: Yahoo

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