5 Things People Still Don’t Know about Food but Should

1. Sugar is sugar is sugar is sugar.

Honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut sugar, raw sugar, turbinado sugar, organic sugar.

And then there’s good old Domino.



2. Fruit counts. No matter what Weight Watchers says.

This applies mostly when I talk to diabetics — who sometimes think all they have to worry about is bread.

I would never call a banana “unhealthy,” just like I would never call gluten “unhealthy,” but the fact is that you CAN overeat bananas, just like anything else, and if you’re also in a precarious situation with blood sugars, this is a problem.

No food is “free.”

You should be thinking about everything you put in your body, and you should be thinking about every food in the context of everything else you’re eating as well.


3. Protein bars are never just protein.

Think about where we find the most protein in foods:

Dairy products
Soy products

Sure, there’s some protein in starches — like in quinoa. But generally speaking, the calories from protein in starches is by far outweighed by the calories from carbs.

And sure, there’s some protein in nuts and seeds — like in almonds, peanuts, and sunflower seeds. But again, the protein content is not the overwhelming majority of calories in these foods; instead, these foods have a dense fat content as well.

So if you’re going to make a PROTEIN bar that’s high in protein, you need to include protein from an ingredient that gives you the most protein bang for your calorie buck. And while meat and seafood does this, these foods aren’t likely to be yummy in a protein bar.

So high protein bars rely on soy proteins and dairy proteins instead. And these proteins generally DON’T come in a convenient bar form — they are manufactured to be powders!

To make these high protein ingredients into a bar, you need to add stuff — rice crunchies, nuts, dates, honey, etc.

And all of these things add carbs and fat to the “protein” bar.

So that Cliff Builder protein bar that you buy to help you get more protein?

20g of protein.

AND 30g of carbs.

AND 8g of fat.

That’s very, very close to being the same, nutritionally, as a turkey sandwich on 2 slices of Ezekial bread with a tablespoon of mayonnaise.

And you would never think of a sandwich as JUST protein. The bread makes that carb content much more obvious.

So make sure you’re aware — protein bars are RARELY ever just a source of protein.


4. Corn is not a vegetable.

Well, sort of.

From what I’ve read, if it’s harvested to be eaten fresh, it’s a vegetable.

If it’s dried, it’s a grain.

Sort of.

If it comes from the reproductive part of the plant, which corn does, it’s a fruit. According to a NY Times report over a NY Senate debate over this very issue, “Botanically speaking, corn is a caryopsis, or dry fruit — popularly known as a grain.”

What matters to us, however, isn’t really whether corn ACTUALLY is a vegetable or a grain or a fruit.

We eat it like a vegetable, and this leads us to believe it’s nutritional value is akin to other vegetables.

And corn’s nutritional value is NOTHING like spinach or broccoli or brussels sprouts.

Corn is dense in carbohydrates — and not very dense in fiber or anything else.

One ounce of corn has about 21g of carbs — the same as a slice of bread.

Like bananas, eating some corn isn’t going to be “unhealthy” in and of itself.

But if you think piling your plate up with canned corn, along with your rice, is helping you get your low-calorie vegetables in, think again.

And if you have ANY issues with blood sugar regulation, eating half a cup of corn WITH your rice is an awful lot of carbs.

Again, corn alone isn’t a huge problem. Like all things in nutrition, however, you also have to think about what ELSE you’re eating with it.

And most of us don’t eat corn as the only starch in a meal.


5. Eating cholesterol will not raise your cholesterol.

Egg yolks aren’t unhealthy.

Shrimp isn’t bad for people with “high cholesterol.”

For the general population, eating foods that contain cholesterol will not have a negative effect on your serum cholesterol levels.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, “the biggest influence on blood cholesterol level is the mix of fats and carbohydrates in your diet—not the amount of cholesterol you eat from food.”

See that?

It’s about your dietary choices IN CONTEXT.

It’s never JUST about the cholesterol in a food.

It’s never JUST about the carbs in a food.

It’s about food as a WHOLE — as a SUM — because you eat foods with other foods.



And if I were to add a 6th thing people STILL don’t know about food, that would probably be it:

Making the right food choices is about context. All of the following contribute to whether a particular food, diet, or meal plan will be right for you:

– your medical history
– your activity levels
– your lean mass vs. body fat levels
– your personal tendencies and habits
– your food budget
– your social habits
– your religious views

And there’s probably ten more things I could list.

The point is:

Your body’s needs might be similar to someone else’s, but they will never be exactly the same.

Determining what’s healthiest is an individual process.


About Kristen

I teach literature to high school students by day. I lift heavy things, train clients, and eat peanut butter by night.

1 comment on “5 Things People Still Don’t Know about Food but Should

  1. Thanks for the tips! I didn’t know that about cholesterol, but “everything in moderation” is probably always a good policy, right?

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