I just saw this “nutrition quiz” from LiveScience:
Most of the questions are misleading, and some of the answers are downright dangerous!
A “good” type of fat is …
- Hydrogenated oil
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat
- Trans fat and saturated fat
Their answer: Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat
My response: This is a misleading question, and a dangerous answer. Hydrogenated oil contains trans fat and saturated fat, so the first and third answer are really the same. The only one left is “monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat,” which means that there is no “correct” answer to this question.
A reasonable question to ask is which kinds of fatty acids are essential in the human diet. The answer is omega-6 fatty acids (such as linoleic acid) and omega-3 fatty acids (such as alpha linolenic acid). Both of them are polyunsaturated. However, you only need a tiny amount of either one in the diet. The optimal level of omega-6 fatty acid in the diet is probably about 2% to 4% of total calories. The optimal level of omega-3 fatty acid in the diet is similar.
All kinds of fat: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated, and trans, can be incorporated into the plaque inside your arteries. Rather than eating supposedly “good” fats, people need to strictly limit their fat intake and to eat lots of leafy green vegetables. Tragically, the American Heart Association is using some stupid cartoon characters to encourage people to eat monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat instead of saturated and trans fats, when they should be telling people to limit their fat intake to less than 10% of total calories, or until their total cholesterol level drops below 150 mg/dL.
Some benefits of a vegetarian diet that includes dairy products are …
- An ample supply of vitamin B12
- A lower intake of saturated fats
- A reduced risk for chronic disease such as heart disease
Their answer: A reduced risk for chronic disease such as heart disease.
My response: This is another stupid, misleading question. Do they mean what would be the advantage of adding dairy products to an otherwise purely plant-based diet? Then “an ample supply of vitamin B12” might be reasonable, but they consider that answer to be “wrong.” Vitamin B12 and vitamin D are the only essential nutrients that aren’t available from a purely plant-based diet. Unfortunately, adding dairy products to an otherwise purely plant-based diet raises the risk of serious disease, including heart disease. Even if you add nonfat dairy products, that means that you are adding extra dairy protein, which raises the risk of diseases ranging from type 1 diabetes to various cancers. If you want to reduce your risk of chronic disease, such as heart disease, you remove all animal products from the diet and take a vitamin B12 supplement.
Which vitamin can only be obtained from sunlight and supplements?
Their answer is D, which is correct. Score one for them!
Nuts are …
- Fattening no matter what
- High-calorie but good for you in small doses
- Mostly full of trans fats
Their answer is: High-calorie but good for you in small doses.
My response: How small of a dose? An ounce? Nuts are a concentrated source of many nutrients, but they are terrifically high in fat. They are one of the fattiest foods on the planet. The exception is chestnuts, which some people call “the grain that grows on trees.”
Low-carbohydrate diets can put you at risk for …
- Insufficient nutrients
- Gaining weight
Their answer is: Insufficient nutrients.
My response: The correct answer is osteoporosis! The calories in our diet come in the form of carbohydrates, fats, protein, and alcohol. When people talk about “low-carbohydrate” diets, they generally mean diets that are high in protein, as well as fat. The protein and fat typically come from animal sources. Unfortunately, the heavy doses of animal protein cause a mild form of metabolic acidosis, which is a major contributor to osteoporosis. That’s why osteoporosis is so common in societies where people eat lots of dairy products but rare among people who eat a mainly plant-based diet. Fruits and vegetables are rich in minerals and thus have a net alkalinizing effect.
Peas and beans are good plant sources of …
- Monounsaturated fat
Their answer is: Protein
My response: Yes, peas and beans are rich in protein, but virtually all plant-based foods, except for some fruits, provide more than enough protein. Human protein needs are actually so modest that they are easily met by virtually any plant-based diet. It’s difficult even to design a diet that would provide enough calories but not enough protein. You’d have to eat nothing but apples or other low-protein fruit, but hardly anyone even thinks of doing that.
A primary risk factor for diabetes is …
- A high-sugar diet
- A low-carbohydrate diet
- A high-calorie diet
Their answer: A high-calorie diet.
My response: What kind of diabetes? The devastating type 1 diabetes that results from pancreatic failure and has to be treated with insulin replacement? The evidence is now overwhelming that it results from an autoimmune response triggered by a particular protein in cow’s milk. (No, I don’t think that goat’s milk is a safe alternative.) Or do they mean the most common form of diabetes, the milder form that occurs in fat people and goes away by itself if they eat better and exercise more? That has been linked to a high-fat diet, in particular. High-fat diets promote insulin resistance, and starchy diets promote insulin sensitivity. Switching to a starchy, high-fiber diet essentially cures type 2 diabetes, even if people eat until they are satisfied and make no effort to limit their portions.
Eggs with brown eggshells are …
- Healthier than eggs with white eggshells
- Made by a different breed of hens than eggs with white eggshells
- Better for baking than eggs with white eggshells
Their answer is: Made by a different breed of hens than eggs with white eggshells
My response: Eggs are chock-full of fat and cholesterol and have way too much protein. You’d be better off without them in your diet. Besides, the conditions under which the chickens are kept nowadays are frightfully unsanitary and inhumane.
The USDA recommends at least how many daily ounces of whole-grain bread, rice and the like?
Their answer is: 3.
My response: Who cares what the USDA recommends? The purpose of the USDA is to promote agriculture, not to promote health. Therefore, the National Institutes of Health, not the USDA, should be making the dietary recommendations.
Skipping breakfast is a good way to …
- Gain weight
- Curb your appetite later in the day
- Lose weight
Their answer is: Gain weight
My response: People who eat frequently can lose weight faster, but only if they’re eating the right kinds of food. Why worry about when people eat when the problem is what they are eating?