What can lower your risk of memory loss or breast cancer? How can you dodge endocrine disruptors or food poisoning? Can some supplements help curb arthritis pain or prevent cataracts?

There’s no shortage of questions about diet and health, and no shortage of answers—in the press, on social media, or from who knows where. Here’s your chance to see how much of what you’ve heard is true...and how much you remember from past issues of Nutrition Action.

Each question has only one answer. Ready, set, go.

1. Which food is most clearly linked to a higher risk of colorectal cancer?
a. High-fat dairy
b. Processed meats
c. Sugary drinks
d. Diet drinks
e. Refined grains

2. Which of these steps is most likely to prevent memory loss?
a. Taking antioxidants
b. Taking DHA
c. Taking ginkgo
d. Taking a multivitamin
e. Lowering high blood pressure

3. Which is NOT a sign of a heart attack?
a. Shortness of breath
b. Nausea
c. Sudden dizziness
d. Sudden arm weakness
e. Sudden fatigue

4. Which of these is most likely to curb osteoarthritis knee pain?
a. Vitamin D
b. 5-Loxin supplements
c. MSM supplements
d. Exercise
e. Arthroscopic surgery

5. Which of these is NOT good advice for grilling meat or poultry?
a. Marinate before grilling
b. Flip meat only once
c. Avoid needle tenderized meat
d. Trim visible fat before grilling
e. Don’t char or overcook

6. Which of these is most clearly linked to a lower risk of liver cancer?
a. Coffee
b. Fruits & vegetables
c. Whole grains
d. Nuts
e. Low-fat dairy

7. Which has NOT been consistently linked to sugary drinks?
a. Weight gain
b. Type 2 diabetes
c. Heart disease
d. Parkinson’s disease
e. High uric acid levels

8. Which is LEAST likely to cause an outbreak of E. coli O157:H7?
a. Soft cheese
b. Ground beef
c. Raw milk
d. Unpasteurized juice
e. Raw sprouts

9. Which of these WON’T help you avoid endocrine disruptors like BPA?
a. Microwave in glass or ceramic containers instead of plastic
b. Wash plastic by hand or on the top shelf of the dishwasher
c. Use plastics with recycling No. 7
d. Get rid of scratched plastic containers
e. Use fewer canned foods

10. Which is LEAST likely to lower your risk of osteoporosis?
a. Get enough calcium from food or supplements
b. Get enough vitamin D
c. Do weight-bearing exercise on most days
d. Limit acidic foods
e. Limit refined grains

11. Which of these steps is NOT likely to lower your risk of breast cancer?
a. Lose (or don’t gain) excess weight
b. Exercise daily
c. Drink alcohol only on occasion
d. Eat more vegetables
e. Take antioxidant vitamins

12. Which is most likely to prevent a cold?
a. Take Airborne
b. Take vitamin C
c. Take zinc lozenges
d. Don’t share food
e. Don’t rub your eyes

13. Extra pounds are linked to a higher risk of all but one of these cancers. Which has NO link?
a. Liver
b. Colorectal
c. Leukemia
d. Pancreatic
e. Uterine

14. All but one of these steps may lower the risk of kidney stones. Which one DOESN’T?
a. Drink enough fluids
b. Limit sugary drinks
c. Limit calcium-rich foods
d. Eat plenty of fruit
e. Lose (or don’t gain) excess weight

15. Taking which of these is most likely to lower your risk of cataracts?
a. A multivitamin and mineral
b. Bilberry
c. AREDS supplements
d. Antioxidant vitamins
e. Taurine

16. Which of these is LEAST likely to help prevent urinary leakage?
a. Lose (or don’t gain) excess weight
b. Do Kegel exercises (men, too!) to strengthen pelvic muscles
c. Get 30 to 60 minutes of exercise on most days
d. Take AZO bladder control supplements

17. Eating extra protein is most likely to help with which of these?
a. Feel full
b. Curb muscle loss if you’re dieting
c. Lose more weight if you’re dieting
d. Build muscle
e. Curb insulin resistance

18. Which of these is most likely to prevent wrinkles?
a. Adding collagen powder to foods
b. Using a moisturizer with hyaluronic acid
c. Using a moisturizer with vitamin C
d. Taking a vitamin A (retinol) supplement
e. Using sunscreen year round

19. Which of these has the kind of fat that’s likely to lower your LDL (“bad”) cholesterol?
a. Croissant
b. Yogurt-covered raisins
c. Ranch salad dressing
d. Buttered popcorn
e. Cupcakes

20. Death rates from which cancer are rising?
a. Breast
b. Colorectal
c. Liver
d. Lung
e. Ovarian

21. Which of these steps DOESN’T lower your risk of food poisoning?
a. Scrub melons and cucumbers before cutting
b. Rinse raw poultry
c. Refrigerate leftovers within 2 hours
d. Wash hands with soap and water
e. Only eat sprouts if they’re cooked

22. Which of these does NOT help prevent chronic kidney disease?
a. Keep blood sugar under control
b. Keep a lid on blood pressure
c. Lose excess weight
d. Drink less tea
e. Avoid excess salt

23. Which low-calorie sweetener should you avoid?
a. Acesulfame potassium
b. Erythritol
c. Maltitol
d. Monk fruit extract
e. Stevia

24. Which does NOT help you get an accurate blood pressure reading?
a. Stay silent
b. Keep your arm at your side and bent at the elbow
c. Avoid caffeine for ½ to 2 hours beforehand
d. Keep your feet on the floor
e. Lean your back against a chair

25. Which of these fish supplies the FEWEST omega-3 fats?
a. Farmed salmon
b. Wild salmon
c. Rainbow trout
d. Catfish
e. Albacore tuna


1. b (Processed meats). A daily serving of bacon, ham, hot dogs, sausage, or most deli meats is linked to an 18 percent higher risk of colorectal cancer, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer. Studies haven’t found consistent links with other foods or drinks (see Apr. 2019).

2. e (Lowering high blood pressure). Though it’s not certain, there’s substantial evidence that keeping a lid on your blood pressure—with diet or, if necessary, drugs—can help prevent memory loss. Ditto for controlling blood sugar. The evidence for supplements is weak (see May 2016).

3. d (Sudden arm weakness). Arm weakness could be a sign of a stroke, though, so it still might warrant a call to 911. And arm pain could signal a heart attack (see Sept. 2015).

4. d (Exercise). Walking plus strength training—with or without weight loss—helps curb arthritis pain. Vitamin D doesn’t work. Surgery is no better than physical therapy. MSM and 5-Loxin are backed by insufficient evidence (see Oct. 2017).

5. b (Flip meat only once). Flipping every minute or so cooks meat faster. That should cut heterocyclic amines (which cause cancer in animals). So do marinating (in the fridge) and not overcooking. Tenderizing by piercing beef with needles or blades can push bugs on the surface deep inside, boosting the risk of food poisoning (see Jul./Aug. 2017).

6. a (Coffee). People who drink coffee have a lower risk of liver—and possibly uterine—cancer. Avoiding excess weight lowers your risk of both (see Apr. 2019).

7. d (Parkinson’s disease). Higher uric acid levels can lead to gout. Need any more reasons to cut back on sugar? (See Nov. 2015.)

8. a (Soft cheese). Soft cheeses have been linked to Listeria outbreaks, which are most likely to harm pregnant women. E. coli O157:H7 infection is dangerous because it can lead to life-threatening hemolytic uremic syndrome (see Dec. 2017).

9. c (Use plastics with recycling No. 7). No. 7 often contains BPA. Also avoid No. 3 (which can contain phthalates) and No. 6 (which contains styrene, a probable carcinogen). Plastics that are scratched or heated to a high temperature are more likely to leach chemicals into food (see Nov. 2017).

10. d (Limit acidic foods). Foods that create more acid in the body—not acidic foods—may increase bone loss. The list includes grains (like bread, rice, cereal, and pasta) and protein-rich foods (see Jul./Aug. 2017).

11. e (Take antioxidant vitamins).Trials that gave women vitamins E and C and/or beta-carotene found no lower risk of breast cancer. The other steps, while not tested in trials, are linked to a lower risk (see Sept. 2014).

12. e (Don’t rub your eyes). Sucking on zinc lozenges might shorten a cold slightly. But not touching your eyes or nose—and washing your hands—helps prevent a cold (see March 2014).

13. c (Leukemia). Also linked to excess weight: cancers of the kidney, ovaries, gallbladder, and thyroid; some cancers of the esophagus and stomach; and multiple myeloma (see Apr. 2019).

14. c (Limit calcium-rich foods). High-dose calcium supplements (1,000 mg a day or more) may promote kidney stones, but people who eat more calcium rich foods have a lower risk of stones (see March 2014).

15. a (A multivitamin and mineral). The Physicians’ Health Study II reported a 9 percent lower risk of cataracts in men who took Centrum Silver for 11 years. There’s no good evidence that bilberry, taurine, antioxidants (vitamins E and C), or AREDS formula supplements work. AREDS supplements can slow macular degeneration, but only in people with intermediate or advanced disease (see Nov. 2016).

16. d (Take AZO bladder control supplements). In one study—funded by a company with a stake in the outcome—women who took AZO for 12 weeks made slightly fewer trips to the bathroom (8 vs. 9½ a day) than those who took a placebo. That’s not enough to go on (see Dec. 2015).

17. b (Curb muscle loss if you’re dieting). Getting enough protein can curb muscle loss, but extra protein doesn’t do much in the best studies. Even if you’re dieting, extra protein only curbs muscle loss slightly (see Sept. 2018). Want more muscle? Start strength training.

18. e (Using sunscreen year round). Look for a broad spectrum sunscreen (which filters both UVA and UVB rays) with at least SPF 30. Some retinoid creams (like tretinoin) can help smooth wrinkles, but taking vitamin A supplements won’t help. Nor will moisturizers or collagen supplements (see Nov. 2018).

19. c (Ranch salad dressing). It looks creamy, but it’s mostly unsaturated oil, which can lower LDL. Cupcakes or croissants are made with shortening or butter, which raise LDL. Ditto for the palm oil in yogurt covered raisins (see Nov. 2017).

20. c (Liver). Researchers blame the jump largely on the obesity epidemic, though hepatitis C infections may account for some of the rise (see Apr. 2019).

21.b (Rinse raw poultry). It’s smart to rinse fruits and vegetables, but not raw poultry (or pre-washed packaged greens). Rinsing can spread bacteria to foods, utensils, and kitchen surfaces (see Dec. 2017).

22. d (Drink less tea). Tea hasn’t been linked to a higher risk of kidney disease (see Sept. 2016).

23. a (Acesulfame potassium). It has been poorly tested, but it increased cancer risk in older animal studies. Monk fruit extract hasn’t been well tested, but is probably safe. Stevia extract, erythritol, and (in moderate doses) maltitol are safe (see Sept. 2017).

24. b (Keep your arm at your side and bent at the elbow). Your arm should be supported at heart level by the person taking your pressure or by a table (see Jan./Feb. 2018).

25. d (Catfish). Salmon and trout are rich in omega-3s, whether farmed or wild. Albacore tuna beats chunk light (see Jan./Feb. 2019).

How’d you do?

We told you it was tough.

  • 21-25: Impressive! Even we had to double-check some answers.
  • 14-20: Excellent. Definitely refrigerator-door material.
  • 6-13: Keep at it. With so much misinformation out there, it’s hard to keep anything straight these days.
  • 0-5: Umm... Don’t toss that renewal notice.

Illustrations: lucky1984 (top), Dennis Cox/stock.adobe.com (all others).