9 Food Myths Debunked
There seems to be a new diet and food myth every day. New diets are constantly being thrown around telling us that this diet is the best, this diet will ensure longevity, weight loss, younger looking skin etc. We are told this food is unhealthy, it is therefore labelled as 'bad', and then there is food said to be healthy and is therefore labelled as 'good'. A common problem that occurs is when a particular food is labelled as 'healthy' research then comes back identifying it as bad.
When this constantly happens, it is understandable that consumers become confused with what really is good and bad, and what you actually should be eating.
It is time to put an end to the food myths and get to the truth about nutrition.
1. Eggs Increase Cholesterol
A common belief was that consuming eggs increased your risk of heart disease because eggs contain cholesterol. However, studies now show that there is no association between eating eggs and cardiovascular disease (1). The amount of cholesterol found in eggs is not enough to have an impact on cholesterol levels in the human body, compared to products such as butter and fatty meat which contain more saturated fatty acids.
Bottom Line: It is fine to eat one egg every day.
2. Low fat is better for you
This is a myth that people still believe. There is this misconception in the health and fitness industry that has been extrapolated into the mainstream denouncing fat. The low-fat diet became popular in the 1960's and 1970's it was the dieting approach you have to be following. The low-fat approach became an ideology, and all health practitioners, the government, the food industry and media were all advising it (2).
Fat, a key macronutrient was sadly and mistakenly made out to be the worst macronutrient known to man. It was believed fat caused people to became fat as well as other chronic diseases such as heart disease.
The food industry began producing low-fat products and promoting them as healthier than high fat.
Firstly, fat is not bad, and the fat you eat is not the fat that you wear. Secondly, many of these low-fat products are high in sugar. Many people are unaware of the added sugar found in these low-fat products. However, the added sugar which is found in low-fat products is necessary otherwise the product will have no taste. The food industry has to include an element of flavour and taste to these low-fat products otherwise they would not sell. So how do you make a low-fat product taste nice? Add sugar.
Now sugar is a man-made product, fat is a naturally occurring source, so what would you rather consume.
Furthermore, there has been an overwhelming number of studies highlighting how sugar is key cause so many chronic diseases.
Bottom Line: Eat your Fat. Ensure you are eating a sufficient amount of healthy fats, which includes your polyunsaturated fats and monosaturated fats.
3. Dairy is good for your bones
Milk contains calcium, protein, vitamin D and phosphorus, ingredients suggested as being beneficial for improving bone health. However, the potential benefit of milk on hip fracture prevention is not well established.
The Government, the food industry and Doctors identified milk as an essential product necessary for children and adolescents while growing up.
Research suggested that consuming milk while growing up will help make strong and healthy bones. A study found, however, that consuming milk during teenage years was not associated with a lower risk of hip fracture, it was actually associated with a borderline increase in fracture risk in men.
Bottom Line: There is no association between drinking cows milk and having stronger or healthier bones. There are also, however, dairy-free alternatives to get your calcium intake instead of drinking cows milk.
4. Fresh is always better than frozen
It is common to see people walk past the frozen food section of the supermarket as it is often believed that this section of the store is bad and full of unhealthy foods. But, I am here to tell you that this is not entirely true!
Next time you are food shopping, and you pass by the frozen foods section, I want you to stop and grab yourself some frozen fruit and vegetables.
It is often believed that frozen fruits and vegetables lose their nutrients once they are frozen, however, this is far from the truth. Produce that has been frozen has been picked at its peak ripeness. Therefore, most of the in-seasons produce are frozen when they are in season, ensuring the foods retains it high nutrient content at that time.
Research shows that freezing fruits or vegetables does not affect their nutritional value as most people think. Freezing does still preserve their nutritional value.
Even if studies do indicate a decrease in nutritional value due to freezing, it is only a slight decrease.
Bottom Line: Frozen foods are not all bad. There is nothing wrong with frozen fruits and vegetables.
5. Carbohydrates make you fat
A new craze came about in the 1990's calling out carbohydrates as the 'evil' food. There was, therefore, a drastic shift in dieting approaches, from low-fat to now low carb.
Carbohydrates were now labelled as the macronutrient that makes you fat. The low carb approach brought new dieting approaches such as the Atkins Diet.
Carbs do not make you fat. It is the excess consumption of calories that cause weight gain. However, it is important to point out and establish that carbohydrates are not created equally. What this means is that while carbs are not bad for you and they do not make you fat, there is always a better option and that moderation is key.
There are two types of carbohydrates simple carbs and complex carbs. Simple carbs are broken down quickly in the body and therefore increases your blood sugar and in turn, spikes your insulin. However, on the other hand, complex carbs are broken down slower, due to their fibre content and energy is released slowly throughout the diet, therefore there is not an increase in blood sugar levels and insulin.
A high sugar diet leads to insulin resistance and many other chronic diseases. Opt for whole foods, complex carbohydrates, such as quinoa, oats, sweet potatoes, brown rice.
Although it is important to note that a low carb diet has been shown to help many with weight loss.
Bottom Line: Carbs do not make you fat and you do not have to follow a low-carb diet. Choose better carb options.
6. Calories ate after 8 pm are stored as fat
A common belief was that you should stop eating after a certain time because the food eaten after 8, for example, will be stored as fat. However, this myth has been debunked; it does not matter what time you eat food. Calories are calories and your metabolism does not know clock to know what time you ate that food.
Bottom Line: A calorie is a calorie, eat at whatever time you want.
7. Brown Bread is always better than White
While brown bread may have more nutrients to white bread, it does not mean it is healthy. Brown bread is often a better option as it is made from unrefined wheat and contains nutrients such as fibre, selenium, potassium, and magnesium. However, packaged breads are often high in salt in order to preserve them.
Bottom Line: Brown bread is a better option.
8. Detox Teas cleanse your body and remove Toxins
Drinking detox teas will not cleanse or detox your body from toxins, our bodies are designed to do that by themselves. The liver, kidneys and spleen are 3 organs in the body which work to detoxify the body from toxins.
Bottom Line: Don't believe the hype, detox teas do not remove toxins from the body.
9. Go Gluten Free
Gluten-free is yet another craze which has become something everyone should be following.
A gluten-free diet is followed by individuals who are either celiac or who are gluten sensitive.
Celiac Disease (CD) is a genetic autoimmune disorder, where ingestion of gluten results to damage in the small intestine. When an individual with celiac disease ingests gluten, the reaction can cause the cells lining the small intestine to become inflamed and flattened together. In some cases, it can even disappear, this is called "villous atrophy." This can cause malabsorption of nutrients and other health issues.
Individuals who suffer from intestinal or extra-intestinal symptoms triggered by gluten but do not meet the formal criteria for celiac disease may have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Current research is now suggesting that individuals who do not suffer from Celiac Disease should not avoid gluten from their diet (5). The research suggests that avoidance of gluten may result in reduced consumption of beneficial whole grains, which may affect cardiovascular risk. Whole grains are known to have cardiovascular health benefits. Therefore the researchers suggest that gluten-free diets, for those who are not Celiac should not be encouraged.
Bottom Line: You don't have to go gluten-free. If you think you suffer from some symptoms associated with either Celiac Disease or gluten sensitivity, eliminate it from your diet for a few days to see if the symptoms disappear.
Virtanen, J K., Mursu, J., Virtanen, H. E., Fogelholm, M., Salonen, J et al. (2016). Associations of egg and cholesterol intakes with carotid intima-media thickness and risk of incident coronary artery disease according to apolipoprotein E phenotype in men: the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Available from: http://ajcn.nutrition.org/content/103/3/895
Greger, M. (2017). Nutrition Facts Org. Why Is Milk Consumption Associated with More Bone Fractures? Available from: https://nutritionfacts.org/2017/01/31/why-is-milk-consumption-associated-with-more-bone-fractures/
(5) Lebwohl, B., Cao, Y., Zong, G., et al. (2017). Long term gluten consumption in adults without celiac disease and risk of coronary heart disease: prospective cohort study. BMJ 2017;357:j1892. http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.j1892
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