There’s so much out there on the world wide web that it’s impossible to look for the right advice when it comes to picking out the right foods to eat. With so many old-school ideas and old wives’ tales misrepresented as nutritional gospel, it’s easy to be misled if you’re not careful.
So we’ve round up four of the most common food myths that need to die and the scientific truth around them:
- “Stop eating eggs to preserve your cholesterol levels”
Yes, eggs do contain higher levels of cholesterol in their yolks than in their whites (about 200 mg per egg) and yes, cholesterol is associated with the fatty stuff in blood that results in clogged arteries but that doesn’t mean these two dots should be connected.
Eggs are a source of many nutrients, including iron and zinc, antioxidants such as lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin D, and the chemical choline, which is good for your brains. With eggs having all these benefits, there’s no need to totally cut them out of your diet.
However, you should have them in moderation.
Consuming an egg a day isn’t going to have that much of an impact on blood cholesterol because your body compensates for this extra cholesterol in your blood by manufacturing less cholesterol itself, but that doesn’t mean you go overboard and have as many as you want.
Top tip: Limit your general cholesterol intake to about 300 mg (about one egg and one egg white or two small eggs) and avoid saturated fats and trans fats as these are more influential in raising your blood cholesterol levels than eggs.
- “Avoid all carbohydrates as they make you fat”
Many avoid carbs as one of the first steps when it comes to dieting. Yes, cutting out carbs does cause initial weight loss, but it’s been found that low-carb dieters eventually regain more weight than compared to low-fat dieters.
The key is to not avoid carbs totally, but cut out those that are bad for you – i.e. refined-calorie-rich foods such as pasta, white bread and doughnuts. Good carbs such as beans, grains, fruits and vegetables not only give your body the carbs they need, they’re also high in nutrients and fibre.
They are more calorie dense and are what your body uses first for energy (so good for eating before sport or if you’re an active person). Go for low-GI carbs as well as they keep you fuller for longer.
Top tip: Include your carb intakes within your overall calorie count for the day as eating too much of anything makes you fat. It’s all about moderation.
- “Nut-based milks are better than dairy milk”
Nut-based milks have become a fad, with many thinking they’re the best nutritional choice of milk in the market. If you thought that way, you need to think again. Nut-based milks don’t contain as much protein and calcium as dairy milk, so you’ll be losing out on valuable nutrients for your body.
Even calcium-fortified nut-based milks have less calcium than dairy milk, meaning you’ll need to make up for your body’s daily calcium intake (an average of 1000 mg of calcium per day for adults 19 years old and older) through other means.
Top tip: Go for a nut-based milk only if you’re dairy milk intolerant or don’t like drinking it and ensure you take a calcium supplement or find other foods that contain calcium like legumes, leafy greens, nuts, oranges, and tofu.
- “Frozen food is not as nutritious as fresh food”
Fortunate for those of you that rely on frozen food, fresh and frozen food have actually been found to have similar nutritional values. Nutrients in frozen food are simply sealed in during the freezing process, and whilst frozen, last a lot longer than their fresh counterparts.
These fruits and vegetables picked out for freezing are also processed during their peak ripeness, meaning that that’s when they are most nutrient-packed.
Top tip: To get the most nutrients out of your food, grow your own produce and pick it as you eat it. This is because as soon as food is harvested, nutrients begin to diminish; the longer the time between when food is picked and eaten, the less nutrients remain in the food.