Nutrition myths exposed
Misinformation about nutrition
It’s easy to feel confused about what’s right for you and your diet, when there’s so much information (and misinformation) around. Read on to find out what you’re really eating so you can make the right choices and stay healthy.
Myth: ‘Light’ foods are healthier
The facts: The word ‘light’ appears frequently in food advertising. In some cases, it does mean the food you’re eating is lower in kilojoules, but in many cases, it may simply be referring to another property of the food. For example, light olive oil has the same fat and kilojoule content as regular olive oil – it’s just lighter in flavour and colour due to a different pressing process. And light potato crisps are often just a thinner cut than the regular kind. Always read the fine print following the asterisk to check the explanation for a ‘light’ claim. For the ultimate guide to what’s light or not, compare kilojoules or SmartPoints®.
Myth: Eggs raise cholesterol levels
The facts: Despite having the highest quality protein of all food sources, eggs have received a wrongly deserved bad rap. In the past, it was mistakenly believed that the cholesterol found naturally in egg yolks was the main cause of high blood cholesterol. We now know that the main culprit for raising cholesterol levels is saturated fat. So, according to the Heart Foundation, not only do most people not need to worry about the cholesterol content in eggs, eating up to six eggs a week is healthy. Just remember to stick to healthy cooking methods, such as poaching or boiling, rather than frying.
Myth: Organic means a food is more nutritious
The facts: Although the term ‘organic’ actually refers to the way a food is grown and processed, many people choose organic products for their perceived health benefits. When it comes to organic fresh fruit and veg, the scientific jury is still debating the nutritional superiority of organic over conventional, and studies have yet to provide conclusive results, aside from some studies showing a tendency for organically grown fresh produce to have slightly higher levels of vitamin C. So, while you may be helping the environment by choosing organic foods, always check the sugar and fat content on the labels because there may be no difference in kilojoules or the SmartPoints per serve.
Myth: Gluten-free equals a flatter belly
The facts: In the past few years, more and more people have been trying out gluten-free products, such as breads and pastas, in the belief they’re less fattening and better for your health. What you might not realise is that you’re actually doing your health a disservice by cutting out nutritious wholegrains, such as wheat and oats, if it’s not necessary. Eating only gluten-free foods could leave your diet unbalanced and will not miraculously flatten your tummy. So, always consult a health professional for a diagnosis of coeliac disease or gluten intolerance before you abandon gluten for good.
Myth: Fresh food trumps food in cans
The facts: Not only is canned produce processed when it is at its peak nutritionally, some nutrients might be better absorbed from canned foods, than fresh. Example? Lycopene (the pigment in tomatoes, guava and watermelons, that’s responsible for their bright red colour) is an antioxidant that may help to reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease, as well as boosting eye health. Research has shown that when we eat canned or cooked lycopene-rich foods, lycopene is absorbed more easily by our bodies than when it is consumed as a fresh food, thanks to how heat changes its chemical structure.
Myth: Water is good, coffee is bad for health
The facts: Water is the best beverage for weight loss and health, but recent research has revealed that caffeinated beverages, such as coffee, don’t have the dramatic diuretic effect that was once believed, and can even contribute to your daily ‘fluid’ intake.