Food Myths Debunked

I hate hearsay and received wisdom regarding health and medicine. There are too many old tales of cure-alls that are nothing more than snake oil and advice on what’s good for you and what’s not. The UK government is as guilty as any organization for spreading food rumors, but the UK’s Food Standard’s Agency has published “Food Myths Debunked” which takes a nice shot at conventional wisdom.

The experts constantly change their minds about what’s good for us

False – It may seem that way, but the main messages about healthy eating have been consistent for many years.

Choosing healthy food is boring

False – There are lots of interesting foods we should be eating more of, such as oily fish, brightly colored exotic fruit, vegetables and spiced-up pulses.

Healthier foods are too expensive

False – Some healthy ingredients do cost more expensive, but you often only need these in small amounts and sometimes choosing a healthier option saves money. [Try Kelkog’s tasty Credit Crunch, for instance, just add low-fat milk, Ed.]

Having a traditional cooked breakfast (the so-called Full English, not to be confused with  the Full Monty) can be a healthy choice

True – If you grill lean bacon, poach your eggs and add baked beans, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms cooked with only a little olive oil, don’t add too much salt, and serve it all up with thick wholegrain bread and a decaffeinated cuppa, that’s probably one of the healthiest and most balanced meals of the day.

If it’s labeled ‘low fat’ then that’s always a healthy choice

False – Fatty foods tend to be high in fat and energy in the first place, so a ‘reduced fat’ version can still have quite high amounts of both.

If you want to have the healthier option it’s best to choose a vegetarian dish

False – Some vegetarian dishes contain a lot of fat, especially if they’re made with lots of cheese, oil, pastry or creamy sauces, or if they’ve been fried. So they aren’t necessarily a healthy option. Of course, if you’re talking rabbit food without dressing that’s different.

Vegetable suet is much better for you than beef suet.

False – Vegetable suet is suitable for vegetarians but it’s just as high in fat as beef suet, and contains as much saturated fat. The same is true for cheese.

Margarine contains less fat than butter.

False – Butter and margarine contain different types of fat, but both contain a similar amount of fat.

Red meat is always very high in fat and poultry is always low in fat.

False – Removing visible fat can make a big difference to the fat content of meat. In fact, lean red meat is quite low in fat at 4-8g per 100g.

Sweets are a good source of vitamins.

False – Sweets contain high amounts of sugar and are not a good source of vitamins and minerals. Eating sweets regularly between meals will lead to tooth decay.

Drinking ice-cold water uses up more calories and helps you lose weight.

False – Drinking water that is ice cold doesn’t use up any more calories than drinking water at room temperature. If you do want to lose weight, it’s important not to go on a ‘crash diet’. Losing weight takes time.

If a child refuses to eat fruit or veg, then it’s best not to serve them again.

False – It’s better to show children a new food a few times before you give it to them to try. Offer new food to children as often as possible. If they refuse the food, wait a few days then try again.

Dried fruit is not as healthy as fresh fruit.

False – As part of a healthy balanced diet we are recommended to eat at least five portions of a variety of fruit and veg each day, whether they are fresh, frozen, canned, dried or juiced.

It’s OK to skip breakfast

False – Breakfast is a very important meal. When we’re sleeping, we are also ‘fasting’ for an average of about eight hours, so it’s essential to ‘break’ this fast. [Otherwise the word itself will become redundant, Ed.]

Sprinkling lemon juice on the fat on meat dissolves it.

False – Lemon juice, although a good source of vitamin C (ascorbic acid), won’t dissolve the fat in fatty foods.

Avocados aren’t a healthy choice.

False – Avocados contain monounsaturated fat, which has a positive effect on blood cholesterol levels.

Most of the salt in our diet is added at the table.

False – 75% of the salt in our diet comes from processed foods. Fruit juice can be harmful to teeth True – The sugars found naturally in whole fruit are less likely to cause tooth decay because the sugar is contained within the structure of the fruit. But, when fruit is juiced or blended, the sugar is released. Full details here