Nutrition myths debunked
Not sure how to separate the fact from the fiction when it comes to modern nutritional information?
With so many diet fads constantly hitting the headlines nowadays, it’s hard to believe what hits the top spot when it comes to a healthy diet.
Should we follow the good old-fashioned healthy balanced diet, recommended by the NHS, basing our meals on the Eatwell Plate? Or could going vegan be a better way to keep trim and reduce levels of cholesterol on our hearts?
In an attempt to help you weigh up what healthy diet to follow for optimal fitness and health, SCI-MX reveal the truth on 8 nutrition myths.
Myth 1: “Fresh produce is healthier than frozen.”
The truth revealed: In some cases, frozen produce is actually more nutritious than fresh! This is because, as fresh produce ripens, the nutrition content becomes lower and the sugar content becomes higher. Frozen produce, on the other hand, is frozen just after harvest, immediately locking in key nutrients.
While fresh produce is, of course, incredibly nutritious, keeping in a stock of frozen veg will not do any harm, particularly if it will encourage you to use more vegetables in your cooking.
Myth 2: “A gluten-free diet is always healthier.”
The truth revealed: While a gluten-free diet is the only option for sufferers of coeliac disease, the rest of us will not necessarily benefit from cutting out the protein.
Yes, that’s right, gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and triticale (triticale is a combination of wheat and rye).
If you have coeliac disease, the body reacts to gluten, causing damage to the lining of the gut. The symptoms of coeliac disease are: Nausea, tiredness, headaches, bloating, cramping and diarrhoea. These can be triggered by the tiniest amount of gluten.
The only treatment for coeliac disease is to eat a gluten-free diet.
For those of us who do not suffer from coeliac disease, there is no evidence that a gluten-free diet will improve our overall health.
In fact, following a gluten-free diet can lead to nutritional deficiencies since gluten can be a source of iron, fibre, calcium, folate, thiamin, niacin and riboflavin.
Myth 3: “Vegans and vegetarians don’t get enough protein.”
The truth revealed: Protein is an essential part of our diet. The human body is made up of 20% protein but does not have the ability to store it. Therefore, we must consume enough protein in our diet each day.
While it is well-known that meat is an excellent source of protein, it is also very easy for vegans and vegetarians to consume enough protein. That is essentially because protein is found in a number of different foods, including vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and grains.
The following five foods are a great source of plant protein:
- Brussel Sprouts
The average amount of protein that should be consumed per day is 42g. While this, of course, depends on the type of body you have and the amount of exercise you do, most people, including vegetarians and vegans, exceed this recommended average daily amount.
The key difference between protein consumption between meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans is, of course, the fact that meat eaters consume more animal protein which absorbs more quickly into the body than plant protein.
Because animal protein is more similar to the human body, it is used up more rapidly that the protein found in plants.
Animal protein is also a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids you need in order to be in optimal health.
While vegans and vegetarians can get enough protein from plant protein, it is important their diet is well-planned so that they also consume all the amino acids required by the body.
Myth 4: “High fat foods are bad for you.”
The Truth revealed: An element of fat is required in a healthy, balanced diet. And, there are a number of high-fat foods that are incredibly nutritious and essential for a healthy diet.
It is important to note that the healthy fat found in healthy food is unsaturated fat, or monounsaturated fat that helps to lower bad cholesterol.
Here are five high-fat foods that can make the body healthier. While they are healthy since they contain the necessary unsaturated fat, they should still be consumed in moderation:
Avocados contain no cholesterol or sodium, making them a heart healthy food. Although exact figures will depend on the size and type of avocado, one avocado contains about 160 calories and 15g of healthy fats. An avocado contains about 9g of carbs, 7g of those are fibre. They also contain about 2g of plant protein.
The nutritional advantages of avocados are that they are rich in fibre, folate (vitamin B9), vitamins C and E, and potassium. Avocados, therefore, help encourage cell tissue and growth in the body, play a positive role in digestion and help to maintain healthy blood pressure.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is another form of healthy fat that is renowned as having heart-healthy benefits.
It is also a great source of antioxidant that can help detoxify free radicals in the body. Extra Virgin Olive Oil is the premium, or luxury, version of olive oil. Both of which offer advantages to the heart.
Despite the fact that cheese is often picked up on as being a fatty food, it is enriched with both calcium and protein.
Cheese has been presented as a food source to protect against cavities in the teeth, as well as being an excellent source of Vitamin A and B12, helping the body with the absorption of iron, and zinc, phosphorus and riboflavin.
Nuts are a well-known food source to provide monounsaturated fats. Favoured amongst athletes, nuts can also be a great source of protein for vegetarians and vegans. Nuts do contain a small amount of saturated fat though. They also contain omega-6 and omega-3 polyunsaturated fat, magnesium and Vitamin E.
- Oily fish
Oily fish should be a staple part of everyone’s diet. Types of oily fish are: Sardines, salmon, mackerel, trout and tuna. These fish are full of omega-3 fatty acids and, unlike most meats, do not contain saturated fat.
Myth 5: “Egg yolks raise your cholesterol and can cause heart disease.”
The truth revealed: While the fact of the matter, that eggs are high in cholesterol, is true, what isn’t always made clear is the fact that egg yolks contain a high-percentage of unsaturated fat which can help clear the heart of unhealthy saturated fat.
Generally, you can eat about 6-7 eggs a week with no negative impact on your heart or increased risk of heart disease. Of course, this is a general figure which may change based on different lifestyles and medical histories.
Myth 6: “You should avoid all sugar- even fruit.”
The truth revealed: Sugar is a carbohydrate found in a variety of different foods. “Natural sugar” and “free sugar”. Natural sugar is naturally occurring in fruit and milk, also known as fructose and lactose, while free sugar is added to food and drink, and also found in honey, fruit juices and syrups.
Natural sugar is still a sugar and can contribute to health problems when consumed in excess. That said, there are also essential nutrients in foods that contain natural sugar. Avoiding fruit and milk would, in turn, lead to nutritional deficiencies such as lack of calcium and lack of vitamins. Therefore, it is important to include a variation of natural sugars within the diet.
The recommended total intake of sugar per day is a maximum of 90g per day, where a maximum of 30g of that sugar is free sugar.
Myth 7: A high-protein diet strains the kidneys and increases the risk of kidney disease”.
The truth revealed: There is no evidence that a high-protein diet damages the kidneys in people that do not already suffer from kidney disease.
High blood pressure and diabetes can lead to kidney damage, and a diet that is high in protein can actually help both of these health factors.
Myth 8: “Coconut oil is fantastically good for me.”
The truth revealed: The fact that coconut oil is the healthiest fat out there is untrue. In fact, coconut oil is a saturated fat.
General saturated fat can lead to high cholesterol, however, it has been suggested that the saturated fat found in coconut oil may not have the same negative affect on heart health and blood cholesterol.
That said, the essential fatty acids found in unsaturated fats, like olive oil and avocado, are what makes the high-fat heath foods so good for us. Coconut oil is not proven to be a healthier option to unsaturated fats.
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