Common nutrition myths

drinking water

Nutrition messages from magazines and the media can be contradictory and confusing. We have looked at some misconceptions to help you recognise how to make better food and hydration choices.

Egg yolks raise your cholesterol - Many people have cut egg yolks out of their diet to avoid the high cholesterol found in the yolk. Trans fats and certain saturated fats, not the dietary cholesterol, are what cause unhealthy blood cholesterol. The yolk actually has many nutritional benefits such as omega-3 fatty acids and nutrients. Basically you can have your egg and eat the yolk too!

Low fat foods will help you lose weight- When fat is removed from food, something else has to take its place. We tend to see loads of sugar, wheat, and low diet chemicals in order to replace the taste. These harmful additives work against your weight loss efforts putting your health in jeopardy. Your body needs the right type of fat to function properly and feel full. Many prefer healthy options like avocado, nuts, coconut oil, olive oil and eggs.

Gluten-free foods are healthier- In the few years, the gluten-free diet craze has slowly evolved. The question of whether gluten is good or bad for you remains a lively debate, so that is for you to decide. If you do decide to go gluten free, it is important to note that food products that replace gluten are actually not any healthier for you. Many products replace gluten with unwanted ingredients such as saturated fats, sodium, and artificial materials. If you decide that you want to cut gluten out of your diet, you should eat products that are naturally free from gluten.

Natural means healthy- When you think of an “all natural” food product, you would like to expect the item to be minimally processed with no artificial additives or preservatives. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Just as a low-fat label does not automatically signal a healthy snack, neither does an "organic" or "natural" one. Although organic foods may be healthier than non-organic versions of the same snack, being organic or natural does not exclude foods from being loaded with salt, sugar or saturated fats.  For example, a fruit-flavoured product may claim it contains real fruit, but this doesn't mean there is any substantial amount in the product - or indicate what the rest of the ingredients are. Just like “Don’t judge a book by its cover”; don’t judge food by its label claims. Although it is good to eat naturally and organically where possible, it is also important to check labels to make sure "natural" products are really as healthy as they seem.

Bottled water is better than tap water- We are encouraged to drink more water for our health, and a common misconception is that drinking it by the bottle is a much healthier option. While there has been no scientific evidence that bottled water is better for us, some recent research actually suggested it is worse. After a 4-year reiew the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) found the bottled water to be no safer or healthier. The NRDC further concluded that 25 per cent of the water they tested was in fact just tap water in a bottle. There is some suggestion too that chemicals (phthalates) from the bottles leak into the water over time. So water corporation through the tap may be the best option after all!

Cereal is the best way to start your day- Many breakfast cereals marketed and packaged as health foods - perfect for weight loss and growing kids alike. However, this image is surprisingly inaccurate, as sugar levels in many popular cereals are often extremely high. A recent study by Which? found that only 1% of leading brands of cereals they tested had healthy levels of fat, sugar and salt, while 22% of the cereals aimed at children contained more relative sugar than a jam doughnut. While it is true that many of these cereals are fortified with vitamins and minerals, these nutrients are better taken in their natural form, such as oats, sugar free muesli, wholegrain bread or/and eggs.