When it comes to nutrition, it’s sometimes hard to separate myth from truth. Here, registered dietician Amanda Weber debunks some common food myths.
When it comes to nutrition, it’s sometimes hard to separate myth from truth. Everyone has an opinion on what you should eat, how much you should eat, when you should eat, and what the effects of these many (often conflicting) foods will be on your body. To set the record straight, we asked Cape Town-based registered dietician Amanda Weber to debunk some of the food myths she sees most frequently.
- The food pyramid
We’ve all seen a version of this pyramid, which was originally developed in Sweden in the mid-1970s. It provides an indication of the number of servings of each food group that everyone should eat. “The food pyramid is completely outdated,” says Amanda. “It simply doesn’t cater for the nutritional requirements that differ from person to person.” But if you’re looking for a healthy eating blueprint to follow, Amanda recommends the Mediterranean diet, which is high in vegetables, fruit, whole grains and seafood, and virtually eliminates sugar and highly processed foods.
- All carbohydrates are bad for you
“Good carbs, including sweet potato, lentils, oats and legumes, are a great source of fuel,” says Amanda. “They’re important for the production of serotonin, prevent constipation, promote the growth of probiotics (which improve the health of your colon), and provide essential nutrients.”
- Gluten makes you sick
This is only the case if you have if you have celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder where the presence of gluten causes the body to attack itself. If you don’t have this condition, gluten is a perfectly safe protein that’s found in grains like wheat, barley and rye.
- Organic foods are healthier
“This hasn’t been proven conclusively,” says Amanda. “Yes, organic foods are more beneficial for the soil and the environment, but the jury is still out on whether they’re more nutrient dense.”
- Eggs are bad for your cholesterol
Cholesterol is produced in the liver and is stimulated by trans and saturated fats in your diet, not by dietary cholesterol. Eggs are in fact a great source of protein, iron, chromium and omega 3 fatty acids.
- Oranges are the best source of vitamin C
Not so! Peppers, kale, kiwi and pawpaw actually have more vitamin C per portion. To get a good dose of kale into your diet, try juicing it, and make sure that your fruit and veggie salads have a tonne of colourful, vibrant, immune-boosting ingredients.
- You need to eat for two while you’re pregnant
“For the first two trimesters, you actually don’t need that many more calories than you would ordinarily,” explains Amanda. “It is more the quality of the food you’re eating than the quantity that’s important to ensure you have a healthy pregnancy.” Avoid takeaways, processed foods and meals with a high-fat or high-sugar content, and eat as much fresh food as possible.
- Eating Well: http://www.eatingwell.com/article/16296/the-13-biggest-nutrition-and-food-myths-busted/
- Healthline: https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/mediterranean-diet-meal-plan#foods-to-eat
- Celiac Disease Foundation: https://celiac.org/celiac-disease/understanding-celiac-disease-2/what-is-celiac-disease/