Health Myths Busted

Finding the truth about what food you and your family should be eating can be tricky, so we’ve asked the experts to set the record straight. 

healthy food

Myth: Vegetarian = Good

It’s true that studies suggest vegetarians are less likely to suffer from heart disease and cancer but as dietician Sian Porter says 'it’s possible to be vegetarian and still eat badly. Ensure your diet has a range of proteins, with a variety of beans, pulses and dark greens to your boost iron'.

Myth: Avoid Eggs

‘When it was discovered that cholesterol raised the risk of heart disease, we thought that eating foods high in cholesterol would increase the levels of it in our bodies, so it was suggested that people limit their intake of eggs,’ says Bridget Benelam from the British Nutrition Foundation.

‘Over the years, though, science has disproved this.’ In fact a study by the University of Surrey found that people who eat two eggs a day as part of a 12-week calorie-controlled diet actually saw their cholesterol levels fall. If you like eggs, eat them.

Myth: Fat Make You Fat  

Ounce for ounce, fat has more calories than any other nutrient, so it has long been shunned by dieters. But we just need to know which fats to eat. ‘Fat doesn’t need to be completely excluded from any diet, but it is important to control the portion sizes of fats and high-fat foods if trying to lose weight as they are so caloriedense,’ says Bridget.

Try to eat sources of unsaturated fat, which don’t raise cholesterol – such as oily fish, avocados and nuts – and keep portions small.

Myth: Fresh Juice Beats Fruit 

Juices and smoothies are seen as a good way to get a lot of nutrients in one go and kids love them. ‘But when you juice a fruit, you remove the fibre – and most of us only get about half the fibre we need each day as it is,’ says Bridget. ‘Juices also have a lot of free sugars, which are high in calories.’

But you don’t need to ban juice – just stick to the recommended daily intake of one 150ml glass. Get the rest of your nutrients from whole fruit and veg.

Myth: Raw is Best

‘The theory of raw eating is that cooking destroys enzymes and nutrients in food – but in fact, some foods actually release more nutrients when they are cooked,’ says Sian.

For instance, roasting tomatoes for 30 minutes increases the amount of the antioxidant lycopene that is released. ‘Eat a good mix of cooked and raw foods,’ says Sian.

Myth: Eat Organic and You'll Lose Weight 

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking anything marked ‘organic’ has fewer calories than non-organic food. The science on this  is simple: ‘If you consume more calories than your body needs  in a day, you will gain weight,’ says Sian

Myth: Gluten is Bad For You 

‘This is a common belief among health bloggers but, for most people, there’s no evidence gluten does harm,’ says Sian. So why do so many people say they feel better when they stop eating it? It might be down to other changes in their diet: they often eat more veg and adopt a more varied diet.

‘I tell clients to try switching up their carbs before they ban gluten,’ says Sian. ‘Try oats for breakfast, have a sandwich for lunch then quinoa or rice for dinner'.