Time to set the record straight on five of the biggest fallacies about food!
1. Fats make you fat
Fats are an important part of any healthy diet - even a weight loss diet - providing essential fatty acids while delivering fat-soluble vitamins to the body.
What really matters is the type of fat you choose. Saturated (‘bad’) fat, found in animal products, full-fat dairy, and processed foods, is linked to elevated cholesterol and clogged arteries. However, unsaturated ‘good’ fat, found in fatty fish, nuts, seeds, avocados and vegetable oils, is associated with a string of health benefits.
Just don’t have too much of a good thing. All fats have the same energy density, good or bad, fat always has nine calories per gram, so keep your overall energy intake within daily requirements.
2. Eggs elevate cholesterol
The myth goes: eating too much cholesterol raises the body’s cholesterol levels. Egg yolks are high in cholesterol, so that must mean eating them raises cholesterol levels. Right? Wrong!
It has been shown that, in over two-thirds of the population, egg consumption leads to little or no change in cholesterol levels at all. The Heart Foundation recommends up to six whole eggs (including yolks) per week.
3. Vitamins compensate for a poor diet
Nutritional supplements are not medications. They fill in the nutritional gaps of a well-rounded diet – nothing more. Just because many complementary products are made from natural ingredients, it doesn’t mean they can’t be dangerous if used incorrectly. Some, such as St John’s wort, are known to interact with prescribed medications. Supplements are just that, they supplement a healthy diet for various purposes.
4. Carbs cause weight gain
During the 1990s, the Atkins and South Beach diets achieved huge popularity – and gave carbohydrates a label as the enemy of weight loss. Carbohydrates have had a bad rap for decades, with people becoming scared of bread in the belief that it will make them fat!
Rather than avoid carbs, it is more about choosing the right types- wholegrains, fruit and vegetables. Carbohydrate-dense foods such as bananas, oats, legumes, brown rice and rye or other wholegrain breads, which are high in fibre and resistant starch actually assist in achieving weight loss goals, because they provide satiety as a result of being digested more slowly than other foods.
5. Low fat equates to ‘healthy’
A largely unregulated product labelling system has been built around a popular fear of fat. While it’s true that we need to be careful about how much and what sort of fat we eat, many low fat foods are unhealthy in other ways, usually because of high amounts of added sugar or salt. These foods often contain the same amount of energy or more because extra sugar is added to make the product taste good as a result of the fat being removed.
Look at the overall energy and kilojoule content when comparing products, not just how much fat they contain. Nutrition labels on packaged products are there to help.