Dietary myths unraveled

Dietary myths unraveled

Food fads and trend diets can sometimes make it hard to really know what to eat and drink in order to stay fit, healthy and in tip-top form. Cut through the confusion and know the truth about some of the most commonly upheld dietary nonsense.

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MYTH: Fat-free foods are calorie neutral.
TRUTH: Just because a product is labelled fat-free does not mean that it is void of calories. In fact, the omission of fat in foods can degrade its taste, and manufacturers compensate by adding calorific flavour enhancers like sugar, flour and starch thickeners. If you are counting the calories, be aware that fat-free products often contain the equivalent (or even more) calories than regular varieties.

MYTH: Eating bundles of celery will make you lose lots of weight.
TRUTH: Eating and digesting celery burns up more calories than the food itself contains, but it won’t make you loose significant weight. In reality, you are unlikely to burn more than ten calories by chewing any food non-stop for an hour. Snacking on celery instead of biscuits or crisps is a positive choice, but this alone will not reduce your waistline to supermodel proportions – a balanced diet and regular exercise is the best way to a more slender you.

MYTH: Fresh vegetables are always much healthier than frozen varieties.
TRUTH: Many frozen vegetables are often just as nutritious (and sometimes more) as their fresh counterparts. Fresh veggies can loose much of their high vitamin and mineral content between being harvested and up to weeks of long-haul transportation across land, sea and air to supermarket shelves. Frozen food manufacturers usually quick-freeze produce within hours of it being harvested, which minimises nutritional loss.

MYTH: Cooking vegetables will kill their goodness.
TRUTH: Boiling vegetables to a pulp will bleed them dry of nutrients, but gently steaming them will keep the majority of nutrients locked in. Furthermore, the fibres that are broken down during the cooking process will also make it easier for your body to absorb the goodness they contain. In some instances, cooking vegetables can actually boost their healthy compounds. For example, ketchup, which contains cooked tomatoes, has up to six times more of the antioxidant lycopene than the same amount of raw tomatoes.

MYTH: Colourless vegetables lack nutrition.
TRUTH: Don’t always judge the nutritional value of a vegetable by its colour – some pale veggies are packed full of goodness. White cabbage is high in vitamins A, B C and K, calcium, iron and fibre, and cauliflower is bursting with antioxidants.

MYTH: Oysters boost your sex life.
TRUTH: Contrary to popular belief, there is no scientific evidence to suggest oysters are an aphrodisiac. Their link to enhanced bedroom activity is simply derived from the fact that they contain high levels of zinc, a mineral that can aid testosterone production and fertility in men. Oysters have zero effect on libido.

MYTH: Decaf coffee is better for you than regular coffee.
TRUTH: If you have a caffeine allergy or a real aversion to caffeine kicks, decaf is probably a better option for you, even though it will invariably still contain minimal amounts of caffeine (3% if produced to international guidelines, and up to 0.1% if produced to EU guidelines). However, if you think decaf coffee is healthier than regular coffee – think again. Many manufacturers use a chemical called dichloromethane to decaffeinate coffee beans, which is also the principle active ingredient of most paint strippers!

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