With so much conflicting information widely available on the internet, it’s easy to get bewildered as to what you should and shouldn’t eat.
Here I take a look at eight of the most common nutrition myths that have been busted by science.
Myth No 1. Eggs are unhealthy
Eggs are a powerhouse of nutrition and a versatile food for any occasion; a couple of eggs at breakfast makes for a great protein-rich start to the day which will help avoid those mid-morning energy slumps. A hard-boiled egg is a quick, fuss-free snack whilst a frittata or quiche is great for lunch or dinner helping to keep those blood sugar levels balanced and mood fluctuations at bay.
Over the years there’s been quite a bit of controversy over the cholesterol content of eggs but the science now supports the view that eggs can play an important role in a healthy diet, particularly if they are free-range or organic.
Myth No 2. Butter is bad for you
I saw a little quote a while back which sums up how I feel about the whole butter versus margarine debate: “I’d rather trust something made by a cow than something made by a chemist”. When making your mind up, bear in mind that butter, apart from tasting great:
- Is a natural food;
- Is a great source of Vitamins A, D, E and K as well as many trace minerals such as zinc, which is important for healthy brain function;
- Contains the right balance of the essential fats, omega 6s to omega 3s;
- Contains choline which is needed for nerve function;
- Comprises a unique fat called butyrate which may support the integrity of the gut and has anti-inflammatory effects on the brain.
Myth No 3. Margarine aka vegetable spread is healthy
Many margarines and vegetable spreads are touted as a healthy alternative to butter. However, what isn’t publicised is that most margarines are made from liquid vegetable oils that undergo intensive chemical processes to make them partially solid; they are also subject to emulsifiers, artificial food colours to make them more of an appealing butter-like colour, flavourings, bleaching agents and substances to stop them from going rancid.
Many of those artificial additives have their own set of health ramifications.
Myth No 4. Milk is the only source of calcium
With the increasing trend in veganism, more people are switching their sources of calcium from animal to plant-based foods.
Whilst milk does provide calcium, nuts and seeds are a good source as well as cruciferous veggies such as kale, broccoli, cabbage and watercress plus okra and other green veggies.
Many cultures have never consumed the milk of other animals; once they have been weaned off the breast milk from their mother, they obtain their calcium needs from plants and seafood.
Myth No 5. All carbs are bad for you
One of the biggest food trends in recent years has been the low carb high fat diet (LCHF). Many people have had great results with this diet and definitely ruling out processed, refined carbohydrates such as pies and pastries will make a difference to your waistline as well as how you feel and think.
However, I do think that there is a place for the healthier carbs such as wholegrains and starchy veggies such as sweet potatoes as these provide good fibre and a host of nutrients that we need to function and think optimally.
Myth No 6. All artificial food additives are safe
There are over 300 food additives approved for use in Australia/New Zealand and whilst they may have been tested in isolation, no studies have been done on the health effects of consuming a wide variety of different additives over any period of time.
Food additives perform a range of functions from improving the taste of otherwise bland foods or making foods look more appealing, to preventing foods from deteriorating too quickly.
However, additives may cause headaches, nausea, depression, hyperactivity, fatigue and/or rashes in some people. We’ve all noticed those children that become “excited” when they consume artificially coloured foods.
If you have unexplained health issues it’s worth thinking about the effects of artificial additives in your diet.
Myth No 7. “It’s in my genes”
For decades many people have used the excuse of “It’s in my genes” as an explanation for whatever has caused their ailments, from weight issues to depression.
However, following the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, it became apparent that we are much more than our 20,000-25,000 genes. Diet and other lifestyle factors can influence gene expression so we have much more control over our destiny than previously thought, which I’ll be discussing in a future article.
Myth No 8. Chocolate is naughty!
Come on, I’m sure you’ve indulged and then felt really guilty afterwards!
Cheap, processed chocolate isn’t that great; think calories, poor fats, high refined sugar and artificial additives.
BUT good quality chocolate made from raw cacao, cacao butter and a healthy sweetener is nothing but divine and rich in goodness, for you and your soul. Raw cacao rates really highly on the antioxidant scales and its magnesium content helps keep you calm during that “crazy-woman” time of each month! And, I really believe that if you are going to have something “naughty”, then do so with joy and ditch the guilt.
Eating a varied and nourishing diet is vital to support your physical and mental wellbeing and if you’d like to find out more and work with a nutritionist, I welcome you to make an appointment with me.
Beverley Dorgan is a Brisbane Clinical nutritionist with a special interest in how the foods we consume can impact on our mental health from anxiety and depression to OCD and behavioural or learning issues.
To make an appointment with Beverley Dorgan, Clinical Nutritionist Brisbane, try Online Booking. Alternatively, you can call Vision Psychology Brisbane on (07) 3088 5422.
- Fuller NR, Caterson ID, Sainsbury A, et al. The effect of a high-egg diet on cardiovascular risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) study-a 3-mo randomized controlled trial. Am J Clin Nutr. 2015;101(4):705-713. doi:10.3945/ajcn.114.096925
- Gupta MD, Girish MP, Yadav R. The saturated fat Controversy: Finding calmness in chaos. Indian Heart J. 2019;71(3):181-183. doi:10.1016/j.ihj.2019.07.003
- Hamley S. The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease: a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Nutr J. 2017;16(1):30. Published 2017 May 19. doi:10.1186/s12937-017-0254-5
- Menal-Puey S, Martínez-Biarge M, Marques-Lopes I. Developing a Food Exchange System for Meal Planning in Vegan Children and Adolescents. Nutrients. 2018;11(1):43. Published 2018 Dec 25. doi:10.3390/nu11010043
- National Human Research Genome Institute https://www.genome.gov/human-genome-project
- Zhang AC, MacIsaac RJ, Roberts L, et al. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid supplementation for improving peripheral nerve health: protocol for a systematic review. BMJ Open. 2018;8(3):e020804. Published 2018 Mar 25. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020804