Coffee Is Bad For You And Other Health Myths

Don’t let myths derail your healthy eating

Paris / France – There’s all sorts of advice out there aimed at trying to get us to eat more healthily and stay in shape. But some of the healthy eating opinions presented as fact are actually misleading, outdated or just plain wrong.

Here are 21 healthy eating myths to put to rest – the sooner you do so, the better for your health, weight and wellbeing.

There’s a right way to eat

There isn’t really one diet that’s healthies for everyone – as illustrated by recent evidence that showed different people have totally personal blood sugar and insulin responses to common foods such as bananas, muffins and bread. That said, a common characteristic from the world’s blue zones – areas with long – lived populations – is that people eat a largely plant – based diet.

Five a day is based on hard science

If this were the case, guidelines would be the same everywhere, but they’re not – Australia says seven a day and America nine (though the Brit recommendation doesn’t include potatoes, while the Australian and U.S. ones do). 14% of gastrointestinal cancer and 11% of heart disease deaths are linked to too little fruit and veg, says the World Health Organization (WHO), so we should just be eating more, full stop. However, the WHO recommends at least 400g (14.1oz) non – starchy fruit and veg daily, which is, in fact, five 80g (2.8oz) portions. 

Chocolate gives you spots

Acne is mostly caused by the production of hormones and the effect these have on the sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin, not by diet. A generally poor diet with lots of refined carbohydrate foods that tend to spike blood sugar may contribute to acne by elevating hormones that trigger acne. But there is no evidence linking chocolate specifically with spots.

Don’t chew gum in case you accidentally swallow it

Chewing xylitol gum is good for your teeth and there’s no need to worry about swallowing it by accident (though you shouldn’t do it on purpose). Swallowed gum isn’t digested, but simply passes through your digestive tract the same pace as any other food.

Spinach is a top source of iron

When scientists first analyzed the nutritional value of spinach, they made mistakes in the analysis and overestimated the iron it contained. It’s still a decent source – there’s 10% of the recommended daily amount in a 90g (3.1oz) serving of boiled spinach, but that compares with 16% in a 90g (3.1 oz) serving of roast beef topside (and the iron is far less well absorbed from plants than animal sources). Nevertheless, eating spinach and other greens daily still helps top up your iron levels.

Sugar makes kids hyperactive

Parents, we know…it’s hard to believe this one isn’t true given the proof of children bouncing off the walls at parties. However, the idea that sugar causes hyperactivity was actually disproved long ago. Researchers say the sugar high expectation is about cognitive bias – in a separate research where mothers were told their kids had been given a large dose of sugar rated them as significantly  more hyperactive, even though the kids had actually only been given placebo.

Sugar is the main cause of type 2 diabetes

Diabetes UK says that high sugar foods contribute excess calories, and it is this rather than sugar directly that can create the fatty pancreas that leads to people getting Type 2 diabetes. However, sugary drinks seem to be linked with diabetes unrelated to their effect on body weight. It’s a good idea to limit your sugar intake for many other health – related reasons.

Vitamin C will prevent a cold

Vitamin C supplementation doesn’t reduce the incidence of colds for most people, according to a comprehensive review. However, it might help some people, such as marathon runners, undertaking extreme physical exercise, which causes a dip in immune function.

Cookies may contain plasticizers to keep them soft

American – style soft cookies are soft because of a high fat and moisture content. Sugar helps by holding the moisture in and slight under – baking means it doesn’t all evaporate. Some cookies may  contain compounds such as glycerine, sorbitol, or monoglycerides to retain more moisture, but these are all permitted food additives. Non – food additives such as plasticizers, used to soften plastic, are not allowed.

Mixing your drinks results in a worse hangover

Grape or grain, but never the twain goes the saying, but there’s actually no evidence that mixing your drinks makes for a worse hangover. It’s more likely just the total amount of alcohol that’s the problem and if you follow three glasses of wine with three of whiskey it is asking for trouble.

MSG is an unhealthy food additive

While MSG (monosodium glutamate) shouldn’t be needed in well – cooked tasty dishes, there’s no evidence that it causes the so – called Chinese restaurant syndrome – more likely, you just ate too much. An aversion to MSG is essentially a form of food snobbery as it’s actually the same chemical as the umami present in posh foods like Parmesan, porcini mushrooms and bonito flakes.

There are no plant sources of vitamin D

Mushrooms can actually contain quite good amounts of vitamin D, but only if they’ve been exposed to sunshine. Some already come UV – treated (in – which case it will mention they are vitamin D – enriched on the label). Otherwise, you can put them gill -side up by a sunny window for an hour before eating.

Plant – based milk alternatives are healthier

Some plant – based milk alternatives, like oat, may be more environmentally friendly, but they aren’t healthier than dairy. Most have a fraction of the protein of dairy milk (soy is an exception) and little or no calcium and vitamin B12 – both found in high quantities in cows’ milk. If you are using  a plant alternative to milk, always check if these nutrients are added.

Canned food is less nutritious

The canning process can reduce some heat sensitive nutrients such as vitamin C and folate, but once in the can, the levels stay stable until you open it. A 2015 study, in the jurnal Nutrients found that people who consumed more than six canned food items a week had higher intakes of  17 essential nutrients including potassium, calcium and fiber than those who ate less than two cans a week.

Frozen fruit and vegetables aren’t as good for you

Frozen fruit and vegetables can suffer a small fall in nutrients during the blanching process, which is used prior to freezing to kill the enzymes that could cause deterioration. But as they are processed within hours after picking, while at their nutritional peak, they still compare very favorably to fresh versions.

Oranges are the best  source of vitamin C

Red, yellow and green peppers all have more twice as much vitamin C as oranges, with all of the recommended daily intake (80mg) per half of pepper. Brussels sprouts, kale, blackcurrants and strawberries are also richer sources.

White bread is bad for you

Not necessarily – in fact white bread has more calcium than wholemeal bread, with an average of 71mg per slice versus 42mg in wholemeal. That’s because white bread flour is fortified with this mineral for healthy bones, but wholemeal bread flour isn’t. And while white bread has 65% less fiber than wholemeal, it is still a relatively good source with roughly the same amount as a small apple.

Eat little and often to boost your metabolism

One study found that slimmer who ate the same amount of calories in just two meals actually lost more weight than people who  split the same calories over six meals. One reason not to graze? It can be too easy to lose track of what you’re eating.

Only water hydrates you properly

The  water in tea, caffee, soft drinks, and juices all counts as fluid to keep you hydrated, as does the fluid provided by high water foods such as fruit and vegetables. And research shows regular coffee drinkers don’t need to worry about caffeine being a diuretic either – it did not affect hydration in a controlled study.