There is information about food EVERYWHERE! Eat this, don’t eat that, eat less of this, eat loads of that. It’s OK ladies, calm your farm I’m going to talk you through some of the myths.
Myth 1: Always eat fresh
I’m talking about Fruit & Vegetables here, the supermarkets have an overflowing Fruit & Veg section pretty much as soon as you walk through the door and they all look so fresh & tasty. Do you know how fresh they are though? They could have been harvested nearly a week ago, which means their nutritional value will have decreased, and they’re not at the best. Don’t get my wrong, they’re still tasty, but have you considered eating Frozen veggies?
“Vegetables are more likely to retain their nutritional value if they’re frozen immediately after being harvested. After harvesting, vegetables gradually lose moisture, and their starches and sugars begin to degrade.”(1)
There’s another bonus to eating frozen fruit & veg…the cost. It’s cheaper to buy them in a bag, and another reason is that they will obviously keep for much longer. You don’t need to worry about your Broccoli losing its crunch.
Best of the bunch:
- Frozen berries or Mango for smoothies or oats
- Avocado or Spinach for smoothies
- Broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, diced pumpkin for lunches / dinners
Myth 2: Fruit & Veg are equal
Fruit & Vegetables are an excellent and delicious source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. “Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables is an important way to keep body weight under control. This is because fruit and veg are filling without adding excessive kilojoules. Maintaining a healthy body weight is one of the best ways of reducing your risk of chronic diseases and many other health problems.”(2)
The recommended daily intake for Australian adults is at least 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day. The recommendation has been divided out between Fruit & Vegetables because while they both offer great nutritional value, Fruit is naturally higher in sugar. In the UK, the recommendation is still to eat ‘5 a day’(3), meaning 5 serves of Fruit & Vegetables and that leaves it open to interpretation and when you’re working towards a weight loss goal this detail could be making a big impact on your results.
Sweets for my sweet
Fruit is sweeter and easier to grab on the go…banana’s, apples, oranges, grapes or a handful of berries are much easier to eat on the way to work, at your desk or in the car on the school run. Chowing down on some broccoli is not quite as appealing or practical – though it will make for some interesting small talk with the people around you!
I’ve had many conversations with people about Fruit & Vegetables and they say they’re getting plenty, but actually it turns out they’re having nearly 5 serves of Fruit a day.
Pull it back to 2 a day and ramp up the Veggies.
Myth 3: 100% Fruit Juice is the same as a whole fruit
While we’re on the subject our sweet & tasty little friends, it’s important to talk about Fruit Juice. One of the most nutritious parts of a fruit is the pulp and skin, because they contain fibre (which is important for heart and digestive health and can also help you feeling full in between meals). However, the pulp & skin is often removed during processing, which means you’re left with a bottle of fruit sugar. Whilst there is nothing wrong with fruit sugars when eaten in the right amounts, drinking bottled juice can make it super easy to consume a lot of it in a short period of time.
Are homemade juices better than store bought?
You’re in control of what you’re putting into your smoothie or juice if you’re making it so that’s a great place to start. There are no additives in there or preservatives just 100% fruit. If you have one of those super duper juicers where you just throw the whole piece of fruit in you’re cashing in on the benefits I mentioned above – the pulp & the skin. Again, that’s a winner!
Now let’s look at the amount of fruit going in. If you had a piece of fruit as a snack you would eat usually just 1 at a time…1 apple or 1 banana. However, when you’re juicing you’re not going to get much from just 1 apple, which is where the serves come back into play. This dramatically increases the amount of fruit you are consuming in one go. When you eat the whole fruit, including the peel and pulp, the fibre that it contains can help your body to break it down more slowly and also tell your brain when you have had enough. Juice is drunk much faster so your body won’t be able to recognise these cues.
Everything in moderation. If you enjoy fruit juice just make sure you balance it out with more veggies, and don’t drink it every day. “The current advice is to limit consumption of fruit/vegetable juices and smoothies to a combined total of 150ml a day (one portion).”(3) Also if you do drink it try and keep it to meal times to reduce impact on teeth.
Myth 4: Gluten Free is Healthier
(GF) is all over menu’s these days, and it’s easy to think that it’s the healthiest option on the menu.
“A gluten-free diet is recommended for people with celiac disease, gluten-sensitivity or dermatitis herpetiformis (a skin disorder).”(4) Otherwise health benefits have not been established in relation to a gluten-free diet. It all comes down to moderation of everything else that you are eating – so it’s ok to keep eating carbs which contain gluten.
In simplistic terms, if something is being removed from food then it’s very likely being artificially replaced. Taking gluten out of products can have a massive effect on the texture of them. To help with this manufacturers may add extra sugars or other ingredients in order to improve the texture and taste of these foods. They’re also more expensive!
“The bottom line is that whether a gluten-free diet is healthy depends on which gluten-free foods you choose, how often you eat them and whether your other food choices are healthy ones.”(4) Don’t be fooled into thinking that just because it says ‘gluten free’ you are doing your body a favour.
Myth 5: Raw foods are healthier than cooked
There’s no 1 size fits all theory here. Yes, some foods are better for you when eaten raw, but there are others which could do with a little heat.
Cooking vegetables like carrots, asparagus and tomatoes makes it easier for our bodies to benefit from some of their protective antioxidants.
“On the other hand, there are certainly some veg, which benefit from being eaten raw. These include broccoli and watercress (both members of the cruciferous family). When these veg are heated an important enzyme is damaged, which means the potency of helpful anti-cancer compounds called glucosinolates, are reduced.”(5)
I hope this has helped to clear up some food myths for you. Remember to do your research before you make changes to your diet, rather than going on hearsay – because what’s right for your friend might not be right for you. One thing everyone can benefit from though is eating a bright, colourful and nutrient rich diet. I’ll be writing more about Veggies in the weeks to come so stay tuned!
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