With an abundance of false advertising and old wives’ tales surrounding the healthy eating industry, it can be tough to know what is really healthy and what just looks that way.
Here are the truths behind some common food misconceptions.
- Healthy means low fat
Many people think that healthy food is low-fat food – and vice versa – but this is actually not a valid equation. Firstly, many low fat foods, yogurts and snacks for example, are not actually all that healthy. The second thing to consider is that all fats are not the same, and some are actually very healthy. Monounsaturated fats, found in avocados, olive oil and nuts, can actually help weight loss, as well as keeping your heart healthy and lowering cholesterol.
When comparing foods, it is important therefore to consider the type of fat in your foods – and also the food’s nutritional value – as well as quantities of fat.
- Potatoes count as one of your recommended fruit and vegetable
The actual fact is that potatoes – in any form – are not the best choice of vegetable. While potatoes are still a good source of fibre, B vitamins and potassium, they are classified as a starchy food – or carbohydrate – rather than a vegetable.
To increase your portions of vegetables, try replacing your baked potato with a sweet potato now and then, or mash a parsnip, sweet potato or swede in to your usual potato mash.
- Only fresh fruit counts
Fortunately, it is not all bad on the fruit and vegetable score, as getting in your recommended portions of fruit is actually a lot easier than many people think. While eating whole fresh fruit is a great way to fill up and get healthy, fruit juice, dried fruit, frozen fruit and tinned fruit also count towards your recommended portions.
Not only that but many fruit-based desserts – such as apple pie, fruit crumble and fruitcake – count too. Although they may not be as great for your waistline or general health, provided they contain a decent amount of fruit they will still count toward your recommended daily intake.
- Natural doesn’t mean healthy
Just as a low-fat label does not automatically signal a healthy snack, neither does an “organic” or “natural” one. Although organic foods may be healthier than non-organic versions of the same snack, being organic or natural does not exclude foods from being loaded with salt, sugar or saturated fats.
Also, be wary of labels that state foods “contain” organic or natural ingredients, as very often this does not mean much at all. A fruit-flavoured product, for example, may claim it contains real fruit, but this does not mean there is any substantial amount in the product – or indicate what the rest of the ingredients are.
- Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar
Although brown sugar contains small traces of minerals (due to the presence of molasses), in reality they are such small traces that they are no real benefit to our health. Also, at the end of the day brown sugar is still sugar, and it brings with it all the same calories and health risks of white sugar, including increased risk of heart disease, tooth decay and obesity.
- Cereals are the healthiest way to start the day
This is shockingly inaccurate, as sugar levels in packaged cereals are often extremely high, even in the most “healthy” sounding brands. A recent study found that only one of the 100 leading brands of cereals they tested had healthy levels of fat, sugar and salt, while 22 of the cereals aimed at children contained more sugar per serving than a jam doughnut.
- Bottled water is better than tap water
We are constantly encouraged to drink more water for our health, and a common misconception is that drinking it by the bottle is a much healthier way of doing this. While there has been no scientific evidence that bottled water is better, some studies have actually suggested it is worse.
Author: Gesture Chidhanguro