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Healthy food myths....busted!

Good morning and Happy Tuesday!  I hope you had a wonderful weekend. Please do keep sending me new ideas and questions for my weekly email as it is very useful to base these on your queries. Thank you so much for your fabulous reviews - I feel honoured to have helped so many people and am glad that you've found me so helpful :)

There are many different views, stories, myths and scare tactics amongst the media when it comes to food. One week coffee is good, the next week it is bad.  I thought I would put down a list of some of the myths and questions that come up and what the latest research shows.


Does olive oil prevent heart disease?

Short answer: Yes. The health benefits of olive oil come from the presence of polyphenols, antioxidants that reduce the risk of heart disease and some cancers. But to get these healthy compounds, consumers should buy good-quality, fresh "extra-virgin" olive oil, which has the highest polyphenol content.  Try having a sprinkle on your salads to increase your intake of good fats.

Do drinks high in sugar lead to diabetes?

Short answer: Yes. The majority of health research has shown soft drinks and high sugar juices to be bad to our health. A 2004 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that those who drank one or more sugary drinks per day increased their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 83% compared to those who consumed less than one of these beverages per month.

Do nuts make you fat?

Short answer: No. As much as 75% of a nut is made up of fat.  But eating fat doesn't necessarily make you fat.  The bigger factor leading to weight gain is portion-size.  Luckily, nuts are loaded with healthy fats that keep you full and (hopefully) prevent you from overeating.  They're also a good source of protein and fiber. Stick to 10-15 nuts in one serving, which is around 150-300 calories, depending on the type of nut (cashews are one of the lowest, macadamias are the highest).

Is walking as effective as running?

Short answer: Yes. Studies have shown that how long you exercise is more important than how hard you exercise.  Running is a more efficient form of exercise, but not necessarily better for you. A six-year study published in the journal Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology found that walking at a moderate pace and running produced similar health benefits, so long as the same amount of energy was expended. Walking the same distance is as good as running, it just takes longer!

Is drinking fruit juice as good for you as eating fruit?

Short answer: No. Calorie for calorie, whole fruit provides more nutritional benefits than drinking the pure juice of that fruit.  That's because when you liquefy fruit and throw away the pulp, many ingredients like fiber, calcium, vitamin C and other antioxidants are lost. For comparison, a 200ml glass of orange juice contains 120 calories and 30 grams of sugar but only 0.3 grams of dietary fiber and 16 milligrams of calcium, whereas one orange contains 60 calories, 12 grams of sugar but has 3.1 grams of fiber and 60 milligrams of calcium.

Are all wheat breads better for you than white bread?

Short answer: No. Not all wheat breads are created equal. Wheat breads that contain all parts of the grain kernel, including the nutrient-rich germ and fiber-dense bran, must be labeled "whole grain" or "whole wheat." Some wheat breads are just white bread with a little bit of coloring to make the bread appear healthier, so keep an eye out for the words ‘whole grain/whole-wheat’ to ensure you receive all the benefits. In fact, give most breads a miss altogether - have you looked at the ingredient list lately? 

Does coffee cause cancer?

Short answer: No. Coffee got a bad reputation in the 1980s when a study linked drinking coffee to pancreatic cancer, however research since then has disproved this.  More recently, health studies have swung in favor of the caffeinated beverage. Coffee has been linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes, Parkinson's disease and liver cancer.  One to two coffees per day is fine, any more and you start to rely on caffeine for your energy levels, can cause your blood pressure to rise and adversely affect your sleep.

Do eggs raise cholesterol levels?

Short answer: No. Although egg yolks are a major source of cholesterol, researchers have learned that saturated fat has more of an impact on cholesterol in your blood than eating foods that contain cholesterol. Healthy individuals with normal blood cholesterol levels should now feel free to enjoy foods like eggs in their diet every day, the lead researcher from a 25-year on cholesterol concluded. One to two eggs on several days per week is a healthy addition to your diet. Try having scrambled or poached eggs for breakfast when you have more time, have an egg sandwich for lunch one or two days or make an omelette for dinner one night per week.

Can yogurt ease digestive problems?

Short answer: Yes. Our digestive tract is filled with microorganisms — some good and some bad. Yoghurt, especially natural yoghurt, contains beneficial bacteria, which helps to maintain a healthy balance in the gut. Probiotics can also relieve several gastrointestinal problems, including constipation and diarrhoea.

Is red wine better for you than white wine?

Short answer: Yes. Red wine contains much more reservatrol than white wine, which is an antioxidant found in the skin of grapes that has been shown to fight off diseases associated with ageing.
Here is a link to some more myths and old wives tales -

Have a fantastic week and do keep your suggestions coming!