The biggest nutrition myths busted

Don’t swallow apple seeds as they are poisonous/ Apples contain cyanide

Apple seeds contain amygdalin, a plant compound known as a cyanogenic glycoside. When apple seeds are chewed or crushed and metabolized, the amygdalin turns into hydrogen cyanide, which is poisonous The cyanide is only produced if the seeds are damaged (i.e., crushed or chewed), so swallowing a few seeds whole is virtually harmless

Brown eggs are healthier than white

Brown eggs contain the same nutritional value as white eggs. The only difference being the eggs are laid by different types of hens. Brown eggs come from brown hens and white eggs come from white hens.

Microwaving food depletes nutrients or causes harmful compounds in the food

Most people believe microwaving food depletes the nutritional value of the food more than traditional cooking methods which is not true. Microwaves turn electric energy into electromagnetic waves. These waves stimulate molecules in the food, making them heat up, (similar to rubbing your hands together to create heat) cooking the food evenly. Any form of cooking has the potential to deplete nutrients as some vitamins are heat sensitive. Whenever you cook food, you’ll have some loss of nutrients. Nutrients such as folate, vitamin C and the b vitamins are destroyed by overcooking therefore the longer the food is cooked and the higher the temperature the more nutrients that will be lost. The best cooking method for retaining nutrients is one that cooks quickly, exposes food to heat for the smallest amount of time and uses only a minimal amount of liquid. Lightly microwaving vegetables may actually help retain more nutrients than traditional methods such as boiling as the nutrients leach out into the water.

Soy is full of female hormones

Soy contains phytoestrogens or plant based oestrogen that may have a mild oestrogen activity within the body. Foods high in phyto-oestrogens include soy products (soy milk or yoghurt, tofu and tempeh), flaxseed, legumes and whole grains. The phyto-oestrogens in soy foods are also known as isoflavones.

These phytoestrogens bind to oestrogen receptor sites within the body protecting us from stronger more harmful oestrogens such as xeno oestrogens or foreign oestrogens. These foreign oestrogens can be found in herbicides, plastics and synthetic hormones and are thousands of times stronger than the plant based phytoestrogens. Interestingly the countries that eat more soy appear to have less oestrogen related cancers. Lower rates of breast and prostate cancer in some Asian countries, where soy is prevelant in the diet. Overall studies suggest that consumption of soy foods may slightly lower the risk of breast and prostate cancers.

You can’t cook with olive oil as it becomes carcinogenic when heated

Extra virgin olive oil EVOO is the healthiest oil we can eat due to its rich antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Whilst EVOO has a lower smoke point than some vegetable oils the high antioxidant content protects the oil from oxidation (breaking down) thereby making it a safe oil to use during cooking. Many people believe that due to the low smoke point EVOO breaks down and forms carcinogenic compounds when heated. Recent research conducted in an Australian oil specialist laboratory has found that Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil (AEVOO) is the safest and most stable oil to cook with, Canola Oil, Grapeseed Oil and Rice Bran Oil were found to be least stable and produced the highest levels of trans fats and polar compounds when heated.

The research showed that the smoke point of an oil was not a good predictor of oil stability and suitability for cooking at domestic temperatures. Australian Extra Virgin Olive Oil is rich in mono-unsaturated fat (e.g. has one double bond in the fatty acid chain). However, many refined oils are higher in poly-unsaturated fat, which is more prone to oxidation (less stable due to multiple double bonds) and therefore degrade to harmful by-products more readily. The hotter the EVOO oil or the longer period of time we cook with it, we will lose antioxidant benefits thereby reducing the antioxidant health benefits of the oil but it is more beneficial to cook with EVOO over many plant oils which oxidise more easily due to their lack of antioxidant compounds.

Carrots help you see better

Carrots contain beta carotene which converts to retinol the active form of vitamin A within the body. Vitamin A is essential to help produce rhodopsin a substance which is found in our eyes and helps us see at night time. Vitamin A is an important vitamin for our night vision and therefore there is some truth that carrots are good for our eyes.

Don’t go swimming after a meal or you could drown

The old saying that you should wait at least 30 minutes after eating before you swim is based on the idea that after a big meal, blood will be diverted away from your arms and legs, towards your stomach’s digestive tract. And if your limbs don’t get enough blood flow to function, you’re at risk of drowning. The truth is, we have enough blood to keep all our body parts functioning after a big meal

Diet soft drinks help you lose weight

There are no studies to show that drinking diet soft drinks help you lose weight and are better for diabetics. Diet drinks, sweetened with artificial sweeteners like aspartame and sucralose, are either very low calorie or calorie free. Some studies even show that diet soft drinks may lead to weight gain due to a lack of satiety and cause fluctuations in blood sugar making them a non safe alternative for type 2 diabetics. For people with diabetes, diet soda has been associated with weight gain and symptoms of metabolic syndrome. Some sweeteners in diet soda even cause sugar and insulin spikes in the blood.

Don’t swallow chewing gum as it can tangle up your intestines

Since chewing gum has been chewed, parents have been trying to prevent their children from swallowing it by warning them of "gum trees," strangled intestines and more. Truth is, if you decide to chew a piece and you happen to swallow it, don't worry - it will pass right through in a few days. Chewing gum and bubble gum should not be given to small children because of the risk of choking or causing a blockage in the throat or digestive tract.

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