Eat this, not that. This food is better than that. Bet you have come across many food and nutrition beliefs or claims, which may confuse you. Let our nutritionist clarify some common food myths before you fall victim to food fads purported to be “healthy” or make another diet choice that could do more harm than good!
Myth 1: Rock/Sea salt is better than table salt
Fact: False. Sea salt, rock salt and table salt have similar sodium content. It is recommended to keep your sodium intake to less than 2,000mg per day, which is equivalent to about 1 teaspoon of salt. Whichever type of salt you choose, it is also essential to practice moderation.
Myth 2: Drinking fruit juice is as good as eating fruits
Fact: Fruit juices seem like a relatively healthy beverage option compared to soft drinks or sweetened coffee/tea. However, you will be surprised to find out that a glass (250ml) of orange juice contains about 4.5 teaspoons of natural sugars while eating an orange as a whole fruit gives you less than half of that amount! This is because a few oranges are needed to make a glass of juice, and hence the juice will contain the sugar content of a few oranges. Furthermore, fibre found in the fruit helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, keeping one feeling fuller for a longer time. So, go for fresh fruits instead for an extra boost of fibre without the burden of extra sugar.
Myth 3: Carbohydrates are bad for you
Fact: Carbohydrates break down to glucose, the primary source of energy for our brain, cells, tissues and organs. They are the preferred energy source compared to protein and fats as excess glucose stored in the body is used during periods of starvation when carbohydrates are not available. Go for unrefined carbohydrates such as whole grains, which are a good source of fibre. Fibre prolongs the digestion of carbohydrates and helps to keep you full for longer. Unrefined carbohydrates are also lower in glycaemic index (GI), which means that they are converted to glucose at a slower rate, making them suitable for people with diabetes.
Myth 4: I can replace fruits with vegetables
Fact: Different fruits and vegetables provide different vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. Consuming both fruits and vegetables is essential for us to get the variety of nutrients our bodies need. The recommendation is to consume two servings of fruits and two servings of vegetables daily.
Myth 5: A vegetarian diet is the best for lowering cholesterol levels
Fact: Since dietary cholesterol is only present in animal foods, a vegetarian diet is thought to have little or no cholesterol. However, this is untrue as it is dependent on the type of foods included in a vegetarian diet.
With plant-based meat alternatives becoming commonplace in supermarkets, one should be aware that fats such as coconut oil and palm oils are widely added to plant-based meat alternatives to give them a similar mouthfeel to animal meat. These oils are high in saturated fats and can increase your LDL (bad) cholesterol.
The key to managing blood cholesterol levels is moderating the type and amount of dietary fats consumed. Having good fats (monounsaturated fat and polyunsaturated fat) in place of bad fats (saturated fat and trans fat) can help to lower blood cholesterol levels.
Myth 6: There is no need to restrict the consumption of products with the Healthier Choice Symbol (HCS).
Fact: All foods, including products with HCS, should be consumed in moderation.
Myth 7: A ‘reduced-fat’ product is the same as a ‘low fat’ product.
Fact: Reduced-fat products have a lower fat content when compared to similar products from other brands. On the other hand, a ‘low fat’ product contains 3g or less of fat per 100g, or 1.5g or less of fat per 100ml.
When a product claims to be ‘reduced’ or ‘less’ of a certain nutrient, it does not mean that it is free of that nutrient; it simply means it contains less of that nutrient.
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