Is organic food really healthier? The biggest food myths, busted by a nutritionist.
Oranges are the best natural source of vitamin C. False. Oranges, and all citrus fruit, are a good source of vitamin C but there are other fruits and vegetables that are a better source. On a weight-for-weight basis red peppers contain more than twice as much vitamin C. Additionally, although they are not particularly rich in vitamin C, some foods like potatoes contribute quite a large amount of it to our diet simply because we eat so much.
Cooking fruit and veg reduces its nutritional value.
True and false. B vitamins, vitamin C and potassium are reduced by cooking because they are leached into cooking water and reduced by the heat. But some other things like the phytochemicals beta carotene (found in carrots, apricots and butternut squash) and lycopene (found in tomatoes) are more available when veg are cooked because cooking breaks down the tough cells walls and makes the phytochemicals easier for the body to access.
Another example is spinach – raw spinach is not a good source of iron because it contains oxalic acid which binds the iron making it more difficult for the body to use, but when you cook spinach it is easier for body to absorb the iron.
Too much of any fruit rots your teeth.
True-ish. Acid in fruit – especially thing like citrus fruit – can damage the enamel on the teeth. To reduce this damage dentists advise not to brush your teeth after eating fruit or drinking, which causes further damage. Simply rinse your mouth with water.
Carrots help you to see in the dark.
False-ish. The idea that carrots help you see in the dark is believed to have its roots in a World War II propaganda campaign. During the war, the British Royal Air Force developed a new type of radar technology that helped pilots shoot down German enemy planes at night. To prevent the Germans finding out that Britain was using radar to intercept bombers on night raids, they issued press releases stating that British pilots were eating lots of carrots to give them exceptional night vision.
However carrots do contain beta carotene which is converted into vitamin A. One of the symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency is night blindness. Deficiency of vitamin A is very rare in the UK but eating carrots would correct this deficiency and improve night vision but only to the point of a healthy person.
Eating celery burns more calories than you gain by eating it.
A myth. While it’s true that celery is a great choice for anyone watching their weight, and it’s certainly low in calories (one stalk contains just two calories), it’s not true that the body burns more calories digesting the celery.
Is organic food really healthier?
Yes and no. There seems to be no doubt that organic farming methods are better from an environmental perspective, but experts are divided as to whether organic foods are actually better for our health.
No one really knows for sure if pesticides cause health problems. Reports show that in most cases pesticide levels in foods are well within ‘acceptable safe limits’, those in favour or organic farming say it’s impossible to predict the dangers of the ‘cocktail effect’ of a mixture of different pesticides.
Does organic food contain more vitamins and minerals? Some studies show they do, others show no significant difference. However a recent study carried out at the University of California compared levels of phenolic compounds, powerful health promoting phytochemicals, in corn, strawberries and Marion berries (a berry similar to a raspberry) in crops grown organically and those grown using chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
What they discovered was that the organically grown corn and berries contained over 50% more of these phenolic compounds than the conventionally grown crops. One theory is plants produce phytochemicals to protect themselves from disease and pests so crops grown without the use of artificial pesticides may need to develop higher levels of these natural pesticides to survive.
Drinking fruit juice is as nutritious as eating whole fruit.
Fruit juice is pretty healthy and one small glass ( 150ml) will count as one of your five a day, but fruit juice contains less fibre than whole fruit and the sugar is more rapidly absorbed – so whole fruit is a healthier choice.
Dried fruit and fresh fruit have equal nutrition.
No. When the water is removed from fruit the calories and nutrients are concentrated so on weight for weight based dried fruit contains higher levels of vitamins and minerals – but it’s also higher in calories. For example, 100g of dried apricots contains 177 calories, while 100g of fresh apricots contains just 36.
Fruit shouldn’t be eaten after 2pm.
False. There’s no reliable science or possible reason to support this – a nutritional nonsense. Were you convinced by any of these food myths? Which myths should be debunk next? Tell us in the comments section below.
Information and Image have been shared from an Artcle by Tomé Morrissy-Swan, published in The Telegraph, on July 2nd, 2019. Image Credit: The Telegraph, 2019.