Never skip breakfast and other health myths that have been debunked

Over the years, we’d been fed information from magazines, books, the internet, TV, the radio, our friends and family – but when it comes down to it, it can be very hard to decipher what’s fact and what’s fiction, especially when the information conflicts.

To help you out, we’ve taken 10 of the most common health and myths and debunked them for you! Take a look and tell us if any of them surprised you.

1. A muesli bar is healthier than a chocolate bar

Despite the pictures of healthy-looking fruits and nuts on the packaging, muesli bars are notoriously high in sugar and fat. The dried fruit has high levels of concentrated sugar, while other ingredients like yoghurt and chocolate chips contain saturated fats, all of which are packed into these small snack bars. Additionally, they often contain sugar or corn syrup, which can quickly convert to fat in the body. If you’re really craving a sweet treat, try a fresh piece of fruit and a couple of squares of dark chocolate instead.

2. Dried fruit is as healthy as fresh fruit

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Dehydrating fruit removes all of the water from it, meaning the final dried fruit product is high in fructose and kilojoules. While there are many advantages of eating dried fruit, thanks to its high-fibre content, it’s best to limit your consumption and eat more fresh fruit instead.

3. Artificial sweeteners are perfectly safe

America’s Food and Drug Administration says artificial sweeteners are “Generally Regarded As Safe”. However, the worrying truth is that sweeteners which have previously been in this same category (like Orange Dye #1) have later been banned due to health concerns.

Whilst there has been no official research linking artificial sweeteners to specific illness, the National Cancer Institute does have an ongoing study about this. Artificial sweeteners also offer very little nutritional value, rating poorly on the glycemic index. Natural products like agave nectar could be a safer option for you.

4. An apple a day keeps the doctor away

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Back in 1940, an apple contained three times the amount of iron as today’s crops. According to nutritionist David Thomas, over years “the minerals and other nutrients that help to make fruit and vegetables good for you have been in startling decline”.

Whilst apples are still a good source of nutrition, Dr Thomas advises eating a wide variety of fruit and vegetables in 2016. A diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables can ward of heart attack, strokes and even certain cancers.

5. If you’ve defrosted frozen meat or chicken you can’t refreeze it

From a safety point of view, it is fine to refreeze defrosted meat or chicken or any frozen food as long as it was defrosted in a fridge running at 5°C or below. Some quality may be lost by defrosting then refreezing foods as the cells break down a little and the food can become slightly watery.

Another option is to cook the defrosted food and then divide into small portions and refreeze once it has stopped steaming. Steam in a closed container leads to condensation, which can result in pools of water forming. This, combined with the nutrients in the food, creates the perfect environment for microbial growth. So it’s always best to wait about 30 minutes before refrigerating or freezing hot food.

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6. Never skip breakfast

Many people believe that they must eat breakfast to kickstart their metabolism but in fact if you don’t have time, it is OK. According to a new study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition more than 300 overweight participants consumed diets that included either eating or skipping breakfast. At the end of 16 weeks, dieters who ate breakfast lost no more weight than the breakfast skippers. Breakfast is a great time to get a boost of energy, no matter what you choose, as long as it’s healthy.

7. Gluten free foods are healthier

With more and more gluten-free products available in supermarkets, it’s easy to think their benefits might help those people without celiac disease and gluten intolerance. If you don’t have a medical reason for following a gluten-free diet, there’s probably no benefit. In fact, gluten free foods have been found to have more sugar and fats than gluten foods.

8. We need to drink 8 glasses of water per day

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While drinking water is important for your health, there’s no need to go overboard – 1.5 litres a day is plenty for healthy people with normal kidney function. With that said, if you’re outdoors on a hot day or exercising, you will need more to keep hydrated. People over the age of 60 are less likely to feel dehydrated when they are, so more is better, but don’t overdo it.

9. Microwaving kills nutrients

When most people think of radiation, they think of negatively but the definition of the word refers to energy that travels in waves and spreads out as it goes. Microwaves used to cook foods are many, many times weaker than X-rays and gamma rays. In actual fact, heat and the amount of time you’re cooking affects nutrient losses, not the cooking method or the radiation. And because microwave cooking often cooks foods more quickly, it can actually help to minimise nutrient losses.

10. You crave certain foods because you’re deficient in something

This is a very big myth, and we’re more likely to crave something because we enjoy it or need it emotionally, rather than for survival. But there is one exception: iron. Researchers have found that lack of iron affects the body’s appetite mechanisms and makes you crave meat or even ice when you need more iron in your diet.

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11. Frozen fruits and veges lack nutrients

Frozen fruits and vegetables are frozen within hours of being picked which locks in nutrients, rather than eliminating them. But if you can, buy fresh produce when you can.

What food myth surprised you?