There are a lot of nutrition myths out there that just won’t go away. These myths cover carbs, fat, protein, eggs, detoxing, your metabolism, salt, supplements and a lot more. There is so much misinformation doing the rounds on the internet these days that it can be hard to know what’s true and what’s not. So, we’ve decided to debunk a few of these myths for you in a series of blog posts.
The first blog in the series covered some of the myths surrounding carbs, fats, and salt. In this blog we’ll look at myths about bread, fresh food vs frozen, and dietary supplements.
The third will investigate myths surrounding eating “clean”, detoxing and eating more to boost your metabolism.
The fourth and final blog of the series will discuss not eating before bed, doing cardio on an empty stomach to lose fat, and the need for protein right after a workout.
The myths we’re going to cover in this blog are:
- Myth 4: Bread is just bad for everyone
- Myth 5: Fresh food is more nutritious than frozen
- Myth 6: Food nutrients are always superior to nutrients from supplements
Myth 4: Bread is bad
Bread has come under fire over the last few years, in particular white bread. It is often said that you shouldn’t eat bread because it makes you fat, and the most popular recent claim is that you shouldn’t eat bread because it contains lots of gluten … and gluten is now public enemy number one!
Here’s the truth about bread. It tends to be dense in calories so if you overeat there is a possibility you could gain weight due to consuming more calories than you need. Just the same as with any food. But bread is not inherently bad and does not make you fat the second it passes your lips!
The other problem linked to eating bread and gaining weight is that bread is often eaten with other high-calorie foods, such as butter, peanut butter, jam or honey, to name a few. If eaten regularly, this can lead to a calorie surplus and weight gain over time if you don’t watch your calories.
Bread can also tend to replace other nutrient-rich foods such as fruits and vegetables but if it is eaten as part of a balanced diet it is not ‘bad’ for you.
As for the gluten content, this is not harmful to everyone, as some gluten critics claim. Some people suffer with non-celiac gluten sensitivity, so bread is, of course, best avoided in these instances. For many people, however, gluten does not cause any problems.
Some people also suffer from wheat sensitivity which isn’t necessarily caused by gluten, and can be caused by other compounds, such as FODMAPS (short-chain carbohydrates known to promote intestinal distress by fermenting and producing gas).
So, basically, while some people are sensitive to wheat, the gluten content isn’t necessarily to blame, and other foods may also be implicated. Therefore we shouldn’t automatically blame bread for any gastrointestinal symptoms.
Another debate that continues to rage based on misinformation is the one about white bread versus whole-wheat bread. You’ve probably heard that eating white bread is bad but it’s OK if you eat whole-wheat bread, right?
Well, if you’re looking at the calorie content, whole-wheat bread provides a similar number of calories to white bread, so there’s not much advantage one way or the other there.
However, whole-wheat bread has a lower glycemic index and insulin index, so its consumption results in a lower insulin release. For that reason, and because of its higher fibre and micronutrient content, whole-wheat bread is claimed to be healthier than white bread.
But is it really? The actual differences between white and whole-wheat bread are actually relatively small. It’s true that whole-wheat bread has a higher fibre content than white bread but compared to the fibre content of most fruits and vegetables it is relatively insignificant.
You don’t need to eat whole-wheat products to get enough fibre in your diet if you consume enough fruit and vegetables.
It is worth bearing in mind though, that white bread does lose more micronutrients during processing but often these micronutrients are re-introduced later and the bread is then called ‘enriched’.
So, to sum up some of the many myths surrounding bread, it does not inherently cause weight gain unless you eat enough to put you in a calorie surplus. While some people are sensitive to wheat, the gluten content isn’t necessarily to blame, and other foods may also be implicated. And whole-wheat and white bread aren’t that different, and neither contain high levels of fiber or micronutrients.
Myth 5: Fresh food is more nutritious than frozen
The words ‘fresh food’ summon up wonderful images of market stalls full of freshly picked fruit and veg in a rainbow of colours. Fresh produce appeals to most people as it just sounds better than ‘frozen’ food but it isn’t necessarily more nutritious.
Fresh produce is defined as any food that is ripened postharvest (that is if it ripens during transport), or vine-ripened (if it is picked and sold ripe, for example at a farmer’s market or the like).
Frozen produce is generally vine-ripened before undergoing minimal processing prior to freezing. Most vegetables are also blanched in hot water for a few minutes before freezing, to inactivate enzymes that may cause unfavourable changes in colour, smell, flavour, and nutritional value.
Overall, most fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables have very similar nutritional content. While there can be slight differences for select nutrients between fresh and frozen produce they are small, and the choice really comes down to what best suits your taste, budget and lifestyle.
Myth 6: Food nutrients are always superior to nutrients from supplements
Just like fresh food has a better image than frozen food, ‘whole foods’ sounds way better than ‘supplements’. Anything natural tends to have positive connotations, whereas anything synthetic has negative ones.
The truth of the matter isn’t quite as clear cut as that though. Especially in regard to vitamins, foods are not always superior to supplements. However, there is the danger the other way that taking supplements can lead to overconsuming some nutrients to the point where they may harm your health.
It sounds like a minefield … well yes, the subject is a bit like that. Some supplement companies have a tendency to claim that dietary supplements are necessary for everyone.
One argument is that natural foods fail to provide enough vitamins and minerals due to increasing levels of carbon dioxide and intensive farming leading to less nutrient-dense crops.
However, there is no evidence that taking a multivitamin or multimineral will increase your life expectancy. Supplements are best used in instances where you cannot get enough of a certain vitamin or mineral from the foods you consume, such as vitamin B12 if you are vegan or a senior, or vitamin D if you seldom get enough sun exposure on your skin.
To sum up, food nutrients aren’t always superior to nutrients from supplements, and supplements have their use. Some people may benefit from supplementing specific vitamins or minerals, however in general supplements should complete a healthy diet, not replace it.
Next up we’ll be debunking the myths about eating “clean”, detoxing and eating more to boost your metabolism. Look out for our next blog, coming soon!