The Top Five Dietary Misconceptions

Photo Credit Tax Credits (Flickr).

DIETARY advice has changed throughout the years and we can’t help but to notice the conflicting information we receive in daily news as research moves forward. Let’s take a look at the latest “big discoveries” and see if we can separate the fact from fiction.

No. 1 Fats

Photo Credit Craig Allen, (Flickr).
Photo Credit Craig Allen, (Flickr).

The most recent and definitely a shocker to all: the widely advocated piece of dietary advice from the 1970s and 1980s has been fooling us all along according to new research. It has been found that reducing your intake of fat and saturated fat does not help to decrease the risk of heart disease.

This advice, as it turns out, has been followed by millions of people and yet does not have any trial evidence to back it up.

The researchers highlight several caveats in the evidence available at the time when this advice came to light. No women were included in the study; no trial tested the dietary recommendations and also no trial concluded that dietary guidelines should be drawn up.

No. 2 Black Pepper

Photo Credit Gisela Francisco (Flickr).
Photo Credit Gisela (Flickr).

This seemingly harmless additive may now be the cause of many health problems according to the latest research. The not-so-innocent peppercorns are actually quite bad for you if eaten frequently.

The concern here lies in one of its components, Safrole, which also happens to be found in small amounts in star anise, nutmeg, witch hazel and basil.

In the 1960s, the Food and Drug Administration banned the use of Safrole in food in the United States after it was found that injecting large amounts caused liver cancer in lab rats. However, eating moderate amounts is not comparable to injecting large quantities of the pure chemical into the abdomen of rats, so we may still be safe when it comes to this one.

No. 3 Red Wine

Photo Credit Rob and Dani (Flickr).
Photo Credit Rob and Dani (Flickr).

Apologies to all red wine lovers, 2014 research reports show that the alcoholic beverage is, in fact, bad for your health even in small doses. Drinking just two glasses a day will cause enough damage long term, a fact which challenges previous claims that moderate amounts of alcohol could have a protective effect on the heart.

These previous theories were never backed up with adequate biological examinations and are therefore inaccurate and misguided.

Dr Tim Chico, a heart disease expert said that there are few if any health benefits to drinking alcohol, even in moderation:

“People are confused that one day doctors say one thing, the next come out with something different. To reduce your risk of heart disease you should walk to your greengrocer – not drive to your off-licence.”

No. 4 Green Tea

Photo Credit A Girl with Tea (Flickr).
Photo Credit A Girl with Tea (Flickr).

A definite crowd-pleaser among the health conscious, but is it always good for you? As it turns out, no. The American College of Gastroenterology released new recommendations about green tea extract saying it can be toxic and it can also cause liver failure.

The culprit here is in one of its components called Catechin. While Catechins are antioxidants, it is possible to have too much of a good thing and this one can be deadly. Catechins target mitochondria—the powerhouses of your cells—and prevent them from being able to help your body metabolise food and turn it into energy.

This is what can then lead to jaundice, hepatitis, or liver failure.

No. 5 Grapefruit

Photo Credit Duncan Hull (Flickr).
Photo Credit Duncan Hull (Flickr).

Yes, that’s right. Your breakfast staple is now bad for you according to scientists (but only if taken with certain medications).

Researchers warned that the fruit reacts with a large number of medicines taken by thousands of Irish every day, causing devastating side-effects ranging from stomach bleeding to kidney problems, muscle aches and irregular heartbeats.

Doctors say the public are woefully ignorant about the dangers of mixing grapefruit with medicine and that many are putting themselves needlessly at risk.The range of drugs affected by grapefruit is vast and covers virtually every type of medicine, from painkillers and sedatives to drugs that fight cancer and lower blood pressure.

So there you have it. Rest assured this list will expand over the coming years to incorporate even more foods that you once thought were the bees knees when it came to healthy living or not so healthy living.

Maybe some of these items will make their way back into good graces again in a months time based on new research, you never know. Stranger things have happened.

About Robyn Gleeson 10 Articles
A little bit of everything.


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