Only 1 in 3 Brits understand what a ‘good diet’ is

08/02/2019 - 06:00
Only one third of Brits understand what a ‘good diet’ consists of, according to research by The Institute of Optimum Nutrition (ION).

It found that when seeking nutritional advice, 21% turned to social media as a source of information despite many social media sites containing ‘fake news and unproven advice’.

Retaining information from ‘dubious’ sources could explain why 6% of the public believed that carbohydrates are an unhealthy component to a diet and 7% think fat should be avoided.

It said that “with the internet and the media providing such large amounts of conflicting and deceptive nutrition advice, it is unsurprising that so many fail at maintaining that so many fail at maintaining a healthier lifestyle.”

The survey of 2001 people found that 78% saw the importance and value of nutrition on every day wellbeing, with 45% understanding that nutrition impacts their health and 33% identifying that nutrition affects mental health.

Almost half (49%) of those surveyed said that they would love to have a better understanding of nutrition with 26% even admitting that they find nutritional advice confusing and conflicting.

Mike Murphy, Nutritional Therapist at Saffron Wellness Ltd and a Health Lecturer at ION ‘myth-busted the most common fake food news.

Myth 1. Eating fat makes you fat

In fact, the opposite can be true. Low-fat diets are ineffective at long-term weight loss. Our brain is more than 60% fat and the fat in our diet helps to promote satiety and a more stable metabolism. The trick is to focus on healthy fats such as those found in nuts and seeds, oily fish like salmon or mackerel as well as extra virgin olive oil; and to not eat these fats in the presence of too many starchy carbs.

Myth 2. We need to drink milk for strong bones

Whilst it’s true that dairy products are high in calcium, so too are many other foods; Dark leafy green vegetables such as Kale have comparable calcium levels while sesame seeds contain more than eight times the calcium of cow's milk, and both these sources are also richer in Magnesium and Vitamin K which are also needed for strong bones.

Myth 3. Eggs are bad for cholesterol

Although egg yolks are high in dietary cholesterol, they are full of important nutrients and the advice to restrict their consumption has now been eliminated because they don’t actually raise your blood cholesterol much.

Most of the cholesterol we need is made by our liver and consuming eggs has actually been shown to improve HDL (good) cholesterol.

Myth 4. Red meat is bad for you

Putting the environmental argument aside, the World Health Organisation has labelled red meat as a “probable” carcinogen to humans. They use the word “probable” because the studies don’t separate all the other factors that can be involved in cancer development, like a lack of fruit, vegetables and fibre intake as well as exercise and smoking and alcohol consumption.

The main issue is with cured, smoked and processed meats which can contain chemical compounds that have been found to damage DNA that could potentially initiate the cancer process. So if eating less red meat is on your agenda, for whatever reason, start by cutting back on the cured, smoked and processed forms.

Myth 5. Salt is bad for you

Sodium is an essential mineral that we cannot survive without. The problem is when we eat too much of it, as studies do link high salt intake to high blood pressure.

Many processed foods are very high in salt and so people who consume too much salt are typically guilty of consuming too many processed foods, which are generally unhealthy and lack nutrients.

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