Biggest nutrition myths debunked by experts

Biggest nutrition myths debunked by experts (including THAT age-old debate over frozen vs fresh veg)

  • Microwaving your food zaps its nutrients is a myth shared on social media
  • Nutritionists say frozen food retains nutrients and nightshades are not all bad

Whether it is an influencer telling you to drink lemon water to lose weight or avoid microwaves over claims they zap essential vitamins, nutrition myths plague social media.

Although there is an endless stream of healthy eating advice on platforms such as TikTok and Instagram, not all of it is true, nutritionists warn.

But with hundreds of conflicting opinions, it’s almost impossible to know what we should and shouldn’t be eating.

So, MailOnline asked experts what they think are the most worrying myths about food made on social media…

The belief that microwaves kills the nutrients in food is not true, according to nutritionists who say it can actually help preserve nutrients 

Microwaves destroy nutrients

Social media is awash with claims that microwaves zap nutrients from food.

One TikTok by @cleanseclub, who has 258,000 followers, claims putting your food in the microwave ‘kills 94 per cent’ of the ‘nutrients that your food holds’. 

Another video on the platform by @cooperhealth, who has 3,000 followers, says you are ‘better off using a stove or an oven’ as microwaves remove antioxidants.

But in reality, all methods of cooking — such as steaming, roasting or microwaving — cause some nutrients to break down as heat can change their chemical structure.

This is especially true if a food is cooked for too long or at a very high temperature.

A TikTok by @cooperhealth, pictured left, says you are ‘better off using a stove or an oven’ and that microwaves cause antioxidants to decrease. Another TikTok by @cleanseclub, pictured right, who has 258.1K followers, claims putting your food in the microwave ‘kills 94 per cent’ of the ‘nutrients that your food holds’

Because they cook food quicker, microwaves can actually preserve vitamins better than other cooking methods, according to Dr Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian at Aston University in Birmingham.

It mean, in theory, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium will be better preserved in microwaved meals, he said. All three are vital for maintaining heart health, kidney function and preserving bones and muscles.

Microwaving is also better at retaining fibre, which is vital for gut health, compared to pressure cooking vegetables, according to a study published in Food Chemistry in 2002. 

Nightshade vegetables are dangerous 

Scrolling though TikTok may leave you believing tomatoes, peppers and potatoes are bad for you.

That’s because some wellness bloggers have been spreading the theory that nightshade vegetables — a family of around 2,500 plants — can cause inflammation and make arthritis worse. 

The theory is based on these vegetables containing lectins — a protein that binds cells together — which have been linked to irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis, when consumed in high quantities. 

One TikTok video by @iamkellytang, who is a nutrition coach with 11.6K followers, suggests ‘limiting’ or ‘avoiding’ nightshade vegetables if you have arthritis.

She claims nightshades are ‘known to cause inflammation in those who have joint pains, arthritis and chronic illnesses’. 

Wellness bloggers say nightshade vegetables such as, tomatoes, aubergines and potatoes cause inflammation, but they can actually support joint health, experts say

However, Dr Mellor says nightshade vegetables that are often eaten raw — such as tomatoes and peppers — only contain low levels of lectin.

And many foods high in the protein — such as kidney beans — are cooked before they are consumed, which breaks lectin down. 

Meanwhile, nightshade vegetables are also high in vitamin C, which can maintain healthy joints and don’t make arthritis worse, he says. 

Fresh is better than frozen

Although frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables last longer and are usually cheaper, many people avoid them due to the belief that fresh is always best. 

One video by self-confessed ‘fat loss expert’ @alejandrofts, who has 55.5K followers, suggests frozen food is ‘bad’ and ‘terrible for your body’.

But just because something is frozen doesn’t make it worse than fresh, experts say.

A video by self-confessed ‘fat loss expert’ @alejandrofts, who has 55.5K followers, is an example of this belief as he suggests frozen food is ‘bad’ and ‘terrible for your body’

Research has shown that frozen vegetables, such as frozen peas, actually loose less vitamin C, than veg kept at room temperature or in the fridge 

‘Actually, frozen fruits and vegetables can contain higher levels of nutrients,’ says London based nutritionist Kim Pearson. 

That’s because they are frozen at their peak — right after being picked — and put through minimal processing before freezing, meaning they keep a lot of their nutrients, explains Ms Pearson. 

In contrast, fresh produce can be in a supermarket for days or weeks after being picked, meaning they may have lost more nutrients by the time they are consumed.

For example, levels of vitamin C — considered vital for maintaining healthy skin and bones — can fall by up to half in just a couple of days.

Research has shown that frozen vegetables, such as frozen peas, lose less vitamin C than peas kept at room temperature or in the fridge. 

‘In one study, fresh peas were found to lose 15 per cent of their vitamin C after seven days when stored in the fridge, and 60 per cent when stored at room temperature. 

‘However, when frozen, they only lost 10 per cent after 12 months’, says Ms Pearson.

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