Internet, social media, ”professionals” with no proper certification… these are more often than not unreliable sources of information when it comes to health and nutrition. The reason why they’ve become more and more popular is that people want a quick fix, something they can understand easily. Unfortunately, science isn’t always easy to understand (even for health professionals sometimes!). Luckily, there are many nutritionists who simplify scientific articles for everyone. Still, we live in a world where it is up to the client to validate the professional’s credentials before scheduling a consultation.
Here are some common misconceptions about nutrition that I read online recently and what the truth is behind each of them, as backed by science 🙂
1- Oranges & Orange Juice Have the Same Quality of Vitamin C
Inside an orange, vitamin C molecules are contained inside the cells of the fruit that protect them from direct exposure to oxygen. When an orange is juiced, you remove most of the cells (which is also the fibre that the fruit provides you), therefore exposing the vitamin C to oxygen. What happens then is that vitamin C (ascorbic acid) turns into deshydroascorbic acid (DHA), which in itself isn’t dangerous, because you can also find DHA in fruit, and, in fact, the molecule goes back and forth between ascorbic acid and DHA. However, DHA has a half-life of 1 hour. This means that every hour, 50% of the DHA turns into diketogulonic acid (DKG), which in itself isn’t dangerous per-say, but your juice will have less antioxidant properties (and other benefits of vitamin C) than if it were in fruit or if the juice was freshly pressed.
For this reason, oranges and orange juice don’t have the exact same quality of vitamin C.
2- Canned Tuna is a Dangerous Source of Mercury
Mercury poisoning comes from the consumption of large amounts of mercury that you can find in some food items, such as fish. However, in this case, only large tuna fish is the main concern here. This is because the fish you find in canned tuna are the tiny ones and have very little threat to them. The bigger fish eat these smaller fish that contain traces of contaminant and it accumulates in their body, making them more dangerous for consumption.
For this reason, unless you’re eating canned tuna 18 times a day, you should be more than fine.
3- Fresh Fruit Have More Nutrients Than Frozen Fruit
If anything, freezing fruit reduces bacterial and enzymatical activity, which prolongs the lives of nutrients (by slowing down their degradation), but does not destroy them. We live in a world that tries to convince us that frozen fruit is bad or worse than fresh fruit, when, in reality, the difference in nutritional value between the two is very little.
4- Coconut Oil is Healthier Than Other Oils
Coconut oil (also called Coprah oil) isn’t healthier for you because it comes from coconuts. In fact, it contains about 87% saturated fats, about 6% monounsaturated fats and very few poly-unsaturated fats (hint: the more unsaturated fats are, the healthier they are). In regards to identifying saturated fats, you can easily spot them: oils that are solid at ambient temperature (around 18-20 degrees) contain mainly saturated fats. This includes butter, margarine, coconut oil, palm kernel oil, etc. Those who are liquid at ambient temperature (for example olive oil, avocado oil, flax oil, and other vegetable oils) are mainly unsaturated.
5- Skip the Alkaline Diet
I went straight for the advice on this one. It isn’t a misconception, because you should definitely skip an alkaline diet. The point of an alkaline diet is to supposedly rid your body of acid components that are dangerous for you in the long run. I can easily assure you that this is a fad. The pH of our bodies is set at 7,40 on average. Sometimes this pH varies slightly among individuals, which, like all aspects of life, is normal. The pH of lemon and orange ranges between 2 and 3, and the pH of animal and dairy products range from 7 to 10 (depending on many variables, but the idea is there).
Every second of every day, your body acts to maintain this optimal pH level (as well as our body temperature, our blood content, etc). This is a process called homeostasis. If our body’s pH varied greatly depending on everything we ate, we’d all be dead. If your body is in reasonable health, a balanced diet and exercise are all you need to maintain an optimal pH level. If you have any illnesses or issues with organ function, consult a doctor immediately.
Hope you learned something new today. Let’s discuss in the comments!