Myth: Antioxidant supplements can replace fruit and vegetables
Popping a few antioxidant vitamins and drinking loads of fresh juice will make up for unhealthy eating habits... or will it? There’s strong evidence that a diet high in fruit, vegetables, wholegrains and tea can help protect against cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other health problems. These plant-based foods are a rich source of antioxidants and supplement manufacturers would have you believe that by extracting the antioxidants and putting them in a pill, you can obtain the same benefits as eating a healthy diet. However, the evidence also suggests that taking antioxidant pills offers no health benefits – nor does drinking juice contribute the same antioxidant effect as having the equivalent whole fruit or vegetables.
Possible reasons include that antioxidants in whole foods are digested differently to pills and juice, there may be synergistic effects with other nutrients in the plant, and that behaviour of antioxidants in a test tube is completely different from that in the body.
Verdict Popping antioxidant pills or sculling juice definitely doesn’t replace a diet rich in fruit, vegetables and wholegrains.
Myth: Popcorn is a healthy snack food
You may have heard recent claims that popcorn, which is a wholegrain, is one of the richest cereal sources of polyphenols – antioxidants offering numerous health benefits. However, not all popcorn is created equal, and it’s what’s added to the grain – the salt and “butter” - that rings alarm bells. A small serving of movie popcorn at one cinema chain contributes one-quarter of your daily saturated fat allowance, while the sodium is about 13%. Granted, it’s a better bet than a choc-top – one of those heart-stoppers will give you more than half of your recommended daily saturated fat intake . Home-cooked popcorn, even the microwave packs, are a healthier option.
Verdict Popcorn can be a healthy snack food, but movie popcorn should be regarded as a treat – just stick to the smallest size and have it with water.