Scientists are now having second thoughts about which foods are best for us.
Bring back the butter and bacon — it seems fatty foods might not be the evil nemesis that we've been led to believe.
According to a new Cambridge University study, saturated fat doesn't cause cardiovascular disease, nor does eating lots of ‘healthy' polyunsaturated fats affect our risk of a heart attack.
“It's not saturated fat that we should worry about,” explains Dr Rajiv Chowdhury, lead author of the study. “It's the high-carbohydrate or sugary diet that should be the focus of dietary guidelines.”
The findings go against 40 years of traditional advice urging us to steer clear of butter and cheese and eat more foods rich in omega 3 to ward off heart disease.
But it's not just fats that have had us confused about what's healthy and what's not.
We asked some of Ireland's top nutritional experts to help clear up some of the biggest and most confusing food myths.
Eggs are bad for you
A few years ago we learned that egg yolks could be almost as bad for us as smoking cigarettes. In fact, over the years eggs have received a really bad rap, but according to consultant dietician nutritionist Sarah Keogh, (eatwell.ie) we've nothing to fear.
She explains: “When scientists first discovered cholesterol=blocking arteries, they assumed it was the cholesterol food that was the problem. Eggs have cholesterol so they went on the hit list.”
But actually research consistently shows that the cholesterol we eat has very little impact on how much cholesterol is in our blood.
In fact, when we eat cholesterol from foods like eggs, the body produces less of it. Cholesterol levels are largely determined by genetics, exercise and stress with diet playing a surprisingly small role.
Keogh adds: “We know now that eggs are not only safe to eat but actually have great benefits for eyes as they contain lutein and zeaxanthin — antioxidants that help protect eyes from macular degeneration.”
Diet coke must be better for you than ‘fat' coke, right?
Not necessarily. Heather Leeson, nutritional therapist and director of Positive Nutrition and Glenville Nutrition Ireland (glenvillenutrition.ie) says: “Artificial sweeteners actually appear to reinforce our sweet tooth and leave us craving more sugar with new research also indicating that these substitutes may interfere with our normal metabolic processes and be linked to obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.”
Fruit juice is a healthy option