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Microwaves, chocolate and frozen veg - food myths busted

HAVE you ever wondered whether frozen veggies are devoid of vitamins? Or if microwaves cause cancer?

Nutrition advice can sometimes be a bogeyman, scaring us into misunderstanding the pros and cons of what we put on our plate.

Today, we're busting some myths.

Myth 1: Are fresh veggies more nutritious than frozen?

Frozen veggies are usually picked in their prime and snap-frozen very soon after harvesting, which means they are chock-a-broccoli full of nutrients, while fruit and vegetables destined to be shipped to fresh-produce aisles, can be degraded of some nutrients due to long travel time.

That said, growing your own vegetables or buying them fresh from your local farmers markets, may offer more health advantages.

In contrast, canned veg tend to lose a lot of nutrients during the preservation process, which is why it's important to always read the food label or opt for fresh or frozen veggies as an alternative.

Frozen vegetables can be an important part of a convenient and nutritious diet, serving as a handy freezer friend for those busy days when you don't have time to prepare a nine-course degustation.

Verdict: They're easy to prepare and can provide you with a healthy homemade meal, saving you from the temptation of takeaway!

Myth 2: Is chocolate good for you?

Chocolate has been found, in some studies, to reduce blood pressure and the risk of stroke, as well as benefitting cardiovascular health, thanks to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents that protect the inner walls of blood vessels from atherosclerosis.

If you crave chocolate, try to go for dark chocolate, with 70 per cent cacao solids and less sugar, with fat derived from cocoa butter and the added benefits of iron and magnesium.

Keep in mind though that if you're watching your waistline, there are many other better options out there.

Verdict: Best consumed in moderation and as part of a healthy balanced diet!

The best way to up your antioxidants is to munch on a variety of plant based foods.

Myth 3: Can your microwave give you cancer?

Microwave ovens do not make foods radioactive.

Microwaves heat food by producing radiation which is absorbed by water molecules in the food - this makes the water molecules vibrate and produce heat, which cooks the food - they do not make any changes to food that aren't made in any other cooking method.

In fact, microwaving is actually one of the best ways to retain all the healthy nutrients in your veggies.

Boiling can leech out valuable vitamins and minerals, but because microwaving heats up food without having to use a lot of water, it helps foods to stay nutrient packed.

Verdict: Microwaves are safe!

Myth 4: Is coffee bad for your health? 

Systematic reviews of research judge the current evidence as mostly in favour of drinking coffee.

Coffee is linked to a decreased risk of premature death, type two diabetes and some types of cancer, although more research needs to be done.

If you're a latte lover, keep in mind that adding milk and sugar to a few cups a day can significantly increase your calorific load - potentially contributing to weight gain and increased risks of chronic disease.

Verdict: It may be hard to resist, but try to avoid addiction to calorie laden drinks.

If you've got a food bogeyman to bust, go to Cancer Council's iheard.com.au for all the answers in relation to cancers.

And keep focussed on eating healthily, staying active, quitting smoking and being SunSmart!

More information about Cancer Council Queensland is available at www.cancerqld.org.au or call Cancer Council on 13 11 20.

Topics:  cancer council eating editors picks food



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