Listicle: Busting five common food myths

This article was published on Alive magazine’s website on 3 June 2016 and can be viewed here. The health and wellbeing magazine and website were produced by myself and 21 of my City University London MA international journalism print pathway colleagues from scratch over the span of 6-7 weeks
It’s hard to know which news reports are accurate when it comes to health and food. So Alive asked an expert to clarify some of our most commonly held beliefs.

1. Red meat increases the risk of bowel cancer

According to the NHS, eating more than 90g of red meat per day can increase the risk of bowel cancer. The health service suggests cutting down to 70g per day (the average UK consumption).
Dr Frankie Phillips, registered dietician and spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says: “For most people the amount of red meat eaten doesn’t exceed this amount.” “If you do want to cut down, bulk out meat dishes with extra pulses such as beans or lentils.”

2. Fruit juices (and smoothies) are filled with sugar

Harvard University’s School of Public Health says that although there are more nutrients in fruit juice, the calorie count matches that of fizzy drinks. Dr Phillips says: “When fruit is juiced it releases sugars, which are potentially damaging to teeth. It also loses its fibre.” “Juices and smoothies do pack in a lot of vitamins and nutrients but it’s best to only have one small (150ml) portion of juice.”

3. The superhuman claims of superfoods

Earlier this year the Daily Mail dubbed black pudding the superfood of 2016. Seaweed, black beans, avocado oil, teff grains and birch water also made the list.Some parts of the food industry claim products dubbed “superfoods” provide all sorts of medical and health benefits. However, the NHS says there is no proper scientific backing behind this label.
Dr Phillips says: “All foods have ‘super’ aspects to them, but overall diet is more important than a single superfood.”“Keeping your diet balanced is what can give the best benefits to our health.”

4. Protein bars

Many gym goers and body builders chow down on protein bars before a workout, hoping to gain and regenerate muscle mass.
Dr Phillips says: “A sandwich containing lean meat, egg or peanut butter alongside a glass of milk can give you a good boost of protein and a range of other nutrients that you might not get in a protein bar.” “It’s not necessary to buy expensive meal replacements.”

5. Carrot cake is a healthier alternative to other cakes because it has a vegetable in it

We would all love this health myth to be true but unfortunately, that’s not the case. According to, the cream cheese frosting alone can add an additional 854 calories to your dessert.
Dr Phillips says: “A carrot is a carrot, so you will be getting the nutrients from the vegetables, but it definitely doesn’t count as one of your 5-a-day.” “Eating carrot cake without the cream cheese topping can drastically cut the fat and sugar, but it isn’t really a healthy alternative to raw veggies.”

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