Myths Busted

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Spinach is a good source of iron

FALSE

There are two types of iron in the food we eat; haem iron, which is found in animal food, and non-haem iron, which is found in plants. The body absorbs haem iron better than non-haem. While spinach does contain some iron, it also contains a substance that binds to iron; meaning it's not taken up by the body as well as the iron in red meat and other animal food. It's important to include a variety of both plant and animal foods to get the iron you need. Vitamin C can also help the body absorb more non-haem iron from foods.




Green leafy vegetables are a good source of calcium

FALSE

Green leafy vegetables absorb minerals from the soil, so they can contain small amounts of calcium, although this is much less than dairy products. For example 1 cup of spinach provides 30mg of calcium, where 1 glass of milk provides 300mg of calcium. You can see you would have to eat huge amounts of green leafy vegetables to get your daily calcium needs of 1000mg. So, while green leafy vegetables are important for folate, fibre and antioxidants, make sure you eat other foods for calcium. Foods like reduced-fat dairy, canned salmon with the bones, dry fish and sprats are rich sources of calcium.




People with diabetes need to avoid sugar

FALSE

There was a time when people with diabetes were told to avoid eating sugar, but science has since shown that this isn't necessary. All carbohydrates (e.g. bread, rice, starchy vegetables) are broken down to sugar which is absorbed into the blood stream. Rather than to avoid sugars, it is important that people with diabetes choose carbohydrates that are slowly broken down, and spread these carbohydrates evenly across the day to help control their blood sugar levels. The best choices are low glycemic index carbohydrates such as whole grains (e.g. brown rice, millets, etc.)




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