Should you always listen to your mother when it comes to food?

Are carrots good for your eyesight?
How many times when you were growing up did you hear one of the following: “eating your crusts will make your hair grow curly”, “carrots will help you see in the dark”, “eating fish will give you brains”?

How many times when you were growing up did you hear one of the following: “eating your crusts will make your hair grow curly”, “carrots will help you see in the dark”, “eating fish will give you brains”?

Elmary Purtill, Community Dietitian

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It’s a struggle to see through confusing advice, old wives’ tales and health myths. That’s why we’re here to do it for you! Here, we look at 5 of the most popular health myths, and see if mother does in fact know best!

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Myth 1 - Mother says: An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
Truth: Yes and no. Eating an apple is a great way to get important nutrients into our diets; but its not the only way. Other fruits and vegetables are good too. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables means you get lots of important antioxidants that can lower your chance of heart disease and cancer. So, apples are good, but so are oranges, pears and bananas. Try to eat as many different coloured fruit and vegetables as you can everyday.

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Myth 2 - Mother says: Bananas are fattening.
False: They are low in fat. There is only half a gram of fat and roughly 95 calories in a banana. Not only that but they are packed with potassium, come in their own packaging, are clean and very handy as a snack!

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Myth 3 - Mother says: Eating carrots improves your eyesight. 
Truth (sort of!): Though carrots have a lot of vitamin A, important for healthy eyesight (vitamin A deficiency can in extreme cases cause blindness), an extra helping on your plate won’t give you X-ray vision.

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Myth 4 - Mother says: Eating bread crusts makes your hair go curly.
False: Generations have attempted to persuade their children that eating crusts will encourage a healthy-looking mop of curly hair. In fact there’s no medical evidence to suggest eating bread crusts makes your hair go curly, though there may be other health benefits that aren’t so well known. The browning of the crust may produce more healthy antioxidants, which in turn help stop the body absorbing harmful oxidising agents in the atmosphere such as ozone.

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Myth 5 - Mother says: Eating fish is good for your brains.
Truth: Fish has always been seen as a food important for good health - since ancient times fish was seen as a ‘brain food’. Research over the past few decades has confirmed the importance of fish in brain development and reproduction and showed the role of fish in a variety of other functions in our bodies too. There is strong evidence that fish plays a major role in protecting against heart disease and may also play a role in the prevention of other illnesses. Components of fish are also important in the development and maintenance of the eyes, skin and nervous system. As well as being a source of omega-3 fats, fish is also a good source of protein, iodine, zinc and selenium and is rich in vitamins A and D and some B vitamins.

So, it looks like it’s time to say thank-you this mother’s day, because for the most part, it seems mother does in fact know best!

For more information or for more information on diet and nutrition, please contact:

The Community Nutrition and Dietetic Service, HSE Dublin-Mid Leinster Tel: (044) 9353220 or email community.dietitians@hse.ie.