We’ve Busted 7 of the Most Common Nutrition Myths
Do these common nutrition myths hold up against science. We put these misconceptions to the test, here's how they fared.

August 23, 2022


Talking about nutrition is like discussing finances, everyone has their own opinion. But unlike the world of wealth and investments, there’s a science behind the way your dietary choices affect your body. That’s why we’re here to put some of the most common nutrition myths under the microscope to give you the real deal on what you’re plating up.

Myth 1: Fruit juice is better than fizzy drinks

pouring juice

100 ml of 100% fruit juice blend amounts to 187kJ, while 100ml of Coke contains 180kJ. Coke contains less kilojoules than fruit juice.  “There’s a direct link between obesity and your intake of liquid kilojoules,” warns Megan Pentz-Kluyts, registered dietician. “People move from fizzy drinks to juice, thinking fruit juice isn’t as bad.” It is.

VERDICT: Certain softdrinks can be the less sugary option.

Myth 2: Artificial sweeteners are a better option than sugar

Artificial sweeteners are generally low in kilojoules, but are often derived from an unnatural source, explains Lila Bruk, dieitician in Joburg. “These products have not been around long enough to have been fully-tested over enough years to really know the long-term health effects of its use.”

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Artificial sweeteners also often cause carb cravings and can cause problems like bloating or diarrhoea. “Sweeteners don’t get you used to less sweet tastes, so your sugar cravings continue,” she adds.

VERDICT: Rather use a little sugar or honey, Bruk advises. “Or, even better, get used to using nothing at all.”

Myth 3: Popcorn is healthier than chips


A bag of salted crisps yielded 2 240kJ per 100g, while popcorn with real butter notches up 2 510kJ in the same amount. “Always check the label to make a better choice,” Pentz-Kluyts advises.

VERDICT: Chips contain less fat than popcorn.

Myth 4: Brown bread is better than white

“Brown bread is made from unbleached white flour, and has an equally high-GI and low-fibre content as white bread,” explains dietician Lila Bruk. Your best bet is a seed bread or pure rye bread – both have a low GI.”

VERDICT: Both are equal offenders.

Myth 5: Low-fat cream cheese is healthier than creamed cottage cheese

“Low-fat is not always lower in energy,” say Pentz-Kluyts. The proof is in the cheese: creamed cottage cheese has 775kJ per 100g with a reading of 15.8 total fat, while low-fat cream cheese measured 958kJ per 100g and a total fat reading of 19.8.

VERDICT: Creamed cottage cheese contains less fat than the low-fat option.

Myth 6: Energy drinks are a necessity after exercise

energy drink nutrition myths

Generally, one has enough carbohydrate or glycogen stores in the body to fuel up to 90 minutes of continuous exercise, Bruk says. You need to replenish your glycogen stores to continue to exercise at the same level. “Therefore, a sports or energy drink is actually only necessity after you’ve done at least 90 minutes of exercise.” Water is sufficient for anything less, she says.

VERDICT: Only after the 90-minute mark.

Myth 7: Butter is better than margarine

It depends on the margarine, says Bruk. Trans fats are unhealthy fats that form during processing and give margarine its solid form, but are very bad for heart health and cancer risk, she explains. Butter may be “natural”, but is also extremely high in saturated fat and detrimental to your cholesterol levels.

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Look for the tubs marked as “trans fat-free”.  This is generally lower in fat, much lower in saturated fat and free of trans fats in comparison to both hard brick margarines and butter.

VERDICT: Some margarines are more equal than others. Go for the trans fat-free tub.