Whether it’s an influencer telling you to drink water with lemon to lose weight or avoiding microwaves because they claim they deplete essential vitamins, nutrition myths plague social media.
Although there is endless advice about healthy eating on platforms like TikTok and Instagram, not all of it is true, nutritionists warn.
But with hundreds of conflicting opinions, it’s almost impossible to know what we should and shouldn’t eat.
So, MailOnline asked experts what they think are the most worrying myths about food spread on social media…
The belief that microwaves kill nutrients in food is not true, according to nutritionists who say they can actually help preserve nutrients.
Microwaves destroy nutrients
Social media is awash with claims that microwaves remove nutrients from food.
A TikTok by @cleanseclub, which has 258,000 followers, claims that microwaving food “kills 94 percent” of the “nutrients in the food.”
Another video on @cooperhealth’s platform, which has 3,000 followers, says that “it is better to use a stove or oven” since microwaves eliminate antioxidants.
But in reality, all cooking methods (such as steaming, roasting, or microwaving) cause some nutrients to break down, as heat can change their chemical structure.
This is especially true if a food is cooked for too long or at a very high temperature.
A TikTok from @cooperhealth, pictured left, says that “it’s better to use a stove or oven” and that microwaves cause antioxidants to decrease. Another TikTok from @cleanseclub, pictured right, who has 258.1k followers, claims that microwaving food “kills 94 percent” of the “nutrients in the food.”
Because they cook food faster, microwaves can preserve vitamins better than other cooking methods, according to Dr. Duane Mellor, a registered dietitian at Aston University in Birmingham.
This means that, in theory, vitamin C, potassium and magnesium will be better preserved in microwaved meals, he said. All three are vital for maintaining heart health, kidney function, and preserving bones and muscles.
According to one study, microwaving also better retains fiber, which is vital for gut health, compared to pressure cooking vegetables. study published in Food Chemistry in 2002.
Nightshades are dangerous
Browsing TikTok may make you believe that tomatoes, peppers, and potatoes are bad for you.
That’s because some wellness bloggers have been spreading the theory that nightshades (a family of about 2,500 plants) can cause inflammation and worsen arthritis.
The theory is that these vegetables contain lectins, a protein that binds cells, which have been linked to irritable bowel syndrome and arthritis, when consumed in large quantities.
A TikTok video by @iamkellytang, a nutritional advisor with 11.6K followers, suggests “limiting” or “avoiding” nightshades if you have arthritis.
It states that nightshades are known to cause inflammation in those with joint pain, arthritis and chronic illnesses.
Wellness bloggers say nightshades like tomatoes, eggplant and potatoes cause inflammation, but they may actually support joint health, experts say.
However, Dr. Mellor says that nightshades that are often eaten raw, such as tomatoes and peppers, only contain low levels of lectin.
And many protein-rich foods, like beans, are cooked before eating, which breaks down the lectin.
Meanwhile, nightshades are also high in vitamin C, which can keep joints healthy and not worsen arthritis, he says.
Fresh is better than frozen
Although frozen and canned fruits and vegetables last longer and are usually cheaper, many people avoid them because they believe that fresh is always better.
A video by self-confessed “fat loss expert” @alejandrofts, who has 55,500 followers, suggests that frozen foods are “bad” and “terrible for the body.”
But just because something is frozen doesn’t mean it’s worse than fresh, experts say.
A video by self-confessed ‘fat loss expert’ @alejandrofts, who has 55.5k followers, is an example of this belief, as he suggests that frozen foods are ‘bad’ and ‘terrible for the body’.
Research has shown that frozen vegetables, such as frozen peas, actually lose less vitamin C than vegetables stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
“Frozen fruits and vegetables may actually contain higher levels of nutrients,” says London-based nutritionist Kim Pearson.
This is because they are frozen at their peak (just after being picked) and undergo minimal processing before being frozen, meaning they retain many of their nutrients, Pearson explains.
By contrast, fresh produce may sit in the supermarket for days or weeks after being picked, meaning it may have lost more nutrients by the time it is consumed.
For example, levels of vitamin C, considered vital for maintaining healthy skin and bones, can be reduced by up to half in just a couple of days.
Research has shown that frozen vegetables, such as frozen peas, lose less vitamin C than peas stored at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
‘In one study, fresh peas were found to lose 15 percent of their vitamin C after seven days if stored in the refrigerator, and 60 percent if stored at room temperature.
“However, when they were frozen, they only lost 10 per cent after 12 months,” says Ms Pearson.