We look at the science to separate the food facts from the fiction so you can develop healthier eating habits and finally see the real food myths busted.

Carbs after 6pm make you fat

Yes, energy expenditure does decrease 35% during early-stage sleep. It then increases significantly during deeper REM sleep. This is to the extent that your RMR is the same at night as it is in the day, according to the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition. What’s more, if you exercise you significantly increase your RMR during sleep. This prompts your body to burn more fat as it recovers. A high-carb dinner can help reduce body fat by sending you to sleep faster.  Carbs increase blood concentrations of the amino acid tryptophan, which makes you feel drowsy. People who ate a high-carb meal in the four hours before bed fell asleep faster than those who weren’t given carbs, found a University of Sydney study.

High protein diets damage your kidneys

Don’t believe it. The study that linked high protein intake to organ damage was done on people with pre-existing kidney disorders. If you’re in good health a high-protein diet can help weight loss without any side effects, according to the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. The World Health Organisation last year classified red meat as a Group 2 carcinogen. It also added processed red meat in Group 1, advising people to limit daily intake of both to no more than 70g. However, it matters what meat you eat. Organic and grass-reared red meat is very different nutritionally to that which has been factory farmed or heavily processed. 

Butter is bad for your health

Support for butter is spreading. Global sales were up 7% in the five years to 2014. Sales of non-dairy spreads such as margarine fell 6%, according to research firm Kantar Worldpanel. That’s because the studies behind the claim it is bad for you have been discredited.  A meta-analysis of 72 studies of 600,000 people from 17 countries found total saturated fat consumption had no relationship to heart disease risk. Research in the British Medical Journalfound death rates among men with heart disease actually increased when they ditched saturated fat for polyunsaturated fat found in margarine. Butter is also a source of vitamins A, D, E and K, as well as selenium, a powerful antioxidant that plays a big role in an efficient metabolism. Time to dust off that butter dish.

Cook vegetables completely

Still boiling your broccoli? Step away from the saucepan. Researchers from Zhejiang University in China found steaming kept intact the most number of nutrients. These included soluble fibre, vitamin C and glucosinolate, the compound thought to be behind its cancer-fighting properties. Microwaving was next best, with stir-frying and boiling resulting in the greatest nutrient loss. This supports Harvard research that found the best cooking method for retaining nutrients is one that cooks quickly. Eat your capsicum raw, though. A medium one contains around 150% of your daily vitamin C needs. Cooking capsicum above 190° irreparably damages the antioxidant, according to the US National Institutes of Health.