Rachel Quilligan looks for the facts behind the food fictions.

The cacophony of voices preaching the benefits of so-called miracle foods can be overwhelming, but do any of the claims hold water? Find out the facts …

A glass of red wine every night is good for your heart

While research has shown the benefits of resveratrol, an antioxidant found in red wine, it turns out that perhaps it isn’t as good for your heart as is claimed. A new study conducted in the Chianti wine-making region of Italy has indicated no correlation with consumption of red wine and a lowered risk of cancer or cardiovascular disease. Additionally, over-consumption cancels out any possible benefits and is actually a detriment to health—which means no polishing off the bottle in the name of ‘good heart health’.

Carrots give you better night vision

While carrots do contain vitamins that contribute to overall eye health, they won’t provide enhanced night vision. That myth comes from a story published by the British Royal Air Force during World War II claiming that fighter pilot John “Cat’s Eyes” Cunningham’s night-flying prowess was due to a steady diet of carrots. The article was merely propaganda to conceal that radar was being used in night attacks.

Take Vitamin C to ward off a cold

Multiple studies have shown that upping the dosage of Vitamin C doesn’t help with avoiding a cold, and has a very minimal effect on reducing the severity and duration. What can help ward off a cold is garlic, with a study finding that a daily garlic supplement reduced frequency of colds by 63 per cent, with the average duration of symptoms also reduced by 70 per cent. Those close-by might not thank you for it, but at least you won’t be sick.

Blueberries can ward off dementia

These unassuming little berries can actually help to protect the brain from oxidative stress and may even reduce the effects of conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, so load up with at least one cup a day—fresh, frozen or freeze-dried.

Chocolate releases endorphins that improve mood

While emotionally comforting, popular claims that chocolate can affect mood state have been shown to be false. Professor Gordon Parker, executive director of the Black Dog Institute in Sydney, says research has concluded that any mood benefits from chocolate consumption are short-lived. “When consumed as a comfort eating or emotional eating strategy, [chocolate] is more likely to be associated with prolongation rather than cessation of a depressed mood,” he says.

Green tea fights cancer

While it’s been suggested green tea could reduce tumour growth and have a positive impact on a variety of different types of cancers, the research is still inconclusive, with flawed studies often the basis for such claims. There have also been concerns about soil contamination affecting the lead content of tea grown in China. Proceed with caution.