‘Nutrition’ has become a buzz word in recent years, but the reality is our knowledge on the subject is sadly lacking, it has emerged.
Researchers discovered a third of us are interested in nutrition and 28% go out of their way to avoid unhealthy foods.
But many struggle to identify basic vitamins, minerals and ingredients, despite claiming to be experts on the topic.
More than a quarter think mercury – a pollutant toxic to humans – is safe to eat.
When it comes to fats, 32% of people don’t know if monounsaturated fats – which can reduce cholesterol and are found in avocados – are good or bad for health.
One in 10 don’t know Omega-3 – which is believed to lower the risk of heart disease – is a fat found in fish, flax seeds and walnuts, with some even mistaking it for a watch brand.
29% confused choline, found in cauliflower and an essential nutrient, with chlorine, which has been used as a chemical weapon.
The research of 2,000 UK adults was commissioned to launch Know Your Nitrates (NO3), a campaign aimed at educating people on nitrates in drinking water.
It found 77% have no idea what a nitrate is or whether they are good or bad for you – in fact, they have been linked to potentially serious health issues including thyroid and circulatory problems.
And it’s a similar story for vitamins – of those who take vitamin C, 35% have no idea it’s essential for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues.
Six in 10 don’t think they’re getting enough vitamins in their diet but 67% wouldn’t be able to spot the signs they are vitamin deficient or not.
Dr Marilyn Glenville, nutritional health expert, said: “This survey shows that people don’t find it easy to identify vitamins, minerals and other ingredients.
”That is why it is so important to read the labels on your food and drinks.
”It is crucial to know what you are putting in your body as this affects your health both physically and mentally.”
The research also found maintaining health is our biggest priority when it comes to nutrition.
This was closely followed by upping energy levels and getting all of the vitamins and minerals needed to function properly.
Interestingly, 27% of those polled said they don’t read the ingredients list on food and drink purchases at all.
Nine in 10 aren’t aware nitrates in drinking water can have a negative impact on health, while five per cent wrongly believe nitrates in mineral water – pollutants and heavy oxidants which enter the water table from agricultural fertilisers and leaking septic tanks – are good for you.
Only 21% know nitrates can end up in mineral water from chemical fertilisers, and just nine per cent know nitrates are pollutants from the water table.
Dr Marilyn Glenville added: ”The lack of understanding about nitrates, particularly in water, shown in the survey was of concern.”