These days, misinformation about food and nutrition spreads like wildfire on social media and other online publications. While some of these hearsays are just downright silly and pretty much harmless, others can impose health risks. Now more than ever, it’s become very important to counter these myths with science. Make better nutritional decisions by equipping yourself with proper knowledge on food.
Here are some common food myths and the truths to debunk them:
1. Eggs are bad for the heart because it increases cholesterol levels.
For so long, eggs had the reputation of raising cholesterol levels, hence, being bad for the heart and putting you at risk for heart diseases. However, it has actually been proven that daily consumption of eggs can help reduce risks of heart problems since they are rich in high quality protein, zinc, iron, antioxidants, and omega-3 fatty acids.
Cholesterol is actually created saturated fats and trans fats triggering the liver. This means that dietary cholesterol has no effect on blood cholesterol levels. It is important to know, however, that eggs contain some saturated fat — about 1.6 grams for one large egg. Adding one to two eggs on your daily diet should not have any compelling negative effects on your health. Instead, it could even boost your daily nutrition with muscle and heart nutrients.
2. White meat is better for your health compared to dark meat.
Another popular food myth is that white meat is supposedly healthier than dark meat. The reason behind chicken legs and turkey being darker is a nutrient called myoglobin. This nutrient helps the muscle store oxygen for prolonged activity. Flightless birds tend to use their legs heavily for locomotion, so muscles in this area tend to have higher amount of myoglobin making its meat slightly darker than breast meat.
Looking at the difference in nutritional value, dark meat actually contains more minerals and nutrients such as iron and zinc compared to white meat. It may contain a little more calories (about 30 calories higher per serving) compared to white meat, but the difference is significantly small for the nutrients available in dark meat.
3. Eight glasses of water should be your minimum liquid intake per day.
This “rule” has been around for so long, most people still actually take this by heart. This standard may have cultivated to encourage people to drink plenty of water on a daily basis. While it is true that staying hydrated is important, the amount of fluids a person should consume per day is not universal. The proper amount of water intake is based on every individual, not a standard number that applies to everyone.
Factors that affect a person’s daily fluid intake requirement includes age, location, lifestyle, and health. Some of these fluids can also come from the food you eat and other beverages, not just water alone.
4. Brown eggs are healthier than typical white eggs.
This myth is downright natural marketing. The brown color is often associated with being organic, wholesome, or healthy, letting consumers assume that brown eggs came from free-range or organic chickens. The truth is, the color of the eggs has nothing to do with their nutritional value.
The color actually differs based on the breed of chicken that laid them. White eggs usually come from Single Comb White Leghorn hens, while brown eggs are produced by Rhode Island Red, New Hampshire, and Plymouth Rock hens. The reason why brown eggs are pricier is because the chicken breeds who lay them are larger in physique and eat more, hence, a more costly production cost.
5. Consuming less carbs means you are healthier.
People have developed a fear of carbohydrate consumption as this has become associated to weight gain. When in fact, carbohydrates are absolutely essential for the body and there is no reason to avoid it. It is true, however, that some carbs are better for you than others.
Carbohydrates are essential for our bodies to function, most especially if you have an active lifestyle. You just have to make sure you choose complex carbs as these have more vitamins, minerals, and fiber than simple carbs. Select foods made of whole grains and avoid carbs with high glycemic index as these causes spike on your blood sugar.
6. Microwaves kill the nutrients in food.
A lot of people have themselves believe the idea that tossing food in the microwave oven causes it to decrease in nutritional value. There is absolutely no truth to this one. If we are being real, any cooking method can reduce vitamin and nutrient content of food.
As a matter of fact, microwaving is actually one of the most ideal ways in preparing a meal as it uses less heat and time, giving your food a better chance of retaining its nutritional content. Just be mindful of the material of your container for microwaving as some plastics may permeate chemical compounds into your food. Always check if your container is microwave-safe before using.
7. Brown sugar is a healthier for you than white sugar.
Similar to the brown egg situation, we are filing this under “food myths that propagated from natural marketing”. Sure, brown rice is healthier than white rice. Whole wheat bread is better than white bread. However, this formula does not apply to sugar.
They may taste a bit different, and they may serve different purposes in baking, but brown sugar has practically the same nutritional value as white sugar. No matter its color or form, sugar is sugar. Its consumption will heighten your blood sugar levels that could increase the risk of diabetes or obesity.
8. Frozen fruits are not as good for your body as fresh fruits.
There may be a tangible difference in taste between fresh and frozen fruits, but the gap between its nutritional content is not that much significant. There certainly is more nutrients on fresh fruits, but this “freshness” actually only lasts for a short period.
Fruits go on a long journey before they reach your table. They would spend days in transit or storage even before reaching the store where you bought it. During this period, the fruits could release their natural enzymes causing them to lose some of its nutritional value. In short, store-bought “fresh” fruits don’t necessarily have untouched amount of nutrients. And the frozen ones could be just as good for your body.
10. It’s healthy to eliminate gluten in your diet.
Another trend that popped up recently is this thing called “gluten-free diet”. People have started to believe that gluten will make them sick, and that avoiding it in your diet will give you more energy.
Gluten will surely make you sick, if you have celiac disease. Celiac disease or gluten-sensitive enteropathy is a serious genetic disorder where a person suffers small intestine damage from consumption of gluten. Studies show that this digestive condition is present in about 1% of the world population.
If you do not belong to this 1%, avoiding gluten does not benefit you but at all. As a matter of fact, since gluten is present in wheat, you may miss opportunities to load up in fiber just because you are avoiding a substance that will not harm you in any way.