Food myths are everywhere, and chances are you’ve heard a handful this week alone. Whether it’s your grandmother telling you to drink a glass of seawater every morning because Mrs. Jones did that and lived to be 113, or some ‘doctor’ with a degree from Infomercial University, Inc. shouting at you about the latest miracle ingredient – everybody’s got an opinion about food.
Whispered on the wind and in the cereal aisle, these myths can be mighty hard to ignore. We all want to eat well, but how do we separate fact from fiction and medicine from myth? We’ve searched for some of the most common food myths to help you out next time someone nosy (or your mother) has something to say about your lunch.
You know how anybody can call themselves a photographer on social media? The process of calling something a “superfood” is similarly unregulated, and while there is some science to support certain so-called superfood benefits, there’s also a lot of marketing. There’s nothing stopping companies from sprinkling quinoa over a sodium-packed microwave dinner and plastering the packet with “SUPERFOOD.”
The idea that eggs are a shortcut to a heart attack is as old as fad diets themselves, and about as helpful. CSIRO research found not only that eggs are okay to eat daily, but that egg consumption is often linked to better dietary habits overall (probably because increased protein from eggs means fewer hunger pangs, and in turn, less snacking.) The Heart Foundation agrees: they reckon you’re safe to eat six or seven eggs per week. Bad news if you’re a bodybuilder who cracks ten into your protein shake, but good news for the rest of us mortals.
When we say we’re trying to avoid “carbs,” we usually mean bread; just ask Scott Pilgrim. But there’s a big difference between supermarket white bread and a gut-loving whole-grain sourdough loaf. American Dietary Guidelines—which are based on science, not scare campaigns—still recommend we eat whole-grain or high-fiber grain-based foods daily, so a healthy slice or two of bread fits the bill.
Here’s another wacky claim that has emerged from trendy food “influencers,” a myth that makes people run screaming from the fruit salad bowl a bit like that cat who’s scared of bananas. While there are certain fruit products that are heavy on calories (such as processed fruit juice or sweetened dried fruit), fresh fruit is another story. In fact, a study of 4908 Australian adults published in the British Journal of Nutrition found that those who regularly ate fresh fruit were in fact 10 percent less likely to be obese. Fresh fruit is high in fiber, potassium and vitamins, so dig in.
Detecting a theme here? Once again, it all depends on the type of chocolate you’re eating. If you’re laying into a family-sized block of caramel-filled milk chocolate every night, maybe not so much, but good quality chocolate (as well as cacao powder and nibs, and fair trade cocoa) can be more than just a sweet treat. Harvard Medical School explains that the flavanols in dark chocolate can have heart-health benefits, but it’s the sugar and milk solids added to flavorless cocoa butter that causes problems. The higher the percentage of cacao (generally, 60% or more), the better.
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