Food myths come from all sorts of places. Some we've grown up with (like the one that says carrots help you to see in the dark), and others (like red wine being good for you), are based in fact. The media is awash with conflicting advice about what we should and shouldn't eat, but how do you know what's true? MSN Food investigates some ten classic food myths...
Carrots help you see in the dark
The greatest food myth of all must be the story we were all told as children: that carrots help you see in the dark. The way this myth came about actually dates back to World War II, when Britain's Air Ministry spread the rumour that they were feeding carrots to their pilots which enabled them to see Nazi bombers at night. In fact, they were using a new type of radar and wanted to keep it a secret.
On Bing: Carrot recipes
Too much salt is bad for you
There's no need to cut salt out of your diet entirely - just use it in moderation
Salt is the devil's food according to many nutritionists, who advise cutting it entirely out of your diet wherever possible. The truth? Virtually every process in your body requires sodium chloride - aka table salt. There are caveats - if you aren't preparing your food from scratch it's difficult to control your salt intake - but common sense must prevail. The NHS advises no more than 5g of salt per day. That's a teaspoon - plenty enough to sprinkle on your chips and have some left over.
On MSN Food: 10 herbs and spices every chef should use
Low fat foods are healthy foods
Low fat foods prey on the minds of the food-unaware, making dieters think that they're doing their body a favour. Fat-free products are often rammed with sugar to make up for the flavour that went walkies along with the fat content. It's rather painful to watch people picking up packet after packet of low-fat food in the supermarket as they wonder why they never lose weight.
On Bing: Low fat recipes
Celery contains negative calories
There is no food on the planet that takes more calories to burn than it produces. Celery doesn't contain many calories, but when you think that you burn about as many calories chewing as you do watching paint dry, you can see the problems with this so called 'food fact'. Think about it - if this was the case wouldn't serial dieters be piling away pounds and pounds of celery and watching the weight drop off?
On Bing: Celery recipes
Wooden chopping boards are less hygienic than plastic
This is a great one for the advocates of the shiny, plastic-covered kitchen. In experiments, E coli was placed on both wooden chopping boards and plastic and left overnight. On plastic, the bacteria multiplied like mad, on wood, their levels dropped. The reason: wood is naturally anti-bacterial. With knife cuts, wood remains just as good as new, while plastic gets worse and worse.
On Ciao: Chopping boards
Searing meat seals in its juices
On every television programme, cookbook or food magazine we're instructed to seal meat to lock in the juices. Untrue! You read it here first folks. Well, second - Harold McGee, the godfather of food science, wrote a fascinating article on his blog and discovered that there is no truth to this myth. Certainly, searing meat to brown it adds flavour, but juices are not sealed in by this method of caramelisation.
On Ciao: Frying pans
Honey is healthier than white sugar
Honey actually contains more calories per teaspoon than white sugar
You'll see a nation of people pouring honey over yogurt or porridge who wouldn't dream of adding refined white sugar to their breakfast. The truth: honey actually contains more calories per teaspoon than white sugar. The idea probably came from the fact that honey is sweeter than sugar and thus you need less of it; along this line of thinking you may want to start using fructose instead...
On Bing: Honey recipes
Red wine is good for you
Many a drinker and even a doctor will tell you that red wine is good for you. The opinion of the scientific community seems to fluctuate week by week. Red wine does contain antioxidants that help the blood to flow around the body. Another theory is that red wine drinkers tend to be more discerning about their diets. But - alcohol is a toxin and thus, even with the little good you're doing yourself, you're doing yourself damage too. Moderation is key - or get your antioxidants from somewhere else like blueberries - which help stop 'drinker's nose'.
On MSN Food: Oz Clarke's 10 best autumn red wines
On Ciao: Red wine
Healthy fats are good for you
Fish oils, the fat in avocados, olive oil - all examples of fats we are informed are good for us... in moderation. Yes - avocados for example contain HDL, the good cholesterol that helps reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol. Unfortunately, they are still fats and thus still fattening - virtually all fats contain around 100-120 calories per tablespoon. They are healthier than saturated fats - but at the end of the day, they're still fat.
On MSN Food: What to do with lesser-known meat cuts
On Bing: Low fat recipes
Fresh is better than frozen
There are some structural changes that occur when vegetables are frozen, potentially reducing fibres etc, but more often than not, vegetables are frozen at source almost immediately after picking - hence trapping in more vitamins and minerals, while those that are shipped to you fresh may take several days or more before hitting the shop floor and lose nutrients during this time.
On Ciao: Fridge/freezers
More on MSN Food:
- The UK's best American food and drink
- Buying British: why we should and how to do it
- Forage for free food - it's easy when you know how
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Fat does not make you fat. It is all the carbohydrates we shove down us that makes us fat.
Cut out Bread, Pasta, Rice, Potatoes etc less carbs less gluten. Eat healthy and for healthy you need fat!