Here’s the thing about food. It’s essential, not magic.
There is no one food that’s going to make you healthier, and there is no one food that causes you to be less healthy.
Here is the science behind some of the most common food myths out there on the internet.
Myth: Microwaves zap the nutrients out of your food
You might be surprised to learn that microwaving your food is one of the best cooking methods when it comes to preserving nutrients. It just goes to show you cannot trust that everyone making claims on the internet has the scientific research to back them up.
Myth: Eggs are bad for your heart
Eggs aren’t as harmful to our cholesterol levels as we have come to believe. Actually, when you eat food containing cholesterol, your body compensates by making less cholesterol. Experts say if you eat an egg or two every day, it’s not going to hurt you.
Myth: Carbs make you fat
People are obsessed with low-carb diets because they believe eating carbs makes you fat. Carbohydrates are a form of energy and just another nutrient your body converts to glucose when you eat it. If you’re worried about eating too much sugar, good luck: in the end, everything you eat turns into sugar in a form your body uses to perform its daily functions.
Myth: Radiation from microwaves puts dangerous compounds in your food
Seriously, what does the internet have against microwaves? The short rebuttal: no. The kind of radiation given off by microwaves is not the kind of radiation that will harm you. And as mentioned above, microwaving your food is actually the best thing you can do for its nutritional value.
Myth: You can cleanse toxins from your body
Your body, to keep itself alive, has natural processes that remove toxins from your body as needed. You don’t need to stop eating a certain kind of food or drink a lot of water to make that happen. Your biology has you covered. Really. You cannot flush chemicals out of you. Everything is chemicals.
Myth: Vitamin C prevents colds
Research has yet to point to any proof that consuming vitamin C will keep you from getting a cold. It will probably make the cold you already have not last quite as long, but it’s not going to keep you from getting one. Washing your hands probably will, though.
Myth: A gluten-free diet is good for you even when you don’t need it
Those who need to be on gluten-free diets have something called Celiac disease, which means they are legitimately allergic to gluten (sort of). If you don’t have Celiac disease and you think going gluten-free is a good idea, think again: it can actually really hurt you.
Myth: Eating fat makes you fat
Actually, eating fat gives you energy, just like any other major nutrient out there. You might start to have a problem if you’re overeating fatty foods (or any kind of food for that matter), but cutting out fat from your diet won’t make you lose weight.
Myth: Nuts are bad for you
Nuts contain protein, which is essential for a healthy diet. The reason you don’t need to worry about nuts is that they contain more beneficial nutrients than ones you need to watch more closely. Too much of anything isn’t good for you. Take a handful and you’ll be fine. Don’t eat the whole container at once.
Myth: If it’s labeled “natural,” it’s healthy
The word “natural” on a food label does not say anything about how healthy a food is. Foods that are labeled as natural go through minimal amounts of processing, which means that even if they don’t contain any fake ingredients or colors, it still goes through processing. And the USDA isn’t too specific about what that means. Organic is your healthier option here.
Myth: You need to drink exactly eight glasses of water every day
How much water you need to drink every day actually depends on a lot of different factors. There is no magic amount of water that’s going to cure all your diseases or make you lose weight. You need to listen to your body. When you’re thirsty, drink some water. When you’re not thirsty anymore, don’t drink any more water. It’s that simple.
Myth: Never eat after 7 p.m.
Time of day has nothing to do with how your body absorbs and uses nutrients. Eating certain foods later in the day might make it harder for some people to fall asleep or get a good night’s rest, but the calories you dump into your body in the morning are the exact same calories you dump into it at night.
Myth: Celery has “negative” calories
Celery has fewer than 10 calories per serving, which does make them great choices for healthy snacks (especially if you pair them with your favorite dip or spread). They are extremely low in calories, but you don’t burn calories by eating a stick of celery.
Myth: Raw vegetables are more nutritious than cooked vegetables
In reality, certain vegetables have more of certain kinds of nutrients when their cooked as opposed to when you eat them raw. It all depends on how you cook them. Methods like boiling do cause vegetables to lose some of their water-soluble vitamins, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they are any less nutritious overall.
Myth: Margarine is healthier than butter
When comparing margarine and butter, margarine is usually considered healthier because it is made from vegetable oils. Most margarine still contains trans fat, though, which actually lowers the good kind of cholesterol in your body. Your best bet would be to limit whichever spread you choose.
If you’re ever unsure of whether something related to food is true or not, look up sources that are backed by scientific evidence, or information that comes from professional organizations. Hate to break it to you, but your favorite food blogger, unless she’s a licensed nutrition professional, is probably wrong.
Featured photo credit: Michael Stern via flickr.com