Food Myths Busted!

Wasn’t it mom who used to say, “Don’t believe everything you read?” Once again, she was right. Over the years, myths and misconceptions have arisen about certain foods and scary diseases. To make matters worse, false and undeserved claims often end up tainting the reputations of favorite foods, some of which turn out to be good for you. Some conventional food wisdom is, well, not so wise, and other eating advice can be confusing. Here, some big untruths, plus how to make healthier choices.

  1. Coffee causes cancer.

    Coffee has been linked to cancer on several occasions over the past generation or so. Major studies examining the risk of cancers among coffee drinkers came up empty. In some cases, just the opposite appeared to be true. For instance, a review of 17 studies conducted from 1990 to 2003 found a 24 percent reduced risk of colon cancer among people who regularly sipped coffee and tea. Studies have also shown in recent years that drinking coffee appears to offer some protection against other conditions, including Parkinson’s disease and diabetes.

    Food Myths

    Coffee

  2. Eggs are bad for your heart.

    For years, nutrition experts cautioned that eggs were unhealthy. After all, those gifts from the henhouse are one of the richest sources of cholesterol in the human diet. Since cholesterol plugs up arteries, eggs must raise the risk of heart attacks and strokes, right? Wrong! It turns out that only about 25 percent of the cholesterol in your blood comes from food. The other 75 percent is manufactured by the liver, which produces lots of cholesterol when you eat cheeseburgers and other sources of saturated fat—something eggs are low in. Eggs are also filled with useful nutrients that may offset any damage done by their cholesterol content, including unsaturated fat, folate and other B vitamins, and minerals.

    Food Myths

    Eggs

  3. Fat-free and low-fat foods are always healthier than full-fat varieties.

    When it comes to dairy products and some other foods, such as meat, you can reliably adopt a simple rule: The less fat, the better. But that’s not always the case with other foods. Take salad dressing. If you’re trying to lose weight, switching from an oil-based dressing to a low-fat or fat-free dressing may make sense. But sparing yourself 100 calories or so (per 2 tablespoons) comes at a cost. Salad dressings made with healthy monounsaturated fats, such as olive or canola oil, may help prevent heart disease and other conditions. What’s more, a recent study shows that you may be missing out on important disease protection by going oil-free. That’s because without some fat in the meal, your digestive tract won’t absorb many of the nutrients in a salad. There’s no need to drown your greens in oil, however; 1 or 2 tablespoons will get the job done.

    Food Myths

    Low Fat Cereal

  4. Raw fruits and vegetables are more nutritious than cooked ones.

    The theory that cooking foods makes them less nutritious is a bit half-baked. Raw food advocates note that heat destroys enzymes in foods that make them more easily digested. While that’s true, cooking also breaks down fiber, making it easier for your body to process. Subsisting primarily on raw fruit and vegetables could even backfire if your goal is to get healthier. Scientists have discovered in recent years that cooking actually boosts levels of important compounds in some fruits and vegetables. For instance, ketchup contains five to six times more of the antioxidant lycopene than raw tomatoes do, making it much more useful against diseases such as prostate cancer.

    Food Myths

    Frozen Fruit

  5. Fresh always beats frozen.

    The truth is that frozen produce can be as nutritious as fresh because it’s flash-frozen shortly after picking, which means it retains more nutrients than if it has to travel, unfrozen, for days before being sold. Plus, frozen often costs less. If you prefer fresh, try to buy local.

    Food Myths

    Cooked Vegetables

    After busting those myths, it’s time for you to hear and learn more about your ingredients from a professional’s point of view. At ChefXchange, we’re proud to have professional food critics like Chef Joseph and Chef Rabih, who are glad to host your private events, or even offer you cooking classes.