Myth: It is necessary to drink eight glasses of water a day.
Fact: The “eight glasses a day” rule shouldn’t be seen as a hard and steadfast rule but rather a general guideline. Don’t forget that you also get water from the food that you eat, and so the amount of ingested water will vary from meal to meal. As always, drink water when you’re thirsty and avoid replacing it with sugary soft drinks. A good indicator of being well-hydrated is clear light-yellow urine.
Myth: Monosodium glutamate, commonly known as MSG, is dangerous for you to consume and shouldn’t be eaten.
Fact: MSG is categorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Admin- istration as “gener- ally recognized as safe.” It is also considered safe to consume by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization. That being said, some people are hypersensitive to the flavor enhancer commonly found in Asian restaurants, and may develop headache and other ill feelings after a meal. However, the food additive and flavor enhancer isn’t a threat to the general public.
Myth: Eggs are bad for you due to the levels of cholesterol.
Fact: The amount of cholesterol that you eat has very little effect on cholesterol levels in your body. Cholesterol is necessary for your body to func- tion properly, and so your body produces it. A typical 150- pound man synthesizes about one gram of cholesterol a day, and average body lev- els of cholesterol lie around 35 grams. An average American con- sumes about 200 to 300 milligrams of cholesterol per day. However, cholesterol consumed by the body is poorly absorbed and in the case that one consumes too much, the body simply cuts back on the amount that it synthesizes. You should look at levels of trans fats and saturated fats in food, which are worse news than cholesterol. Eggs are a great source of nutrition with little trans and saturated fat. If the cholesterol is really a problem, you can always skip the yolk.
Myth: Eating at night will make you gain weight.
Fact: Weight gain and loss is simply a ratio of calories in to calories out. If you consume more calories than you burn, you’ll gain weight, and vice versa. The time at which the calories are consumed doesn’t make a difference. However, it’s easy to overeat at night due to boredom or stress, so it’s important to watch your consumption.
Myth: Organic produce is more nutritious than conventionally grown produce.
Fact: Organic simply refers to the fact that the food is grown without the use of pesticides and chemicals. The nutrients in the food are about the same, given that they aren’t grown in depleted fields. Therefore you can’t say that organic food is “more healthy,” just “less bad.”
Myth: Fresh fruit is healthier for you than dried fruit.
Fact: While there may be some small differences in nutritional value between fresh and dried fruit, the only real difference is the water content. Remember to get some water when eating dehydrated foods, and be careful because dried fruit is more calorically dense than fresh fruit due to the lack of water.
Myth: Bread goes stale because it dries out.
Fact: Bread actually gains weight as it goes stale. This is because it absorbs moisture from its surroundings which causes the starch in the bread to crystallize and harden. Keep your bread in a cool, dry place and definitely keep it out of your fridge.
Myth: Flipping your steaks and burgers more than once will cause them to dry out.
Fact: By all means, flip away! You’ll get a more even cook and better browning. However, be careful not to use any sharp utensils and pierce the meat, because then you’ll just get a waterfall of juices.
Myth: Alcohol added to food will burn off when cooked.
Fact: In order for all the alcohol added to a dish to be evaporated off, you would have to cook it for nearly three hours. Even lighting a high-proof alcohol, such as in a dish like baked Alaska or bananas Foster, only burns off 75 percent of the alcohol introduced.
Myth: Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs.
Fact: The only difference between brown eggs and white eggs is the fact that brown eggs have brown shells and white eggs have white shells.
Myth: Eating raw vegetables is healthier than eating cooked vegetables because cooking breaks down the natural plant enzymes.
Fact: Unless you are a plant, those plant enzymes aren’t go- ing to help you in any way. And in either case, they’re going to be broken down by your diges- tive system anyway. Gastric acid is some serious stuff.
Myth: Lobsters scream when they are boiled.
Fact: The sounds that come from your boiling lobster pot aren’t the lobsters screaming but steam escaping from the shells of the lobsters. In fact, lobsters have no means of vocalization so they physically can’t scream. Furthermore, a study done in 2005 by the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety concluded that “it is unlikely that [lobsters] can feel pain.”
A version of this article appeared on page 7 of January 23rd, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.