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Eight Food & Beverage Myths Debunked

Oct 07, 2011 08:41PM ● By Anonymous

Myth 1. Adding salt to water makes it boil faster.
The Truth. Continue to add salt to your pasta’s water because it adds flavor, not because it makes the water boil faster. In fact, salt raises the water’s boiling point so it makes the water longer to boil – though the amount of salt a home cooks adds will make the difference in time virtually unnoticeable.

Myth 2. You must drink eight glasses of water a day.
The Truth. Drinking plenty of water is healthy and important. However, the claim that you should drink eight glasses every 24-hour period is pretty arbitrary. Many people also don’t know what constitutes as “glass” of water (it refers to 8 ounces of H20, for the record). People tend to just use this benchmark as a goal or marking point to remind them to continually intake fluid. If you exercise frequently or are in a hot, dry climate, you should drink more water to replace the extra fluid you lose.

Myth 3. Washing mushrooms will make them tough.
The Truth: Wiping each individual mushroom with a damp paper towel takes a frustratingly long time. This mantra – don’t let water touch the mushrooms! – apparently originated in cooking school, but it’s not true. Wash away, my friends, wash away.

Myth 4. Carbohydrates cause excess weight gain.
The Truth. The best diet is one that’s varied and contains produce, lean meats, dairy, and yes, whole grains. Carbs don’t cause weight gain unless it contributes to excessive caloric intake, but the same can be said for protein or fat. So why do people lose weight when they eliminate carbohydrates from their diet? In many cases, it’s because they’re replacing those carbs with lower-calorie options such as vegetables. However, the increase in saturated fat intake on these high-protein diets is causing plenty of researchers to caution against making the switch.

Myth 5. Vegetarian protein isn’t “complete.”
The Truth. This is sort of a half-myth. A protein is made up of 20 amino acids, 11 of which our body can make on its own. We must consume the other nine from food. It’s true that basically all “complete” proteins – with the exception of soybeans, and therefore, tofu – come from animal sources, such as meat, fish, and dairy. Plant-based proteins, such as legumes, whole grains, and vegetables, do not contain all nine amino acids. However, as long as you eat foods containing all nine amino acids during the day, your body will combine them to form the necessary complete proteins.

Myth 6. Microwaving your food in plastic causes cancer.
The Truth. Someone told me this myth fairly recently, proving it still hasn’t been sufficiently debunked. However, the American Cancer Society itself (along with the Food and Drug Administration) says there is no evidence that plastic containers and microwaving can be linked to an increased risk of any type of cancer.

Myth 7. Raw produce is more nutritious than canned, frozen, or cooked.
The Truth. While the texture of canned and frozen produce might leave something to be desired, in many cases they are actually more nutritious than its fresh counterparts because processing it stops the deterioration process. Fresh produce, on the other hand, often travels for weeks before you get it home and actually eat it – and who knows how many nutrients its lost in that time period.

As for cooking produce, heat does destroy some nutrients. However, antioxidants and other compounds can actually be increased by cooking in some cases, such as the antioxidants in tomatoes when they are turned into ketchup.

Myth 8. Dropped food is safe for five seconds on the floor.
The Truth. Not that you’ll likely listen to us, but this is a myth through and through. The faster the food is picked up, the fewer bacteria it will acquire … but that doesn’t mean it’s safe. If you can wash it, do so. If not, you’re taking a risk.