Busted: Five wildly-popular myths about food that we all thought were true

Let’s put some popular food myths on those weighing scales every health-conscious person so loves and see if they stand the test of science.

Myupchar December 19, 2019 10:00:37 IST
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Busted: Five wildly-popular myths about food that we all thought were true

An apple a day keeps the doctor away, chocolates can work wonders for your libido, those who eat fish are brainier than those who don’t, and don’t eat eggs if you have cholesterol issues.

We've all heard these and other food myths, and we know from experience the power and sway they hold over every culture. But are any of these wildly popular food myths backed by actual science? Or are we simply doing our share to increase the potency of myths that need to be busted as soon as possible for everyone’s benefit?

Busted Five wildlypopular myths about food that we all thought were true

Representational image. Getty images

Let’s put some popular food myths on those weighing scales every health-conscious person so loves and see if they stand the test of science.

1. Drinking milk makes your bones healthy:

Making kids finish a tall glass of milk without throwing a tantrum is a tough task for every parent, but one they just have to accomplish because drinking milk is supposed to be the best way to strengthen bones. But is that even true?

Several studies have shown that milk is not as essential for bones as we believe it to be. According to a 12-year-long research conducted by Harvard University, higher consumption of milk makes no difference to bone health in adult women. Harvard researchers followed 77,761 female nurses aged 34 to 59 years and found no significant difference in the number of arm or hip fractures between those who drank only one glass of milk a week and those who drank more than one glass of milk. The same team conducted a similar study with 330,000 male health professionals and came to the same conclusion. In fact, a 2010 study published in the journal Nutrition in Clinical Practice concluded that milk can actually be the reason behind calcium-loss in bones, doing the opposite of what it promises to do. 

2. Eating carrots can improve your eyesight:

No doubt, carrots are a great source of vitamin A and are good for the eyes. But they can’t improve farsightedness, nearsightedness or night vision. Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, and this nutrient does play a vital role in the development and proper functioning of the eyes. But carrots are not the only source of this nutrient. Sweet potatoes, fresh fruits and green leafy vegetables will also do the trick. What’s more, these other options also have high quantities of vitamins C and E, which also play a role in protecting the eyes against cataracts and age-related degeneration.

3. Organic foods are better than conventionally grown foods:

Organic foods tend to be heavier on the pockets. For people who can afford to pay extra for everything from cauliflowers to avocados and rice, organic foods offer pesticide-free options (do check the labels properly, unless you're growing the vegetables yourself, in which case you'd know if you used any bug-spray or chemical fertilizer).

However, studies have shown that spending those extra rupees on organic foods will do little good.

Researchers from Stanford University conducted the most comprehensive meta-analysis of 237 studies which were conducted to observe the difference in nutrition between organic diets and conventionally grown foods. This study compared the bacterial and pesticide contamination in both types of food items and deduced that organic foods - while definitely reducing pesticide exposure - nutritionally differed very little from conventionally grown food items.

4. Carbs make you fat: 

All carbs are not the same. While it's true that simple sugars get digested quickly and can cause a sudden rise and drop in blood sugar levels, there are some carbohydrate-rich foods that keep you full for longer. Case in point: potatoes.

Research has also shown that rice is actually good for the body: because it is easy to digest, it helps the body absorb nutrients from the rice as well as any daal, chicken or vegetables we eat with it.

So while it's true that eating (and drinking) some carbs will lead to weight gain, it is unproductive to associate all carbs with unhealthy weight gain.

In fact, a study published in BMJ Open, a peer-reviewed journal, in 2018 revealed that a link between high or low carbohydrate intake and obesity could not be made despite intensive research. So your takeaway should be that eating anything in moderation will not lead to weight gain, but overeating consistently will - and this applies to every food, not just carbs.

5. Everyone should drink at least eight glasses of water in a day:

This is the most famous food myth which actually has no scientific evidence backing it. The myth originated from advice published by the National Research Council’s Food And Nutrition Board in 1945 which said that an individual needs 1ml of water per calorie of food. This implies that one will need 2000 ml water (approximately eight glasses) if one consumes 2000 calories in a day. The Food and Nutrition Board further suggested that most of this quantity is contained in prepared food. However, with time people ignored the latter part and the eight glasses per day became a common recommendation.

For more information, please read our section on Healthy Foods.

Health articles in Firstpost are written by myUpchar.com, India’s first and biggest resource for verified medical information. At myUpchar, researchers and journalists work with doctors to bring you information on all things health.

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