Hi there everyone! Today I want to focus on food myths. Growing up, I lived in a very liberal no BS household where superstitions and age old “wisdoms” weren’t a norm. (Unless of course we were watching the Red Sox. Then you could find me wearing the same shirt, socks, pants, and maybe even underwear as that October night in 2004…. too far?) In any event, this all got me thinking about food myths; which ones are true and which ones are bogus. I think that most of these myths come from old wives tales that aren’t usually based in fact but have somehow stood the test of time. As the years went on, and information became more readily accessible, these tales became “fact”, in my opinion at least.
To give you an example, have you ever been in a situation where the power goes out and you find yourself counting the number of hours since it’s been out to determine whether or not you need to throw your food away? Have you heard that eggs and butter can keep at room temperature in these situations? Or perhaps you had to wait 30 minutes after eating (or was it an hour?) before you could go swimming or you’d drown from the cramps? I know my grandmother always preached that one… and I can safely say from experience that that’s complete BS. I’ve never once gotten a cramp while swimming. Or drowned. Well I did almost drown once… but I didn’t know how to swim at the time and I hadn’t just eaten. And I was barely 3 years old. Different story for a different day.
So I decided to take some of the up and coming “trendy” foods and take a look at some of the myths that surround them. I chose “trendy” foods because there are roughly 5 billion food myths (that’s a fact) and someone could write entire books on the subject. Since I am by no means an expert on this, I took to Google and did a lot of research. I’ve summarized the answers below and then linked to numerous sources so you can decide for yourself whether or not you agree. For each myth I have stated whether it’s busted, or in fact true.
Myth #1: You must refrigerate all almond butter.
Verdict: False. You don’t need to refrigerate all almond butter. It depends on the manufacture and how they processed the butter. The more “natural” it is, or if you made it yourself – then yes you need to refrigerate. If you compare various almond butters you’ll note that some say “refrigerate after opening” and others don’t. For years I’ve searched the jars of those that don’t say anything about refrigeration and even questioned the company; “Oh well this jar is a fluke… they forgot to put it on the label.” Turns out, I was wrong. Listen to the jar. It knows where it came from. Long story short, unrefrigerated almond butter will eventually go bad and probably at a faster rate. But we’re talking months… not days. Essentially what happens is the separation and oxidation of the oils. But the good news is that you’ll know spoiled almond butter right away. It will have a sour taste and smell. Any sane person wouldn’t want to eat it.
Don’t believe me? (Because again, I’m not an expert… I just read a lot of articles.) Take a read for yourself:
Myth #2: You need to drink 64 ounces, or 8 glasses, of water everyday.
Verdict: False. Ok so I know water isn’t a trendy, up and coming food, but with Michelle Obama’s “drink more water” campaign recently, I figured it was appropriate to address. As someone who perpetually doesn’t drink “enough” water, I’ll say that too little water certainly can negatively impact you physically. But chugging water left and right just to reach 64 ounces does not accomplish anything. What these original numbers failed to mention is that we get some of that water intake from fruits and veggies. In my opinion, everyone needs a different level of water. But then again, maybe it’s just the placebo effect leading us to think we feel good or bad when we’ve drank “x” glasses of water a day.
(For an updated list of the above myths, also check out 32 Food Myths That You Need to Stop Believing Today)
Myth #3: Raw food is more nutritious than cooked food.
Verdict: Complicated. With the trend of the “raw diet” emerging lately many people are questioning if ditching their ovens and stoves (not literally) is beneficial. Unfortunately, the answer is not as simple as some may hope. It’s true that heating foods in any form will diminish the water soluble vitamins, like vitamin C, but cooking foods actually can add some other types of nutrients. Since “rawism” is an extreme form of veganism or vegetarianism, many fear that those on the diet will be undernourished due to the severe restrictions and lengthy prep time necessary. So is raw food more nutritious? In some ways (i.e. some vitamins and minerals), yes. However, a completely raw diet is one that should be approached with extreme caution. But if you’re debating eating some carrot sticks raw or throwing them in a stir fry, opt for raw!
Myth #4: Juicing/Juice diets is/are the best way to “cleanse” your body.
Verdict: False. That’s why we have a liver and two kidneys. Another one of the latest fads are these juice cleanses. Oftentimes I hear people use the reasoning that they are trying to cleanse their bodies of impurities and toxins. Unfortunately, the juice craze has taken hold and a lot of people think in order to improve their overall health, or “detox” after a drinking binge, they need to cleanse with juice. My main issue with this fad is that it usually entails people not consuming enough calories and nutrients. I have nothing against juices except personally I don’t prefer them, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think they’re great for others. Next time you want to “detox” try this: on Sunday, make a meal plan for the week. Plan out at least 2 meals a day (that can include leftovers) and then go shopping for all the fresh ingredients. Make sure you’re balancing the starchy foods and carbs with vegetables, fruit and protein. Make a concentrated effort to eat less processed food, and stay hydrated (see myth #2) and be physically active. I can bet you’ll have more energy, be less cranky, and feel better overall than if you do a juice cleanse for a week.
Don’t want to believe me? Don’t worry, I’m not offended! But take a read here before you ignore this:
Myth #5: Coconut water is better for you/hydrates more than regular water.
Verdict: False. To be fair, this in theory could be labeled as “complicated” as well. There is no scientific evidence that coconut water hydrates any better, or is any better for you overall, than boring, regular old water. However, and this part I’m adding on my own, just like sparkling waters or flavored waters, it’s better than no water at all. If you need to hydrate and you’re having a hard time or you don’t like the taste of normal water, then by all means go on with your coconut water! Many of the marketed benefits of coconut water are shared by the stuff that comes out of your facet. But no one really advertises water these days. Ok…except Michelle Obama perhaps. Does coconut water hydrate you, contain electrolytes and replenish your body after a workout? Yes. But so does regular water and some sports drinks (chocolate milk actually does all of this after a work out as well). So far I haven’t read any negatives to coconut water, so if you enjoy it, keep on drinking! But for someone like me who hasn’t really taken a liking to the strange flavor, I won’t be forcing myself to consume it anytime soon. (Note: I did mention in my most recent 5K race recap that I tried the Vita Coco Latte, which was fabulous! But I wasn’t drinking this with hydration in mind as I had already consumed a bottle of water. For me this drink took the nasty taste out of traditional coconut water.)
Hear it from the experts:
So there you go, some myths busted. Before I go, I want to explain that I’m not condoning never enjoying any of these items. Instead, I want to pass along some education and knowledge so that you can make the decision for yourself. It’s truly a miracle of technology and exploration that many of these foods are even available to the general public, so by all means enjoy them! But just like any work out regime, or “traditional” diet, there are positives, negatives and points to consider. I hope you enjoyed this informational post and got something out of it!
Now I want to hear from you: What are some food myths that you’d like to bust? Are there any food “myths” that you’ve found to be truthful?