We’ve all seen the Facebook posts showing us the bumps on the bottoms of bell peppers. They claim that there are male and female bell peppers and tell us which we should eat raw and which we should use in cooking. And you may have bought it. You may have peeked under every pepper since to see if it has girl parts or boy parts. Stop it! And that’s not the only myth about food you should stop believing.
- Regarding bell peppers, it is the flower which is the sexual organ in plants. Bell peppers produce “perfect” flowers meaning they have both male and female parts. The fruit has no gender. Large bell peppers are usually about 3 inches wide and 4 inches long and have three to four lobes. Some even have more. And the accompanying claim about “girl” peppers being sweeter and “boy” peppers being best for cooking are, therefore, just silly.
- “Natural” sugars are better for you. We’ve all heard this one. Agave syrup, palm sugar, evaporated cane juice, coconut sugar, honey, molasses, and the list goes on and on. The fact is that all of them and the rest of the list behave, in your body, in a similar way “regular” sugar does. All sugars break down in the body as glucose and fructose both of which illicit an insulin response. It’s the degree of insulin response along with the amounts of glucose and fructose you consume that matter. And that all depends on the glycemic index of the sugar you consume.
- Fresh fruits and vegetables pack a greater nutritional punch that canned or frozen, right? Think again. Often the fruits and vegetables you pick up at your grocery store have been sitting in the store for a while. Add to that the delay between picking and shipping and the time it takes to ship those items and you may find fresh is less nutritious! Since canned and frozen items are either flash frozen or canned almost immediately after picking they are often the best bet for the highest nutrition. Unless you’re getting all your fruits and vegetables right from your land don’t be too quick to turn your back on the frozen and canned stuff.
- Raw fruits and vegetables are better for you than cooked. The argument here is that cooking destroys the enzymes in those foods and that makes them less nutritious. Except those enzymes are present in the plant for the benefit of the plant not the creatures that eat those plants. Cooking does break down the enzymes but, unless you’re a cabbage, it’s not going to matter to you. The only vegetable decidedly better for you raw is broccoli which contains sulforaphane. This substance fights against breast cancer, and cancer from UV exposure, and studies are being done to determine its role in fighting prostate cancer. Eating fruits and vegetables either raw or cooked is good for you. So go eat some. I’ll wait.
- Our bodies crave nutrients we’re lacking. That’s been the theory of many an old diet. But if that were true, most of us would have an insatiable, almost vampire-like craving for…blood? No, not blood. We’d crave vegetables and fruits. Instead we crave comfort foods like cookies, ice cream, and other very palatable foods. These cravings are psychological. And while they don’t help us eat better they may tell us when we need to examine our feelings instead of the cookie jar.
- Here’s another one we’ve all been raised on. Eating fat makes you fat. Except it doesn’t. Oh, sure, if you eat a large amount of fat it would. But you’d have to eat a lot of it. And fat is satiating. That means you get full faster. So you’d have to eat until you were bursting to offset the good things fat does. Did you know that fat is an essential macronutrient just like protein and carbohydrates? You’d die without fat in your diet. And since many vitamins and minerals are fat soluble you need fat in order to use those vitamins and minerals. Some fats that are really good for you are: Grass-fed butter, grass-fed ghee (clarified butter), extra virgin olive oil, organic virgin coconut oil, and the fats found in fatty fish, nuts and seeds, and fruits like avocado and coconut. Even the fat from healthy meat is good for you!
- Coffee is bad for you. Even if this one were true I doubt we devoted coffee fans would give it up. But it isn’t. Coffee, unless you drink those caramel mocha frappe chino things is good for you. I’m talking about black coffee. Drinking 3 – 4 cups 8 ounce cups a day gives you lots of health benefits. Coffee is the highest source of antioxidants in the diets of the western world. It beats fruits and vegetables in Western diets! And several massive scientific studies have shown that those who drink the most coffee live the longest and have the fewest incidences of Alzheimer’s Disease and diabetes! So tomorrow when you get up and stumble to the kitchen for that first cup of joe remind yourself it’s for your own good!
- Salt is bad. We’ve been told since the 1970’s that consuming salt was very, very bad for us. And excessive sodium is bad. But, like fat, we can’t survive without it in our diets. . Salt is important for functions in cellular metabolism. What’s bad for us is the astronomical amount of sodium in processed foods. The salt we shake on our food is a tiny fraction of the amount we can eat and be healthy. Of course if you have hypertension or high blood pressure lowering all salt intake is important. The key to getting enough salt but not too much is to avoid processed foods and season your healthy, homemade meals with salt. You can also try sea salt flakes or Himalayan pink salt.
- Calories consumed at night are more fattening than those consumed during the daylight hours. This is one I’ve heard all my life. I’m sure you’ve had it ingrained in your brain as well. But think about it. If ice cream has 120 calories at noon, does it suddenly jump to 347 calories after the sun goes down? Sure, we know they mean that we shouldn’t eat high calorie foods right before we stop moving for the night but that’s not what they say. And who the heck is “they” anyway and why do we listen to them…they…whatever? A calorie is a calorie so you’re going to get fat if you eat nothing but celery at night and all chocolate all day.
- You must drink 8 full 8 ounce glasses of water a day. Apparently the end of that statement is supposed to make you hear “…or you’ll die!” It’s simply not true. The amount of hydration you need depends on a number of factors. Have you been active or in the heat? Have you eaten any fruits or vegetables high in water-content? Have you consumed beverages like tea or coffee? Or any other beverages. Yes, water is better for you than say, soda pop, but it’s really about staying hydrated. Dehydration = death. Not drinking an arbitrarily assigned number of ounces of water per day = not death.
These are just 10 of the food myths we’ve all heard and sometimes believed. So stop believing everything you hear or see especially if it’s a meme.