An apple a day keeps the doctor away is a fun saying. And it has some elements of truth in it. Apples are a good source of vitamin C, moisture, and fiber. But they are not a cure-all. Sadly, and this won’t shock you, there are people who take the adage literally. They become completely flabbergasted when they fall ill. Then they stress more than they should and get sicker still. Quite honestly, unless you’re a pirate trying to avoid scurvy, there’s no additional benefit to eating an apple over any other fruit. And there’s no fruit that prevents all diseases.
First, in honor of Thanksgiving, let’s kill one food myth right off the bat; Tryptophan makes people sleepy. No, it doesn’t. Yes, turkey meat contains tryptophan but so does cheddar cheese, and in higher amounts. The reason people get sleepy on Thanksgiving is that they tend to eat four or five times their daily caloric requirements in one meal. The human body tends to shut down when it’s whelmed.
By the way, whelmed and overwhelmed mean the same thing. And you thought you weren’t going to learn anything today.
Now, let’s look at one of my favorite scams; organic food. I’ll let Dave Mosher and Jennifer Welsh, from Business Insider, handle this one. By the way, make sure to click the link. They have over a hundred myths that they bust just for us.
Organic food isn’t free of pesticides and it isn’t necessarily better for you.
Farmers who grow organic produce are permitted to use chemicals that are naturally derived — and in some cases are actually worse for the environment than their synthetic counterparts. However, pesticide levels on both organic and non-organic foods are so low that they aren’t of concern for consumption, according to the USDA.
Eating organic food also doesn’t come with any nutritional benefits over non-organic food, according to a review of 98,727 potentially relevant studies.
Way back in the 70’s Mad Magazine used to make fun of organic food fans by showing a guy putting ink marks on fruit to make it look “organic” and then tripling the price. Here are some fun food facts; frozen vegetables are just as nutritious as fresh ones; the honey you buy in a store – unless it’s comb honey purchased from the hive owner – is actually just yellow, liquid, sugar. It has no health benefits at all. Pasteurizing honey, as required by law, kills all its nutritional value. In a related note, candy or snack foods that contain honey instead of sugar are no healthier for you in any way. And they often contain more calories, so make sure to read the label.
Now, this myth is dangerous; sharks don’t get cancer, ergo shark cartilage can prevent cancer in humans. Short answer? Yes they do and no it doesn’t. The Journal of Cancer Research has a lengthy article on it and related pseudoscientific claims. Simply put, there are no over the counter medicines, or homeopathic therapies, that can cure cancer. Or any disease for that matter.
Here’s a myth that won’t kill you; carrots increase your eyesight. Well, they don’t hurt it since they’re a rich source of vitamin A, but they don’t provide much else. The myth got started in World War II. The British didn’t want the Nazis to know they’d developed a bomb site which could be used in the dark, so they put out propaganda showing pilots eating carrots by the pound. Since the Allies won the war the myth continued on.
Speaking of vitamins, the number of people who swear by them is exactly the same number of people who derive no benefits from them at all. I’ll head back over to Dave and Jennifer’s excellent article.
Vitamins sound like a great idea: One pill that can provide you everything you need to be healthy!
If only they worked.
Decades of research on vitamins hasn’t found any justification for our multivitamin habit, and in some cases, vitamins have actually been associated with an increased risk of various cancers.
To help kill a few more food-related myths, I strongly suggest you check out Readers Digest’s list of 21 food myths that are totally false.
A short overview; vitamin C won’t prevent a cold, cranberry juice won’t cure a urinary tract infection (but it can prevent them), cooked carrots are healthier than raw ones, nuts – in moderation – are a great way to reduce your risk for diabetes and are a wonderful source of happy nutrients, and, my favorite, all booze – not just red wine – will raise your level of protective HDL (a/k/a good cholesterol).
Sadly, that’s only in moderation. Still good to know though.
Okay, now you’re stuffed with knowledge, there should be no need to gorge on grandma’s turkey.