Twenty food myths

There exist a lot of bizarre and at times ridiculous views about food. Nutritionist Tatiana Tovbushenko from Barvikha Clinical Sanatorium in the Moscow area, comments on some of them.

1. Bluish milk is diluted with chalk.

In fact, bluish milk is the best as its fat and cholesterol contents are low. Skimmed milk has the lowest fat content – 0.05 %. It has a bluish colour, but definitely it contains no chalk. Such milk has less vitamin A than other types of milk, but it has as much protein as any. This product has full value and good for those who watch their calories.

2. Milk with a long shelf life contains strong preservatives.

That is not true. The secret lies in the application of high-temperature technologies. Milk is heated to 135C and then quickly cooled. That makes "bad" bacteria perish, but all the vitamins are retained. 

3. Boiling water destroys pathogenic micro organisms.

It is not quite so. Boiling does not destroy even micro organisms, let alone heavy metals, pesticides, herbicides, nitrates, phenol or oil products. So, this is not enough for its purification. Besides, beneficial salts of calcium and magnesium settle inside a teapot after boiling.

4. Canned food is not good for health.

In many respects this can be true for canned meat rather than canned fish. Long heat treatment makes even large fish bones soft and edible, thus providing an additional source for calcium intake, which is beneficial for our skeleton. Daily recommendation of calcium is approximately 1,500 mg, both for men or women, young or old. 

5. It is unwise to swim within one hour of eating.

This myth dates half a century back when the American Red Cross has published an instruction on life-saving saying that swimming immediately after meal may cause stomach cramps and even death. But later this theory was questioned. Many swimmers assert that they usually cover long distances during training sessions immediately after meal.

6. Lovers lose appetite. 

Willi Pasini, professor of psychiatry and psychology at Geneva University, is based on his investigation claiming that lovers, especially men, contrary to the popular notion, tend to have better appetite. Owing to their sentimentality, only one of women in love out of four loses her appetite. 

7. Children should eat mushrooms.

Mushrooms are often included in children's diet. However, you shouldn't do that, as children do not generate enzymes needed to process the protein contained in mushrooms. That is why children get food poisoning from eating even small portions of edible mushrooms. The consequences of mushroom poisoning are equally disastrous for children and elderly people.

8. Toxins can be removed from mushrooms after boiling them for several hours.

This is deceptive. In most cases mushroom toxins show very strong resistance to heat treatment. 

9. Alcohol helps fight mushroom poisoning.

On the contrary, alcohol aggravates poisoning effects. 

10. People with greasy hair shouldn't eat too much fat. 

Too much fat is not good in any case. However, even if you consume one litre of olive oil within a day, that will hardly reflect on the structure of your hair. 

11. Raw food is better than processed one. 

It is not so simple. Some vegetables, for example eggplants and beans contain toxic substances, which become harmless only after heat treatment. Besides, the stomach often  can’t digest raw products properly.

12. Lettuce makes your figure slim.

This belief is true to some extent as lettuce leaves practically do not contain calories. However, generally they are not eaten alone and most lettuce sauces are high in fat.

13. Liver is very nutritious.

The liver certainly stores many vitamins, minerals and protein, but it also contains a lot of fat and cholesterol. Furthermore, according to American nutritionists, cattle liver accumulates hazardous quantities of chemicals and hormones animals get from fodder. 

14. If food looks and smells naturally, it is safe.

That is not necessarily always true. Some kinds of bacteria that poison our food do not affect their external appearance. So, if you have any doubts, you'd better not risk. 

15. Chopping boards made of wood are unhygienic.

That's what manufacturers of plastic chopping boards say. In fact, there is no difference, where hygiene is concerned, between them. What's more, some biologists believe that wood boards are even better. 

16. Yoghurt alleviates hangover as it contains alcohol.

As a matter of fact, there is almost no alcohol present in this product. One ripe pear contains as much alcohol as a bucketful of yoghurt.

17. Coffee negatively affects pregnancy.

It has been proved that caffeine does not affect healthy development of fetus and is unrelated to miscarriage. But according to recent American studies, pregnant women should refrain from coffee as well as from coke or any other drink containing caffeine.

18. Coffee causes a rise in blood pressure.

This statement is disputable. Australian researcher Jack James in his 1998 study showed that three to four cups of coffee taken in the course of the day tend to slightly increase the lower level of blood pressure.

However, such a rise in pressure can be caused by an emotional dispute with the your friend or even by the sight of a doctor holding a tonometer and coming up to you. The English doctors say that the "hypertonic" action of coffee is short lived, and does virtually not affect its regular drinkers.

19. Lemons are sour because they lack sugar and rich in vitamin C.

In fact, one kilo of lemons has more sugar than one kilo of strawberries. As for vitamin C, its content in strawberries is higher than in lemons. Lemons are highly valued for many other beneficial substances, or antimicrobic and antiseptic properties rather than for their vitamin C content. For this reason lemons are long since known to have been used against cold, flu, sore throat, inflammatory diseases of the palate.

20. Carrots are extraordinarily beneficial for your eyes.

Carrots contain beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A  needed for the function of the eye's retina. However, large quantities of beta-carotene are found in the liver and are easily replenished with various products. Therefore, fears that you'll not get  enough  vitamin A, which is critical  for your vision, appear to be far-fetched.

Andrey Reshetov
Translated by Zaghid Yusoupov

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Author`s name Andrey Mikhailov