Myths about food have existed for as long food itself has existed, but fikar not we are here to bust some of the most commonly held food myths that hold you back from indulging in creamy, fluffy, sunny gold scrambled eggs, sautéed veggies and a lot more. They say there is always a kernel worth of truth in myths, so we are here to help you discern between the science and the false ‘barei borrei kehte hain..’ You’ll be surprised by how much false information you’ve believed over the years as a result of family, media and even experts (Yes, even they can get it wrong, too).
Food is God’s gift to mankind; it’s comfort, happiness, sustenance all combined into one, there is seldom where food can do wrong to you (unless we are talking about over eating fried food) and you’ve come to the right place to decode some of the most commonly held false beliefs about food. Here we separate the science from the silly.
- Eggs have bad cholesterol
This food myth is what can be best described as food dhandali. A research published in the 1980’s drove the world mad over the “bad cholesterol” found in eggs which can lead to blocked arteries and heart attacks. This research gave rise to a trend of egg white omelets, egg white frittatas and all other sorts of recipes where egg yolk was treated as the dushman. However, new research published in 2016 and 2017 has finally transpired the truth that egg yolks are not bad for our health nor do they contribute to causing high blood pressure or increase the bad cholesterol in our body. Egg yolks are actually very beneficial for us and are an essential part of a balanced diet. Eggs are a great source of protein and have an abundance of other minerals and vitamins like zinc and iron, antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin, vitamin D, that help in strengthening hair and the brain-boosting chemical choline. You can keep your cholesterol in check by monitoring saturated fat (margarine, high-fat meat, processed food etc) in your diet. And oh, eating eggs doesn’t give you acne: at least it won’t disturb your hormones if they are in the regular range, unless your dermatologist suggest otherwise. Applying egg whites to face, however, helps fade acne scars.
- Milk Builds Strong Bones
Milk might not be as beneficial as we thought. Image courtesy: milklife.com
Mazboot hudian, mazboot mustakbil! Apparently, chugging gallons of milk every year will not bring you closer to becoming Wolverine or to having strong bones. A 2010 study published in the Nutrition in Clinical Practice actually found that milk might be the reason bones lose calcium. Listen up, desi moms, stop forcing your kids to drink “khalis” milk. Switch to almond milk, soy milk, and for calcium try consuming other foods like yogurt, cheese, eggs, seeds like pumpkin, sunflower and BEANS!
- Chocolate is an aphrodisiac
Slow down, majnu. This long held myth was busted when eleven separate studies failed to provide a link between chocolate and how it amped up the ‘mood’, if you know what I’m saying. Placebo effect. Apparently, just thinking that chocolate can increase a certain emotion or sensation in your body can actually heighten your mood and certain hormones. So, it’s just you tricking yourself, chocolate ain’t the miracle food guys. All those Valentine’s Day chocolate boxes gone to waste? Maybe not. I mean chocolate is a pretty good dessert, comfort food, mood savior, a decent snack. I’m sure your partners will still appreciate the gesture for its sweetness. *grabs a bar of Hersheys* Moving on. Chocolate has many other benefits which include improving your heart’s health (when taken in 70% cocoa form) and loading your body with anti-oxidants. Yes, you can actually get a good skin by incorporating cocoa into your diet, not CADBURY DAIRY MILK for God’s sake. The sugar in that will surely give you skin problems and bloating in the lower abdomen.
- Eating less fats= you won’t get fat.
Honey, you know what? Don’t boil that chicken anymore. Grill it with olive oil. Go ahead and do yourself and us a favor, have that bite of cake, too. “So many women still fear eating fat, stemming from the low-fat craze that captivated the public in the ‘80s and ‘90s. But we got it wrong,” says Michelle Cady, integrative nutrition health coach of Fit Vista. Com. “When you increase your healthy fat intake and lower your intake of refined, white carbohydrates, you’ll stay satiated longer, stabilize your blood sugar, and teach your body to burn off extra body fat, rather than rely on quick bursts of carbs, sugar, and glucose for energy.” The same thing was lectured by nutritionist such as Jackie Keller (who whipped Anne Hathaway into her Catwoman body).
A picture of taste and health; don’t limit your good fats. Courtesy: health.com
So now you can gorge on your favorite dry fruit, eat guacamole with nachos, and hell, have the occasional slice of cake or butter on toast. Just don’t punish yourself because starving will not make you any healthier and just make you crave the wrong foods.
- Cooking carrots drains their health benefits
Look at that orange glaze, courtesy of eatingwell.com
Wrong! It’s actually quite the opposite. Cooking carrots breaks down the tough cellular walls that protect the hoards of beta-carotene which is the nutrient the body uses to produce Vitamin A and this vitamin is used by the body to maintain and protect the health of your immune system, skin, hair, and eyes. The healthiest way to consume carrots so you can benefit from the variety of nutrients that they have to offer is by steaming them. Low fat content, a high Vitamin K, fiber and potassium content makes steamed carrots an ideal healthy side meal. Vitamin K acts as a signaling molecule in your body.
It sends signals to the platelets which are small blood cells responsible for clothing, like when you suffer an injury Vitamin K informs the body for the need to send small blood cells to the injured spot to slot it and prevent infections. And potassium is necessary for healthy, functioning nerve impulses, and muscle formation. So, eat your veggies kids.
- Legumes and beans do not produce protein unless eaten with rice
Proteins are essential to our survival. Our body needs protein for muscle formation, hormone manufacture, and regulation. These proteins are made up of 20 different combinations of amino acids. Out of these 20 amino acids, our body can only form eleven naturally; the other nine have to be taken through food sources. Beans and legumes are some of these food sources that can provide amino acids; however, it is false that they need to be paired with rice to get the maximum benefit. The amino acids not provided by legumes and beans can be taken in through animal based protein sources like meat and eggs. So for the diet watchers, go ahead and eat your bean salad, it will benefit you without rice as well.
- Less carbs, less fat= healthy you
Look at that whole wheat goodness. Courtesy of reader’s digest.com
Not necessarily. I know we’ve all grown up listening “rotti chawal motapei ka bayis”. That’s not entirely true. We Pakistanis tend to gain weight from consuming carbs because we usually gorge on processed grains. Rotti, naan, khameeri rotti are all made of processed wheat flour, which is not far from the white flour we use in baking and frying. White flour has been dubbed as “white poison”. On the other hand, if you switch to whole grain atta (flour) which you can find easily in the market or buy your own grain and have it pressed into flour as per your satisfaction, you will actually be consuming “healthy carbohydrates”. Yes, folks, healthy carbs do exist.
Carbohydrates are actually essential for maintaining your general well being and keeping you alive. They help the body produce glucose which is an instant form of energy, so skipping carbohydrates entirely is not a good idea. There are more than seven major studies that have shown women and men who eat whole grains have 20 to 30 percent less heart disease. Separately, in a 2010 study of more than 13,000 adults, those who ate the most servings of whole grains had lower body weight. This is because whole grain has fiber which helps in your body flush out extra carbs and toxins. So next time you’re in the mood for a paratha, you go for it! (just make sure it’s whole wheat).
- Margarine has fewer calories than butter
Butter or margarine? Who is your better friend? Source: readers’sdigest.com
Pfft, you wish. That is not true at all. While margarine (vegetable oil hydrogenated) was originally invented as a healthier alternative to butter (contains fat and cholesterol), most margarines have trans fat which are more damaging to your heart’s health (clogged arteries) by contributing to a rise in bad cholesterol in your body. The best alternative to both margarine and butter is clarified ghee. Hey, if it keeps the Kardashians’ waist tiny, it sure can help us eat our veggies in a manner we actually like them (sautéed and seasoned). If you do have your heart set on eating margarine on your toast, (yes, blue band is NOT butter, it is a margarine spread) then look for trans-fat free brands the next time you hit the grocery store. Until then, desi ghee made at home (clarified) is your best option. Clarified ghee is not very appetizing as a spread but it works as well as butter in desserts, savory sauces and for sautéing vegetables or meat, believe me, I am talking from personal experience.
- Radiation used in microwaves creates toxic compounds in food
This one’s on the self-proclaimed, physics kei dushman who probably never cleared physics in high school because the name of the machine pretty much gives you an idea that is employs “MICRO WAVE” to heat your food. All sorts of radiation will not turn you into hulk or make you into those deformed creatures from Chernobyl Diaries, only gamma, U.V. and X-rays pose health concerns. Micro waves have much less energy than these and thus do not contribute to creating new toxic compounds. The heat produced is produced through the food as a result of water in it. Microwave cooking is no different than any other method of cooking where heat is given to food. But be careful when heating food in plastic containers. In that case, some compounds can “leach” from the plastic into the food so use only microwave-safe containers.