For every food group, there is at least one myth surrounding it. While some of these myths may have truth to them, they are often misinterpreted, which can do more harm than good when we focus on what to put in our bodies. Here are five common food myths that can affect your health:
Carbohydrates are Bad for You
Carbohydrates-- often shortened to carbs-- are foods that get converted into glucose during digestion. High-carb foods include pasta, bread, and other grain-rich foods, but many fruits and even some vegetables are high in carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are essential for the body to produce energy and thus are a critical part of anyone’s diet.
The myth that “carbs are bad” comes from a class of carbohydrates known as “refined carbohydrates.” These foods have had their fiber and nutritional value removed. While this gets glucose into the blood faster, the lack of nutrients and fiber is the root of the myth. Refined carbs are found in foods like white rice and white pasta. While not necessarily “bad for you,” it is always good to have something with fiber and nutrients alongside your rice or spaghetti.
You Have to Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day
Staying hydrated is important, but do we need eight glasses a day? While drinking eight glasses a day is a reasonable goal for the average person, some people may need to drink more or less water depending on their daily activities. For example, both people who exercise frequently and pregnant people will need to drink more water in a day. If you’re sick, you’ll need to drink more water too.
Water isn’t the only way to stay hydrated, either. Juices, teas, milk, and even fruits and veggies have lots of water in them. Some beverages, however, may cause the body to dry out. Coffee, black tea, and alcohol are not ideal sources of hydration.
Canned or Frozen Produce isn’t as Healthy as Fresh Produce
This is partly true. When picked, a fruit or vegetable must rely on its own nutrients to keep its cells alive. The longer produce sits out before eating, the fewer nutrients it will have. Plus, some nutrients may be used faster than others, like vitamin C and vitamin B. Foods high in these vitamins are always better fresh.
Efforts to preserve produce include refrigerating, freezing, and canning foods, all of which aim to slow the nutrient degradation process. When freezing, produce is blanched, then immediately frozen within hours of harvest, locking essential nutrients. As long as the food stays cold, frozen produce is arguably more nutritious than fresh produce, which may take a few days to go from farm to shelf. Canned foods, however, may lose more of their nutrients since the process takes longer, and the amount of heat needed to prepare canned foods is much higher than that for frozen foods. However, this doesn’t mean canned foods are necessarily bad either. All produce is good!
Cranberries can Cure a UTI
Cranberries can prevent UTIs but not cure them. All infections must be managed with antibiotics, and UTIs are no different. If you can recognize the signs a UTI may be forming, drinking low-sugar, low-additive cranberry juice or taking cranberry pills can help prevent things from worsening. For people who regularly experience urinary tract infections, antibiotics are always necessary.
Carrots are Good for Your Eyesight
Just like cranberries, the idea that carrots improve your eyesight is only partially accurate. While carrots do not literally enhance your vision, they contain lots of beta-carotene, which the body needs to produce vitamin A. Vitamin A helps the eye convert light signals and send them to the brain. Higher levels of vitamin A allow for better vision in low light.