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Five food myths, busted

Posted by Janice Cox, RDN, LD, Lunds and Byerly’s Registered Dietitian/Nutritionist
Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I get a lot of great questions about food and nutrition. It never ceases to amaze me how much false information is out there and how confusing it is to know fact from fiction. Recently, KARE 11 asked me to talk about food myths. It was easy to come up with a list that was part of the story; we’ll never be at a loss for material.

1. Myth: Brown eggs are healthier than white eggs
Answer: False
Shell color makes no difference in the nutritional quality, taste or cooking characteristics of an egg. The color of the egg shell depends on the breed of hen that laid it. In commercial eggs, hens with white feathers lay white eggs and hens with red feathers lay brown eggs. Organic eggs offer additional health benefits, but when it comes to the shell color of regular commercial brown or white eggs, the nutrition in the egg is the same. So whether you choose white or brown eggs, it’s simply a matter of which you prefer.

2. Myth: Late night snacking will cause me to gain weight – if I go to bed shortly after eating it’s going to turn to fat
Answer: False
Many people think eating late at night causes weight gain. Actually, it's not when you eat that matters, it's what and how much you eat. If you’ve already had all you calories for the day and late night eating is above and beyond your calorie needs, you’ll gain weight - that holds true no matter what time of day you exceed your limits. Often the snacks we choose at night are treats like ice cream and chips. So if you’re going to have them, plan for them and limit your portion size.

3. Myth: Cooking burns off alcohol
Answer: False
Some alcohol does evaporate and burn off, but not completely and it depends on the cooking method. For example, if you flame or flambé a dish, 75% of the alcohol remains. It takes 2.5 hours of simmering a food to reduce the alcohol content to 5%. So if you want the recipe to be alcohol free, use alcohol free ingredients.

4. Myth: Frozen and canned vegetables aren’t as healthy as fresh
Answer: True and False
The fresher the vegetables, the more nutrients they contain. However, shortly after vegetables are picked, they start losing their nutritional quality. Frozen and canned vegetables are typically picked and processed at the peak of their ripeness and are flash-frozen or canned, helping retain nutrients. Keep in mind canned vegetables are high in sodium, but a good rinse can reduce it by 50%.

5. Myth: You burn more calories eating celery than there are calories in the stalk.
Answer: False
Our bodies use about 10% of the calories we eat each day for chewing and digesting. Some foods, like celery, might burn few more calories when processing. However, if a celery stalk has 10 calories and you burn even 20%, or 2 calories, digesting it, you still consume about 8 calories. That’s not going to get you anywhere very fast. Bottom line, these fruits and vegetables aren’t a magic bullet, but certainly are part of an overall healthy diet plan.

Are there food and nutrition questions that you’re not sure are true or not? 

Click here to view the KARE 11 video with me talking about these and other food myths.

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