Scitech | Food myths: fact or fiction?

The truth behind popular perceptions of nutrition

TORONTO (CUP – Excalibur | York University) — When it comes to staying healthy, it’s no surprise that people will believe just about anything to stay in good health. Whether it’s drinking green tea every day or eating chicken soup every hour, the consensus has always been better safe than sorry.

But who’s to say that every single thing we hear is true? Here are some of the most popular myths around, and the truth behind them.

Fact: Chocolate can give you acne

The tasty treat is known for coming in different shapes and sizes, and is one of the most popular sweets around, but the probability of getting acne from eating chocolate is very high.

“Some people have allergies or are sensitive to some of the components in chocolate, so that may trigger acne,” said Rolando Ceddia, a health professor at York University. Ceddia cautions people eating the treat, saying that though researchers have yet to find a reason as to why chocolate triggers acne, there is a clear association between the two.

Fiction: orange juice prevents the flu

The drink is enriched with vitamin C – which boosts your immune system – and calcium, but it’s not the key to any secret antidote for the flu.

The theory has been that the more you drink, the more likely you are to stay healthy, but as far as scientific evidence goes, according to Ceddia, it’s untrue.

“The reason they say it’s good is because there is vitamin C in it. Some people say it prevents flu or infections, but there are a lot of studies who look at people who drink it and there is no difference,” said Ceddia.

Though vitamin C has been shown to reduce the duration and severity of flu symptoms, the added sugar in many brand of  orange juice hinders any kind of repellent effect.

Fact: organic food is better for you

When comparing organic and non-organic foods, one would find that organic tends to be the healthier option, explained Ceddia.

According to Ceddia, a fair amount of chemicals and pesticides  go into the crops of farmers, and if there is any food out there that is grown without those chemicals, then it is indeed the healthier choice.

People have chosen to go with non-organic simply because it is cheaper to buy, but at the end of the day, organic food is a lot healthier than the regular kind, says Ceddia.

“They put so many chemicals on [crops] to make it look bigger and nicer, but it is not better,” he explained.

Fact: Carrots are good for vision

Carrots are a great source of vitamin A, an important component of having not only healthy skin, but also healthy vision.

The orange vegetable contains beta-carotene, which changes into vitamin A after it is swallowed and digested by the body, says Joe Schwarcz, director of McGill’s Office for Science and Society, in an article. It thus helps in developing normal growth in the body while maintaining good vision.

Fiction: Eating chicken noodle soup is the best way to fight a cold

Parents and grandparents have said it: the best way to fight the cold is by eating chicken noodle soup. Right now, though, there is no evidence to support this, says Ceddia.

“There is one nutrient or one component that may be related to making the body healthy, but when you put it in your system, the nutrient will not achieve what it is thought to achieve,” said Ceddia. “It’s okay to eat chicken soup because it’s nutritious, but it’s not to say that chicken noodle soup is better than having broccoli soup.”


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