When it comes to the foods you should avoid, the internet points the finger directly at pretty much all of your favorite snacks and meals… which makes eating virtually anything a stressful event.
“Is this food bad for me?”
“What will happen to me if I keep eating this?”
It’s easy to become paranoid after reading so many posts about how “dangerous” our favorite foods can all potentially be. List after list and website after website all tell you that it’s dangerous to put anything into your mouth, these days. So how do we know which food facts out there are the ones we should really listen to?
Although those health blogs and websites you read about online may all be based on some form of truth, there is no need to be afraid of everything you eat.
The truth of the matter is that there are only so many foods that need to be avoided, and much of those foods are dangerous only in large quantities or when not prepared in the proper way.
Here at Malibu Health Labs, we have rounded up some of the most famous food myths and had them debunked. With all those popular posts out there promoting health food “advice”, it’s easy to be misled and placed on the wrong track.
Here are 7 Cooking and Health Food Myths, debunked by Malibu Health Labs.
“Gluten is Bad for Everybody. “
No, gluten is not by any means BAD for everybody. Gluten is only *harmful* to people who suffer from various forms of Celiac Disease --an autoimmune disorder that causes gluten and the digestive tract to be attacked by the body, causing severe pain and discomfort.
Many people believe that they too can benefit from non-gluten lifestyles, but little science has proven that cutting out gluten entirely is advantageous, unless you suffer from Celiac. In fact, there has been more science revealed that unless you do suffer from Celiac, cutting out gluten can in fact have its own set of risks..
“Water Boils Faster When You Add Salt.”
The myth that salt lowers the boiling point of your water is based on a scientific truth, but unless you are adding a very specific amount of salt into your warming water --this tip proves to be false.
It would take a lot, and we mean a lot of salt added to your water to make a difference in your water's boiling point. So next time you want to get your pasta to cook faster don’t bother with the salt. Just turn up the heat and put a lid on it… unless you simply enjoy salty water.
“You Have to Drink 8 glasses of water a day to be properly hydrated!”
We’ve all been told that we need to down 8 glasses of water a day to be maximally hydrated, at some point. Will you be hydrated by drinking that many glasses of water a day, absolutely! But realistically, you only need to drink when you are thirsty --nowhere scientifically does it say that humans need to consume 8 glasses a day to be optimally functional.
Our bodies are designed with our “I’m thirsty!” sensation as a warning system. When we feel the desire to reach for a drink, that is when our body needs a drink, be it just a mouthful of water or an entire 16 oz bottle. We are all designed differently and our bodies are all different sizes, so the 8 glass rule is an empty one that is based on nothing more than your mother trying to make sure you are drinking enough.
Drink when you are thirsty, and don’t force yourself to drink more than you need to. Not that 8 glasses of water in a single day is at all risky, but you should know that it is possible to over hydrate your body. It would take a very large quantity of water constantly consumed throughout the day to be harmful, but even still –listen to your body, and hydrate as needed.
“Coffee and Sodas Dehydrate You!”
It is true that plain water is more hydrating than coffee and soda… perhaps, but just like the salt-in-water myth, you would need a lot of it to do any kind of possible harm.
In the meantime, coffee and sodas are liquids made of water, and water is hydrating. Yes there are often tons of sugars and sweeteners and added caffeine inside, but that does not diminish the fact that water is water, so yes, both coffee and sodas are hydrating.
Is this a recommendation to drink soda and sugary coffees instead of water? Not at all. But the next time you do reach for refreshing drink on a hot day, know that you will be hydrated either way.
“Searing Your Steaks Seals-In all the Delicious Natural Juices!”
This is a fun one. Many starting cooks believe that this statement is true, and many of them even point out an early experiment conducted years ago by an 1800’s chemist named Justus von Liebig. He wrote a popular book back in his day that stated that to best cook steak, one should burn a crust onto the outer surface of the meat.
Although his idea was on the right track, that creating a harder outer surface would ideally trap the juices inside, he was just noticing the Maillard reaction (when proteins caramelized under intense heat) rather than a new way of cooking steaks. Although his cooking “tip” was debunked years ago, it still lives on today.
So, does pan searing a steak allow you to keep your natural juices inside your cut of meat? Technically no, the meat’s juices will evaporate and escape no matter what you do.But if you enjoy a nice crust on the outside of your steak, then more power to you. Sear away.
“Stop! Don’t Scrub a Cast Iron Pan with Soap!”
Cast iron pans are an interesting piece of cookware. You can prepare almost any dish with one, and it heats and cooks your food evenly and consistently almost every single time. But in between uses –how is one supposed to properly clean it??
There are two sides to this debate, one side saying that you can use soaps, and the other crying out that a drop of soap is never to touch the cast iron pan’s surface.
So which is right?
The correct answer lies in the sensitivity of the pan itself. The reason one shouldn't use soap is because it effects the seasoning of the pan. The seasoning of the pan is the lining that keeps food from sticking to its heavy surface. Oil is baked onto the surface and allows the food to be cooked in the pan without burning too quickly or sticking. Using harsh soaps, which are designed to neutralize oils, will wash away the protective lining.
Properly cleaning a cast iron pan may seem like a headache, as it involves multiple steps to get a real deep cleaning, but for those who use cast iron as their go-to for cookware, it’s a labor of love.
“Egg Yolks Are the Unhealthiest Part of the Egg!”
Eggs have come under fire because it came out that the yolks have more cholesterol than the outer whites. Truth is, the yolks have a lot more than just cholesterol --they contain all kinds of nutrients that the whites do not.
If you are nervous about harmful effects of egg yolks, you can rest easy. Go for whole eggs when you can, and if you are feeling uneasy about it all, just lower how often you consume eggs in general.
Of coarse, if you are under your personal doctors orders for a special diet, always take their word over ours, as they know your body best.
"Study Finds A Gluten-Free Diet In Adults Without Celiac Disease May Increase Risk Of Cardiovascular Disease". Celiac Disease Foundation. 2017.
Levan, J. "Should You Add Salt To Boiling Water?." Food Republic. 2011.
“Myth of 8 Glasses of Water a Day” University of Michigan Health System. 2015.
Aubrey A. "Coffee Myth-Busting: Cup Of Joe May Help Hydration And Memory." NPR.org. 2014.
"The Biggest Myth About Searing Meat." Tasting Table. 2016.
Splawn M. "Can You Really Not Wash Your Cast Iron With Soap?." Kitchn. 2016.
"Eggs." The Nutrition Source. 2012.
Disclaimer: This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with questions regarding a medical condition. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read here. This article is for general information only.