It's funny how we all "know" stuff to be true. Eggs? Full of heart-killing cholesterol. Chicken soup? Full of cold-fighting nutrients. Unfortunately as much as we know all this stuff to be true, it just isn't. These are just food myths that get repeated so often that everyone starts to believe them, but the buck can stop here. We can debunk these myths and learn the truth. Why? Because the only thing more delicious than dinner is knowledge.
If you believe McDonald's is the soul of all evil because it makes chicken nuggets from pink meat, then think again. While there are plenty of reasons one might wish to avoid the fast-food mega giant, ammonia-laden, mechanically separated poultry (MSP) isn't it. In fact, McDonald's has been deep-frying all-white-meat chicken in its nuggets since 2003. No pink stuff here.
While we're on the subject of Micky D's, we should probably go ahead and toss out the whole Super Size Me thing altogether. While Super Size Me does actually chronicle filmmaker Morgan Spurlock's weight gain due to overeating at McDonald's, it's widely believed Spurlock intentionally ate over 5,000 calories and didn't exercise. Attempts to repeat Spurlock's results have failed when dieters ate a normal amount of calories and included exercise.
That's not to say McDonald's is health food; it's just not as bad as it's been made out to be.
This was a popular internet rumor that got a lot of attention and then turned out to be false. Taco Bell's ground beef is actually 88 percent beef, with the rest being filler. That's still not ideal, but it's better than 35 percent.
There's a widely held belief that organic food is always better for you. However, as WebMD shows, that's not always the case when looking at organic food's impact on the environment, on our bodies and on our taste buds. Of course, there's nothing wrong with buying organic food; it's just not quite what it used to be.
This one is tough because, on the balance, genetically modified food can be really, really, really bad, and the idea that food companies can patent DNA is farcical at best and dangerous at worst. However, just because a food has been genetically modified doesn't automatically qualify it as bad. Some genetic modifications can cause food to grow better in certain regions, resist disease, etc. On the face of it, these aren't bad. However, the politics and some of the more extreme changes (read about the terminator gene if you doubt it) certainly are bad.
Unless you have a specific susceptibility to salt (which about only 10 percent of Americans do), salt is not going to increase your chance of heart attack and stroke. An overabundance of salt might cause your blood pressure to rise, but not enough to cause any lasting damage. So if you like your food to taste good, then feel free to add a little salt. Just drink water to help flush yourself out, and you'll be fine.
You've probably heard the myth that you can add beer, wine, liquor, etc., to a dish, and the liquor will instantly cook out. Don't believe it. Some studies show that only about 20 percent of alcohol is cooked out of food that's cooked for a few minutes, and only 30 percent is gone when the food is cooked for several hours. Logically, this makes sense. If you add beer, wine, etc., then part of the flavoring is the alcohol, and if that were to magically burn up, then the food would taste dramatically different.
Whether this matters depends on you, your alcohol tolerance and the age of your diners.
In years past, women who were pregnant were forced to endure nine months of diet food punctuated with bouts of cravings for mashed potatoes and ketchup, chocolate and pickles. However, doctors are finding that if consumed in moderation, sushi and red wine are safe to enjoy several times per week. Of course, sushi still carries some danger (particularly from parasites), but the danger is no greater than if you ate it on a normal day.
One of the most often repeated chef myths, searing a steak, chicken breast, pork chop, etc., does not lock in its juices. If it did, there would be little sense in applying any ingredients as the meat cooked, as they would not be able to penetrate the meat, just like those juices would not be able to leave.
However, this does not mean you should give up searing your meat. Cooking meat on high temperature does bring our friend Maillard and his magical reaction to your dish (which is a whimsical way of describing all the cool stuff when meat is browned in a pan). Therefore, juices are not locked in, but flavor and texture are developed, making searing meat a critical cooking step.
Last but not least, while you don't want to eat a big meal and go straight to bed, there is no magical time when you should stop eating. Every person's sleep schedule and natural body rhythms are different, so if you're the type who goes to bed at midnight, then the restriction to stop eating at 8 p.m. doesn't make sense. You shouldn't try to eat and immediately fall asleep, but don't worry about eating around 8 p.m.
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