Food Myths, Debunked

From the five-second rule to digesting gum, we get to the bottom of these food tales

Food Myths, Debunked
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We’ve all done it before: midway through eating the best sandwich of your life, you happen to drop it on the floor. “Quick, pick it up! The five-second rule!!” Too slow? OK, let's call it the 10-second rule.

Alas, while this sounds good in theory, and prevents many foods from being wasted, what we believed as kids (and probably what we believe as adults) isn’t always true. Case in point, the five-second rule. Sadly, there’s not a window that gives you that take-back chance — a crucial period of time offering you a blank slate after you've dropped your slice of pizza on the floor at 4 a.m, without it being contaminated with germs.

For better or worse, check out the truth behind these food myths, that tend to be more like old wives' tales than actual fact. 


Boiling Vegetables Destroys All of the Nutrients

Verdict: While cooking destroys some of the nutrients in food, some foods actually benefit from being cooked (like tomatoes and carrots) because their cell walls are broken down, making the nutrients easier to digest. However, for leafy greens like kale and spinach, boiling them can cause the nutrients to leach out. Luckily, if you salt the water just right, you can minimize the loss. Or try steaming as a gentler alternative to boiling. 

Click here to see 6 Ways to Get the Most out of Your Vegetables. 


It Takes 20 Minutes for Your Stomach to Tell Your Brain When Its Full

Verdict: It's true, except that you actually have to be paying attention to what you're eating (not just scarfing down food on-the-go or munching on a bag of buttered popcorn at the movies.) 


The Five-Second Rule

Verdict: While food that's been on the ground for five seconds versus a few minutes or hours will have less bacteria on it, you can still get sick from it, so probably not the best idea. Although, as Food Scientist Harold McGee suggests, you might want to consider where you dropped your food before picking it up (i.e., the just-cleaned floor of your apartment versus New York City subway platform — your call).


Using an Avocado Pit to Prevent Browning

Verdict: If you've ever tried this, then you know it doesn't work. All you end up with a browned layer of avocado on top. What you can do though is to squeeze a little bit of lemon or lime juice on the avocado to prevent oxidation (the acid prevents the browning). 

Click here to see 6 New Ways to Use Avocados.


Gum Takes Seven Years to Digest

Verdict: You probably heard this as a kid, and, let's be honest, seven years sounded like a long time then (and still does today). Plus that image of gum decaying in your stomach is not pretty. Luckily for us, it's not true! Unfortunately, the underside of many middle schools desks have paid the price for this false claim. (Photo courtesy of Flickr/lilCystar)




Carbohydrates Make You Fat

Verdict: Don't fall prey to the Atkin Diet's preaching — there are Carbs That Are Actually Good For You. Yes, eating tons of refined carbohydrates (like white bread) and soda is not healthy, but there are carbs that are full of fiber and nutrients that are essential to any balanced diet. (Think lentils, chickpeas, and edamame.)

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Darling's picture

How about using your own judgment for five-second rule.


I love when people make dumb comments while criticizing others. If you believe the five-second rule, I invite you to have a meal at my house after I drop it on the bathroom floor. But only for three seconds. Heck... how about the kitchen floor after I've come in from the garage?


Why can't people just accept we all have different body chemistry's and what makes one person fat can totally not effect another.


The 5 second rule was debunked on Myth Busters - the TV program. If it falls on the floor, DON'T eat it,


You obviously don't know the Atkins plan or you would know that Atkins advocates eating those good carbs in moderation, and not eating the refined carbs.


(atkins) plan is --as has been discovered--another horrific, dangerous fad diet. If you want to gain all the weight back AND get heart disease, by all means!


Actually, you are wrong. Myth busters completely debunked the 5 second rule.


Surprisingly, there was an actual scientific study done that indicated there's some truth to the five-second rule. What's not surprising, judging from the usual fare I read on the Daily Meal, is the low level of journalistic standards on display here.


Where is this "actual scientific study?"

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