Food Myths: from eggs to alcohol

12:12 PM, Jan 12, 2012   |    comments
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Lots of mythology

MINNETONKA, Minn. - Nutritionists and dieticians know that the food world is rife with "old wives' tales" and out and out myths. Janice Cox, dietician for the Lunds/Byerly's chain of Twin Cities grocery stores understands the issue thoroughly.

At KARE's request, Cox explained the reality of various "food myths," beginning with the concept that brown eggs are better for people than white eggs.

"The color of the shell makes no difference in the nutritional quality of the egg," explained Cox. "The color of the shell is determined by the breed of the hen. White eggs are laid by white hens and brown eggs are laid by red hens. The taste, the cooking qualities and the flavor are the same."

Another "myth" is the superior nutritional value of fresh vegetables over frozen or canned. "Fresh vegetables start losing their nutritional content shortly after they are picked," said Cox. "Vegetables that are flash-frozen and canned are picked at the height of their nutrient content. Many of the nutrients are actually retained."

Fresh vegetables may have been picked a week or longer before they are purchased in a store. Fresh is undoubtedly more nutritious for someone living on a farm or picking vegetables for immediate consumption out of a garden. However, most people rely on the produce section of their local market. Hence: the value of frozen and canned vegetables.

There is the issue of high levels of sodium in many canned vegetables. Cox admitted that salt is often added in the canning process. She offered a solution:

"If you give it (the canned vegetables) a good rinse, you can reduce the sodium intake by about 50 percent," said Cox.

There is a myth about so-called "negative calorie" foods, such as celery. The idea is that the consumption of celery burns more calories than are contained in the celery itself.

"That would be nice," scoffed Cox. "But, actually, it does not work that way. For example, a celery stalk is about 10 calories. If it uses 20 percent of those calories to digest it, it (the calorie burn) is only two calories. You are not going to get very far adding up calories that way."

Dietician Cox was eager to dispel another food myth: that eating late at night will add more weight than eating earlier in the day.

"Actually, it does not matter when you eat. What matters is what you eat," offered Cox. She added that, of course, if one splurges on chips or other high fat foods, that can help a waistline balloon, but she noted that individuals have a daily calorie intake level. When that level is exceeded, there is weight gain.

"But," said Cox. "it does not matter what time of day you do that, if you have exceeded your (daily) calorie limit."

One food myth that many people hold deals with alcohol. The myth is that the process of cooking burns off all of the alcohol. Not so, said Cox.

"If you flame or flamb√© a food, about 75 percent (of the alcohol) is actually retained. If you slow-cook a recipe for two and a half hours, about 5 percent is retained."

This is important information for cooks hosting dinners involving tee-totalers or children. Also, there can be persons at dinner who cannot have alcohol mixing with medications.

"So, if you need a recipe to be completely alcohol-free, choose alcohol-free ingredients, like an alcohol-free wine," said Cox.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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