So today I’m pondering food myths and facts – you know the ones, things like:
Myth: Eat Your Oranges, Vitamin C Stops a Cold
Mr TS always says this whenever one of us has a sniffle and no matter how often I say “That’s nonsense, shut up and stop being annoying”, his sideways look tells me that I only have myself to blame because I’m not munching my way through a mountain of citrus. 73% of us are with Mr TS on this one apparently, according to figures sent over to me by FoodSaver Fresh. Research, however, shows that:
Among extremely active people—such as marathon runners, skiers, and Army troops doing heavy exercise in subarctic conditions—taking at least 200 mg of vitamin C every day appeared to cut the risk of getting a cold in half. But for the general population, taking daily vitamin C did not reduce the risk of getting a cold.¹
The research concluded that eating sensibly, making sure you get your recommended 5 a day of fruit and veg, rather than overdosing on vitamin C when you get a runny nose, is the way to go. Keeping your immune system fit and healthy is far more effective at fighting off infection when it arrives than trying to madly shut the stable door after the horse has bolted. Here’s a photo of some beautiful blood oranges, in season right now, which I am eating with pleasure as part of my usual balanced diet and next time Mr TS raises his eyebrows at me I shall remind him of this.
So – that’s one myth busted, what next? Carrots.
Myth: Fresh Raw Carrots Are More Nutritious Than Cooked Carrots
Well they are, aren’t they? 61% of people questioned agreed with this one and I would be one of them, however, I would be wrong! Cooking carrots (and tomatoes by the by) actually increases their nutritional content – who knew?!
Carotenoids, such as the beta carotene in carrots, are more readily available when vegetables are cooked or processed (such as chopped or puréed). Cooking and processing help release the carotenoids, which are bound to the cell wall “matrix” of the vegetables.²
Basically the beta carotene is the bit our bodies convert to vitamin A and cooking carrots (not boiling them to death mind you) helps release that – very sciencey and very cool!
So Mr TS and I are clearly not too knowledgeable on our food facts – I turned to my followers on social media to see how they fared (mainly to stop myself from feeling a bit silly).
Myth: The 5 Second Rule.
I’m not a tidy cook it has to be said, when I’m in full flow chopping veg, sizzling stuff in pots, tasting and testing I go a bit mad professor and things roll off boards and fly out of pans. If they land on the floor by my feet and they are going to go back into a hot pan I usually pick them up again and pop ’em in as long as they haven’t been sitting there too long unnoticed.
According to the FoodSaver research I am not alone and 25% of us believe that the “5 second rule” for food is true – that’s the one where if you drop food on the floor and pick it up within 5 seconds all is well, no worries.
I asked my followers what they thought and a whopping 99% of them abided by the 5 second rule, some of them ‘stretching it to 10 seconds’. The dog owners amongst them said they rarely managed to beat their pets to the fallen food, one or two of them said that a bit of dirt was good for us and most of them said that it would depend how long ago they had cleaned the floor. Now, of course, we all know really that it’s not true (many of my respondents said as much) but we are happy to take a chance – as one said “I’m not dead yet’! However, it’s not really a very good idea and certainly doesn’t have any scientific basis. Research carried out by microbiologist Dr Ronald Cutler has made me think twice before reusing the fallen – have a read for yourself but he concludes.
The five-second rule has little effect on the amount of bacteria you would pick up from a heavily contaminated surface.
Can you really guarantee the cleanliness of your floor? I know I can’t, especially with so many feet wandering about, both human and feline!
Myth: Food Should be Left to Cool Completely Before Refrigerating
73% of respondents in the FoodSaver research thought this one was true, my followers were pretty evenly split. Those who did cool food first did so mainly because they had been ‘told it would harm the fridge’ or to avoid changing the fridge temperature, because their ‘Mum told them to’ or for ‘Food safety’. Those who happily popped uncooled food into the fridge did so because ‘I was always taught to let food cool for about 30 minutes and then get it in the fridge – and that anything that was out of the fridge for more than two hours was not salvageable’ or because ‘hot food warms the fridge, but only for a little while’ and some of them are doing it because they are impatient but then ‘feel guilty about it’. Some were confused and worried about both – ‘If I leave it out it too long I know there’s a bacteria issue but if I put it in too soon it can cause problems in the fridge – I often chuck it away as result!’
So who is right? Basically, we need to trust our fridges – they are designed to chill food and food which is left out to cool at room temperature for too long encourages bacterial growth. The recommendation is that food shouldn’t be left out for any longer than two hours before you put it into the fridge. Looking through my respondents’ answers most of them are doing this already but could probably do with worrying a little less about the affect warm food has on fridge temperature!
Myth: If Food Smells OK It’s Ok to Eat
35% of those asked for the FoodSaver research agreed with this one and most of my followers said they tended to see use by dates as guidelines and to trust their eyes and noses instead, as do I. It is really important here, however, to err on the side of caution:
You can’t taste, see or even smell all bacteria that causes food poisoning, and tasting just a tiny bit of contaminated food can cause serious illness.³
Just as a reminder – I’ve been working with FoodSaver Fresh for the last few months, you can read my First Impressions here, how I was getting on two weeks later here and my post about Reducing Food Waste here. FoodSaver Fresh is a vacuum sealing solution, helping to make short-term food storage easier and more convenient. By removing air from specifically designed vacuum containers, the FoodSaver Fresh forms a powerful airtight seal enabling households to reduce waste while also helping to keep food costs down.
So, how many food myths and facts have I busted today or did you get them all right? Can you think of any more food myths which may need a debunking? Leave a comment here or come and join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter – I really love to hear from you!
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