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Something to Chew On: Five Myths About Food
Nebraska Ag Connection - 12/04/2017

When it comes to food, don't swallow all that information online and on social media. In honor of the 100th anniversary of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, nutrition experts are busting a lot of the myths with science-based evidence.

Setting the record straight on some of the misinformation is Baylor University nutrition expert and registered dietitian Janelle Walter, Ph.D., professor of family and consumer sciences and Nutrition Sciences Program coordinator in Baylor's Robbins College of Health and Human Sciences. She also is a Fellow of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Some of the myths that need debunking:

MYTH 1: CARBS ARE BAD.

"Carbohydrates are your friend. The brain, heart, pancreas, liver, red blood cells, etc., use energy that comes from carbohydrates," Walter said. "Sugars, pasta, bread, beans and so on are great at supplying carbohydrates your body needs. Fats cannot do this. Stored protein can help but with limitations. That is why 50 percent of daily calories should come from carbohydrates."

MYTH 2: IF YOU CAN'T PRONOUNCE IT, YOU SHOULDN'T EAT IT.

"This is much too simplistic," Walter said. "For example, the name for coffee or caffeine is C8H10N4O2 or 1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione. Or aspirin is 2-Acetoxybenzoic acid. Some of the most common ingredients when listed by their chemical name look unfamiliar. This is no way to judge the worth of an ingredient."

MYTH 3: HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP IS WORSE THAN TABLE SUGAR.

"The glucose-fructose ration of high fructose corn syrup is exactly the same as table sugar. There is no difference. They are the same chemically," Walter said.

MYTH 4: EVERYONE NEEDS TO DRINK EIGHT GLASSES OF WATER A DAY.

"How much water do you need per day? It is estimated that you lose about 6 cups of water per day and this needs to be replaced," Walter said. "It can come from pure water, lemonade or watermelon. If you are thirsty then you need to drink water. If you are in the hot sun you need this much and more because you are sweating and cool water would work in that situation. It helps you cool off."

All that said, "Too much water is not good. It dilutes the electrolytes, and your heart will not beat normally."

MYTH 5: EATING CARROTS WILL IMPROVE YOUR EYESIGHT.

"Carrots have carotene which can be made into Vitamin A by the liver," Walter said. And while that's good for overall eye health, the story about their improving vision was deliberately developed by the British during World War II. They wanted to convince Germany that the Royal Air Force's success in shooting down Nazi planes was the result of improved night vision due to eating carrots. (The actual reason was the new radar technology the RAF was using.)

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