10 Food Myths You Need To Stop Believing

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10 Food Myths You Need To Stop Believing


Is milk really good for your bones? Are all salty snacks unhealthy? Do you need to drink two litres of water per day? These are just some scientific food “facts” that aren’t as concrete as you might think.

We talked to a group of nutritionists and asked them to share the food myths they find most irritating and explain why people cling to them. Here’s what they said.

Myth 1: Never Use Wooden Cutting Boards with Meat

Image: iStock

This rule, one that I myself have repeated, comes from the notion that using a wooden cutting board will result in tiny scratches and cuts from your knife, and if you use that cutting board with meat — especially raw meat — that all those meat juices will settle into those tiny cuts in the board, and no matter how much you scrub, those germs won’t be coming out. The point has even been made by people as esteemed as Alton Brown. The solution is to use plastic cutting boards, which can be dishwashed and sanitised and therefore must be safer, right?

Unfortunately, there’s a great deal of research that disputes this notion. One of the most famous studies was conducted at the University of California: Davis, by Dean O. Cliver, Ph.D of the UC-Davis Food Safety Laboratory. His research points out that there’s no significant antibacterial benefit from using a plastic cutting board over a wood one. He notes that even if you apply bacteria to a wooden cutting board, its natural properties cause the bacteria to pass through the top layer of the wood and settle inside, where they’re very difficult to bring out unless you split the board open.

Although the bacteria that have disappeared from the wood surfaces are found alive inside the wood for some time after application, they evidently do not multiply, and they gradually die. They can be detected only by splitting or gouging the wood or by forcing water completely through from one surface to the other. If a sharp knife is used to cut into the work surfaces after used plastic or wood has been contaminated with bacteria and cleaned manually, more bacteria are recovered from a used plastic surface than from a used wood surface.

Dr. Cliver’s study tested ten different hardwoods and four different plastic polymers. In the end, the result was a very scientific one: if you want a plastic cutting board, anti-bacterial properties is no reason to buy one. If you want a wooden cutting board, bacterial infection shouldn’t scare you away. Which is better? That’s a different discussion, but ultimately it’s more important that you take care to properly clean and disinfect whatever board you buy, regardless of what it’s made of. Oh, and don’t fall for plastic or other cutting boards that tout themselves as being coated or made with anti-microbial chemicals or materials, that’s largely junk science as well.

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Myth 2: Adding Salt to Water Changes the Boiling Point, Cooks Food Faster

This is one of those food myths that doesn’t want to die. You’ll hear it repeated by home cooks and professional chefs, but any first year Chemistry student (or in my case, a Physics student taking Applied Thermodynamics) will be able to show you how little the amount of salt you would add to a pot of boiling water in your kitchen actually alters the boiling point.

Yes, strictly speaking, adding salt to water will alter the boiling point, but the concentration of salt dissolved in the water is directly related to the increase in the boiling point. In order to change water’s boiling point appreciably, you would have to add so much table salt (and dissolve it completely) that the resulting salt water would be nearly inedible. In fact, the amount of salt you’re likely to add to a pot of water will only alter the boiling point of water by a few tenths of a degree Celcius at most.

So this is one of those food myths that rings of chemical truth, but only on scales that wouldn’t applicable for cooking. One thing is for sure though, adding salt to your pasta water definitely makes the resulting pasta tasty.

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Myth 3: Low Fat Foods Are Always Better For You

Alannah DiBona, a Boston based nutritionist and wellness counselor made this her number one food myth. She said:

“Without fat, the human body is unable to absorb a large percentage of the nutrients needed to survive. Additionally, fat deprivation prevents messages from being passed between neurotransmitters, resulting in all kinds of neural misfiring in the body! While good fats and bad fats do exist, the right fats in the proper amounts can actually aid in weight loss and cholesterol management.”

The high-fat/low-fat food myth is one that’s been around for a long, long time. Ultimately, it’s more important to flip over the food you’re about to buy and read the label, see what kinds of fats are in it, and then make an educated decision instead of immediately reaching for the low-fat version of whatever it is you’re planning to buy, thinking it’ll be healthier. In fact, many products that are “low-fat” are low in good fats as opposed to the bad ones, or substitute in other ingredients like sugars and sodium that you don’t want more of in your diet.

Seattle-based Registered Dietician Andy Belatti also called out this particular myth. He said, “A good intake of healthful fats is beneficial for cardiovascular health. Prioritise mono-unsaturated fats (avocados, olives, pecans, almonds, peanuts) and omega-3 fatty acids (hemp seeds, chia seeds, sea vegetables, wild salmon). Virgin coconut oil and dark chocolate (80 per cent cocoa or higher) also offer healthful fatty acids. Many low-fat diets are high in sugar and refined carbohydrates (i.e.: white flour), which are increasingly becoming linked to increased rates of heart disease.”

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Myth 4: Dairy Is The Best Thing For Healthy Bones

When I asked Andy Belatti about the most stubborn food myths he’s encountered, he noted that too many people confuse “dairy” with “calcium”, assume they’re the same thing, and think that dairy is the best thing for healthy and strong bones. He explained, “Dairy contains calcium, but so do dark-leafy greens. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, just like all milk alternatives. Additionally, bone health goes beyond calcium and vitamin D. Vitamin K is important for bone health (dark leafy greens have it, dairy doesn’t). Magnesium (present in foods like almonds, cashews, oatmeal and potatoes, but missing in dairy products) also plays an important role in bone health.”

Ultimately, if you’re concerned about bone health, you should make sure to get enough calcium in your diet, and while milk and cheese are good sources of it, they’re by no means the only sources. It’s important — and can be just as healthy — to branch out and make sure you’re eating dark leafy greens instead of just chugging down milk. Even the Harvard School of Public Health points out that milk isn’t the only, or even the best, source of calcium, as does the University of Missouri’s Nutrition “mythbusters”. If you’re looking for good sources of calcium and Vitamin D, consider collard greens, mustard greens, kale and bok choy instead of milk.

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Myth 5: Everyone Should Drink 2L or 8 Glasses of Water Every Day

Image: iStock

This myth is a holdover from a poor attempt by a number of doctors who wanted to wage an ill-researched campaign against sodas and sugary drinks. Their hearts were in the right place, but the fact of the matter is that there’s no uniform rule for how much water a person should drink in a given day. Alannah DiBona explains, “Water’s been touted as the cure for all sins, and in some ways, it’s true — proper hydration is necessary for just about anything body and mind-related. However, two litres per day isn’t going to always be the right number for you.”

My old nutritionist explained to me that I should try to drink my body weight in litres of water, divided in half. She noted that’s a good guideline for most people, but also noted that it’s a goal — not a rule. When I asked her whether there would be real health benefits from it, she explained that it’s not going to make my body work better or somehow stave off disease magically, but it will give me energy, prevent dehydration, get me up away from my desk and walking to the water cooler and she pointed out that often our bodies interpret thirst signals as hunger. It’s anecdotal, but I have to admit that drinking more water made me feel better by leaps and bounds.

While it’s important to hydrate, it’s not important to stick to an arbitrary rule defining how you hydrate, or how much you drink, or even where you get it, although water is obviously the best source of, well, water. “Nutrition is an individual science, and there will be days when your body and mind require less than the average recommendation,” DiBona explains. “Remember that water is available to you through all liquids, fruits and vegetables, and that the mark of proper hydration is very light yellow-colored urine.”

Myth 6: High-Sodium Foods Taste Salty, So Avoid Salty Snacks

Andy Belatti pointed this one out when we spoke, and it’s especially important for people who are managing their salt and sodium intake because they’re at risk for hypertension or diabetes. While new research indicates that low-sodium diets may not be better for your heart, they definitely reduce your chances of high blood pressure or type II diabetes. The trouble with managing sodium though, is that not all high-sodium foods taste salty when you eat them.

“While surface salt (the type on pretzels and salted nuts) is noticeable, stealth sodium (that which is added during processing) is harder to taste. This is why many people don’t realise that a Dunkin’ doughnuts corn muffin contains as much sodium as nine McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets,” Belatti explains.

This fact is a testament to the importance of reading nutrition labels when you shop, and why it’s important to look up nutrition information for your favourite foods at restaurants or fast-food eateries either on the web or in-store when you’re out for lunch or dinner. Sodium can lurk in strange and surprising places. Check out the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (at the NIH) for more tips on reducing your sodium intake and what to watch out for.

Myth 7: Eating Eggs Will Jack Up Your Cholesterol

Image: iStock

A number of you took me to task on this one the last time I insinuated that eggs may not be healthy, and rightfully so. Alannah Dibona cleared this one up once and for all, and notes: “More often than not, a person diagnosed with high cholesterol will go out of his or her way to avoid eggs, which is really unnecessary. The body’s cholesterol levels are influenced by certain saturated and trans-fats; eggs contain very little saturated fat (1.5g of fat per large egg) and absolutely no trans-fat. Depriving yourself of an egg means foregoing 13 naturally-occurring vitamins and minerals (and a really delicious breakfast option).”

Ultimately, eliminating eggs from your diet because you’re concerned about cholesterol will do absolutely nothing for you, and instead may actually be harmful because you’re missing out on the health benefits they have. The Harvard Medical School agrees, as does the Mayo Clinic, although they take a more metered approach to the issue, and suggest that if you love eggs, eat the whites and not the yolks. Both agree that even though the yolks have a lot of cholesterol, very little of it actually makes it into your bloodstream, where it matters.

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Myth 8: Searing Meat Seals In Juices

19th century German chemist Justus von Liebig was one of the first people to propose that by applying very high temperatures to meat you would create a “sealed” layer of cooked meat through which liquid inside the meat couldn’t escape. Ever since then, the mantra has been repeated over and over again, specifically in reference to dry heating cuts of raw meat.

The trouble is that Liebig’s experiment compared the liquid and nutrients from a piece of meat submerged in cold water which was gradually heated in that water and simmered in the cooking liquid with a dry piece of meat applied to an extremely hot surface. When considered this way, you can see why Liebig thought that searing meat “sealed in juices”, because the resulting meat was juicier than the meat that was essentially boiled to death.

However, in the book On Food and Cooking, Harold McGee finally makes a direct comparison between a seared piece of meat and an un-seared piece, both cooked with identical methods. The result was that the seared piece of meat actually retained fewer juices than the un-seared piece, and at the very least the searing did nothing to preserve the moisture inside the meat.

This debate is still one that rages today. There are plenty of people who think that searing meat does result in moister meat, while others dispute it. In reality, the best thing about searing meat is that when applied to high heat, the surface of the meat undergoes the Maillard Reaction, which results in some delicious browning on the surface of the meat. At the end of the day, you should definitely sear your steaks — not because it “locks in juices”, but because it’s tasty.

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Myth 9: Aluminium Foil and Cookware Is Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease

If you haven’t heard this one in a while, good — it was repeated often in the late 80s and through the 90s, and even though it’s fallen out of fashion (largely because it’s just not true) there are still a lot of people who believe it. This myth has its roots in research from the 1960s and 1970s that showed elevated levels of aluminium in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. The hyperbole alarm was subsequently sounded, and for years people were warned off of aluminium pots and pans, and even aluminium foil to store food.

Since those studies however, a great deal of research has been done into what possible connections aluminium may have with Alzheimer’s Disease, and at best has failed to show any substantive link or connection between aluminium and risk for Alzheimer’s Disease. At worst there have been conflicting results. Most experts at this stage believe any aluminium absorbed by the body is processed by the kidneys and urinated out, and it does not pose a threat for Alzheimer’s Disease.

Myth 10: Don’t Eat After 6, 7, 8pm

Image: Getty Images

Both Andy Belatti and Alannah DiBona called this myth out in different ways. Andy went right for its throat, noting that it is “A silly weight-loss gimmick. What matters is what you’re eating throughout the day. Food eaten after 7pm does not magically turn to fat. This is also a ridiculous ‘tip’ for someone who goes to bed at midnight or 1am. This tip often ‘works’ because people end up reducing their total caloric intake.”

He’s right: this myth comes from a half-scientific understanding of how digestion works. The idea is that if you eat too late and go to bed on a full stomach, your body’s metabolism will slow down and instead of burning the food you just ate, you’ll turn it all into fat and gain weight. That statement is only partially true, and isn’t universal for all people. While it’s true your metabolism slows down when you go to sleep, it doesn’t stop, and you still churn through the food in your stomach, albeit slower. If your diet, exercise and activity habits mean that a meal is more likely to metabolise into fat because you sit at a desk all day, eating it at 5pm versus 7pm isn’t going to change that.

In reality, what really happens for the people who swear by this trick is that they don’t wind up eating breakfast the following morning on top of a stomach full of food, and that they’ve blocked off areas of their night when they’re not consuming food — as opposed to someone who would be tempted to have a late-night snack. In essence, they’re just eating less overall. This myth is so popular that the ADA has a page dedicated to debunking it.

Belatti also makes the point that if you’re the type of person who’s up very late, setting an arbitrary time to stop eating at night isn’t going to help you lose weight, it’s just going to make you skip a meal. DiBona had something specific to say about meal skipping, and how dangerous it can be: “Just several years ago, I remember reading in Cosmopolitan magazine that skipping breakfast or lunch following a “night of indulgence” could aid in one’s efforts to lose weight. The editors couldn’t have been more wrong. If a meal is skipped, the body begins a process of metabolic slowing commonly referred to as ‘starvation mode.'” She continued, “Additionally, surges of hormones then encourage overeating at the next meal, resulting in a higher caloric intake at the day’s end. Keeping one’s blood sugar balanced with small meals and snacks throughout the day is a much more successful approach for weight maintenance and mental alertness.”

Bonus Myth: Wine Has Health Benefits, Beer and Liquor Do Not

Cheers, everyone: while studies outlining the health benefits of wine make for great headlines, it’s commonly accepted that in addition to the antioxidants in wine, all alcohols — when consumed in moderate doses — can raise the body’s levels of HDL, or the “good cholesterol”. Alannah DiBona explains: “Wine (as well as beer, liquors, and all types of alcohol) in moderate doses raise the body’s levels of HDL, or good cholesterol, which protects the heart against the plaque build up that may cause strokes and heart attacks. As Europeans have proved for centuries, 1 to 2 alcoholic beverages per day helps to reduce the risks of heart disease.”

While we’re not going to tell you to go out and develop an alcohol problem in the name of good heart health and lower cholesterol, a glass of wine or a couple of beers can actually reduce your risk for heart disease when combined with a good diet and exercise. Just be careful of the calories you intake when drinking alcohol-that bottle of wine or six-pack of beer isn’t calorie-free, you know.

How to Debunk Your Own Food Myths

Some of the most persistent food myths are the ones that are considered common knowledge, or the ones that have been long disproven but were trumpeted loudly when they were “discovered” but never formally rebutted so much when they were debunked. If there’s anything I learned in my years as a scientist and a student, it was to always keep an open mind. Not so open that your brains fall out, mind you, but open enough that you’re willing to challenge your own deeply held beliefs in the light of new evidence that contradicts them.

Keeping an open mind is only part of the battle however: you also need to seek out and pay attention to reputable sources of information when you’re reading about or researching food or nutrition science. Also, don’t ever hesitate to seek out peer-reviewed scientific studies and research to prove or disprove a point.

It’s all too easy on the internet to demand someone produce a study when they present an idea you disagree with-it’s another thing to look for it yourself, or to similarly concede when they do so, instead of simply finding a new vector of attack.

One last note: common sense reigns king: if some tip or magical diet truism seems too good to be true, or too simple to be uniformly true for all people, it probably is.

These myths just scratch the surface, and are only a few of the long lists of food myths that Alannah Dibona and Andy Belatti suggested. There are plenty where these came from, and we cover a lot of them here at Lifehacker when they come up. For example, our own Melanie Pinola took note when research from the USDA showed alcohol doesn’t “burn out” during cooking the way many people think it did.

What are some of your favourite food myths that desperately need debunking? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Andy Bellatti, MS, RD is a Seattle-based Nutritionist and the author of the nutrition blog Small Bites. Alannah Dibona, MA, MS, is a Boston-based nutritionist and wellness counselor, and the woman behind mindbodysportconsulting.com.

This story has been updated since its original publication.

Comments

  • “Myth 1: Never Use Wooden Cutting Boards with Meat”
    I notice that the most important thing to remember about cutting boards is missing, and it’s the most important thing for a reason! Don’t use the same board for cutting Red Meat and Chicken, in fact it’s recommended that you have separate cutting boards for meats and veg too, but it’s not as important as not mixing red meat and chicken which is linked to food poisoning! I use a red plastic board for red meat a white for chicken and green for veg. I would have thought that would be an important caveat in item 1! #[

    • Bullshit, I use one board for pretty much everything (unless products is to be consumed raw) and unless you are a moron and don;t cook stuff properly you shouldn’t get food poisoning.

      • Don’t be a dick, it’s not necessary to act that way! Try looking it up if you’re too dull to see the reasoning behind it! Otherwise, go for it stupid! it won’t necessarily make you sick today or even tomorrow, but sooner or later, you or someone you unfortunately cook for will! The only bullshit here is your piss poor manners! OK

        • It wasn’t mentioned because it’s a myth. As long as you wash it properly, you can use the same cutting board for everything. All the bacteria is gone.

          • Use Vinegar to clean a wooden board and oil it with vegie oil occasionally. Vinegar on any board the mild acid is great.

          • washing doesn’t kill bacteria, it simply removes fat and residues (and some bacteria)
            The bacteria is will still be there, in less numbers, but to get of them to safe levels you need to sanitise a chopping board. But with wood I wouldn’t even bother about a sanitising step.

          • In a Commercial kitchen it’s a rule that you use a different board for Meat, Vegatables, Chicken and Fish. If there was no reason why make it a rule?

            That being said if you chop vegetables and than meat on the same board you are generally ok. And if you wash a board between Preperations your essentially using a new board.

            Avoiding Cross contamination is a good thing. I purchased the multi coloured boards but I don’t use them in strict colour sequence. I use them 1 at a time. Vegtables, Raw Meat and sometimes Cooked meat with a spare if one gets knocked down.

          • “If there was no reason why make it a rule?”

            I used to subscribe to a similar theory when I was younger; that professional wrestling was real because it was on the sports channel.

            The other kids made fun of me.

          • You see the difference here is you where watching a form of entertainment so it was more about putting on a good show than realism. I’m not talking about adding colour to the next season of Masterchef I’m talking about a law that require you to use separate cutting boards or have your restaurant shut down.

            I also remember learning all about Cross contamination in Grade 8 and every induction involved with food service. I turn up to deliver a Microwave and I still get the frickin food safety induction.

        • Timmah> “Don’t be a dick, it’s not necessary to act that way!”
          So you then proceed to do the exact same thing by calling him stupid and his manners bullshit. Ok then.

    • Sounds like you’re pretty much buying into the same myth EckyThump. Disinfect the board properly and there’s no reason you’d need to have a separate board for different foods. That’s more a marketing gimmick for those multicoloured cutting board packs.

      Also depending on what you’re cooking you can prepare things on the same board. Just be smart about it and don’t go making a garden salad on the board you just cut raw chicken on.

      • +1. I’ve always been of the opinion that if you are cooking things, go for it and cut it all up on the same board. Obviously, caveats apply, like making a chicken stirfry? vegies only get a very short burst of heat, so seperate board would be a good idea.
        Ultimately, its just considering what you are doing with the foods.

      • They actually ran a gov sponsored ad warning against this some time ago in fact It may even still be running! As for disinfecting the board, particularly a wooden board, I personally don’t like the taste of disinfectant in my food! However it is a common sense thing to thoroughly clean any board before and after use!

        • Every single sentence you write ends with an exclamation mark. Please consider economic use of the exclamation mark in the future.

    • I’ve been cutting red meat and chicken on the same cutting board(s) for the last 30 years – no problems at all.

      The only thing to be careful about is using a board to cut raw meat (chicken or red or anything) and then using to it to chop something that is not cooked – something like salads.

    • Health Inspector here – it is true, but if you cook the food through the bacteria will be killed off. So a little of column A and little of column B.

      It matters if there is a kill step involved in the food eaten.

    • Nope.
      Been using the same wooden cutting board for over a decade (yup, it’s that good).
      Chop everything on it, never been food poisoned from it.

    • Sorry timmahh: the “food poisoning” is from Salmonella bacteria, not the chicken. you are at a HIGHER risk with uncooked chicken, but all meats potentially carry this bacteria. This magical thing we do called “Cooking” kills it (as long as you hit 65 degrees Celcius across the entire chunk of meat (give or take, everyone takes a different view on the exact temp that you kill the bacteria, which may mean some areas are “hotter” than 65)

      If you cut chicken on a board followed by Red meat, it will not magically “poison” you. If you Cut the two meats and cook the chicken but not the red meat then of course expect some food poisoning! As long as you are properly cooking ALL your meat products it makes no difference.

      the seminal rule is: NEVER cut a raw meat product with the same equipment that you will serve a raw veg with in the same meal. there is nothing to stop you using Board A on day 1 for meat, and board A for veg on Day 2 (or on day one) as long as it is properly cleaned in between! Just keep your uncooked and “to be cooked” separate.

      Re the comments about Sanitizing a plastic versus wooden board: the same “micro” cuts in the wood occur in plastic, and they can (and do) embed in both of these. See the authors comments above about why wood is better in this regard. In addition, Sanitizing does not kill all bacteria either. you would need to Sterilize these boards to “Kill all the bacteria”, which would mean either a flash sterilizer, or a autoclave….both I doubt you keep in the kitchen.

      the whole “Red board for red meat, green for veg” is just the result of a successful marketing campaign from the plastic companies. Congratulations.

      • Wow this is really old. But it’s still here. Finally (2 years later) someone clued in the clueless here about this topic. So thank you. It’s fairly intuitive actually. Drying out a board between uses is the main way to kill bacteria. Soap and water after cutting raw chicken will not kill the bacteria before you chop veggies for the salad. If you use a separate board for raw meat (especially the cesspool that is chicken), it will be cooked to the proper temperature to kill the bacteria anyway. If you don’t, well, collective wisdom be damned.

    • *incidently*
      has never owned a plastic board, currently have 2 “bamboo” boards and a larger 2 tone pine squares style board, and have never had food poisoning. Family never used plastic boards either

      the interesting question would be: in many of these “pressed wood” boards, does the glue used to hold them together retain bacteria? 🙂

  • EckyThump, where’s your supporting evidence? I’ve never done such a thing and never in my life had food poisoning. I think the whole point of the article is to promote evidence based knowledge rather than myths.

    • Wow,… you know what, as with Mr bullshit there, go for it I really don’t care, but just in case you decide to check for yourself, try these for starters:

      http://www.helium.com/items/257335-the-importance-of-a-clean-cutting-board/print

      http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Is-it-really-that-important-3739408.S.39706998

      Ok, properly cleaning the board is obviously essential, but contamination can still happen, so it’s safer to not use the same board! Common sense also helps!

      • These are opinion pieces, not empirical research. Regurgitated belief is not evidence. If the research cited in the Myth#1 section of this article is accurate, then the only benefit of using different boards for different foods is so that you can re-use boards without properly washing between uses. Point is, the “you *must* use different boards” thing is a myth. Proper washing is good enough unless you forget to do it properly… but then you can also forget to use the proper boards if that’s your system: mistakes are always possible.

        • You should all know by now that chicken evolved from salmonella and should therefore never touch any other food ever, let alone be eaten.

          • I assume this is a joke, but just in case:

            Chicken did not “evolve” from salmonella any more than humans evolved from mumps.

            However, chicken is frequently *infected* with salmonella and as such you need to be careful that uncooked chicken does not cross-infect something else that is not later cooked thoroughly. Basically treat it the same as you would treat pork (I.e. always cook thoroughly).

            Personally I use one, plastic chopping board for most things. I cut meat on one side and vegetables on the other, and always make sure I wash it thoroughly in hot water between uses. The only times I’ve ever had food poisoning were from takeout or delivered food.

          • @ Gregorvorbarra:

            Whilst the “reversing sides” has worked for you thus far: be careful that you dont “puncture” the plastic… 🙂

            You could technically use the same side, as long as it is all being cooked to high temp. But if it has worked for you keep it up 🙂

      • How ridiculous are those links 6 coloured boards, been cooking for over 40 years.. only use wood for vegetables and plastic for meat, never had any food poisoning, and believe me I cook a lot

  • the wine one recently is under a cloud, as the negative effects of alcohol are far more harmful than the positive effect of the antioxidents in wine .

    • When taken in moderation there are only health benefits from a good wine. Excessiveness of ANY substance is bad for your body. Too much oxygen, water and any mineral or vitamin can be damaging.

    • It depends. One or 2 std drinks won’t have much of a negative effect.

      Then the author mentions to watch the calories from a bottle of wine or a 6 pack, which would definitely have a negative impact on your health.

  • Best quote in the article: “stealth sodium”… I can just imagine a tiny little ninja dressed all in white doing flips from my food trying to get into my mouth without me noticing 😀

  • I just don’t understand why people can’t just broach a question without the venom and the vitriol. If you think someone is wrong there’s no need to be a dick, you never know you may be wrong! and even if you are right, you educated the person without alienating them!

    • OK, So HACCP will suggest and it is general practice to utilise multicoloured boards for differing types of food. The reasoning behind it, is that HACCP, where this whole notion stems from is aimed at the lowest common denominator in a commercial kitchen. The Chef, Cooks and others may understand good hygenic practice, but the prep chef may not, hence they decided to promote multicoloured boards. The chicken debate rages, but ultimately there is an increased chance of chicken most of which contains traces of salmonella, cross contaminating other foods and may lead to poisoning if the other foods are not being heated above 70c. Common sense and a little knowledge of kitchen hygene is all that matters, of bigger issue is the re-use of teatowels in kitchens cross contaminating lots of things 🙂

      Scrub any board at the end of a shift / session / cookup and allow it to dry, and be it wood or plastic, you’re good to go, just don’t dry it up with a teatowel you’ve used to wipe your hands on, mopped a plate with, wiped a knife on etc etc !!

      • See now that is a way to reply to a comment, straight forward to the point and done using a little bit of respect instead of the other nonsense. In my original comment I simply stated that it should have been a caveat to the point being made about cutting boards, I didn’t at any time state that it was mandatory! I have stated throughout this silly argument that common sense is needed clearly the use of different coloured boards is not a myth, but a recommended practice!

        • EckyThump is the Lifehacker crusader against cross-contamination and he is waging the war on chicken and beef.

          P.S. Please don’t ever cut tomato and lettuce on the same cutting board. Tomato can leave stains on a cutting board, and you’ll look like an idiot if you cut lettuce on a cutting board that has been stained red.

      • Agree, I’d bet good money that tea towels are the number one vector for bacteria in the home kitchen…

      • 75 degrees these days

        Edit: It is assumed in the industry that chicken is contaminated, even if it isn’t.

    • Don’t forget that everybody gets ‘used to’ bacteria. Just because you used a certain method for 30+ years, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is considered best practice. When I travel to Asian countries, I usually get some level of gastro upset, but I’m sure the locals don’t always get that, as they are used to their local food standards (or lack thereof).

    • For minced meat burgers only of course, steaks are best flipped sparingly, i tend to do what i learnt from Gary on masterchef, flipped twice, in different directions.

    • I’ve done side by side comparisons and found that I much prefer the traditional method of searing 2 minutes on each side, then a further 2 minutes each side on a slightly lower heat. Flipping it constantly every 15 seconds when I did it became tedious and the steaks if anything seemed a bit drier.

    • That usually only applies to steaks. But even then a hot surface to cook your steak on and you can flip it more then once.

    • That pertains to burgers, not steak. Burger patties, or rissoles, are made of mince. Mince needs to be cooked through because in the grinding process, the entire mass is exposed to the air and is no longer sterile. Good steak should be sterile inside, hence you don’t need to cook it all the way through. The reason some upscale restaurants can get away with serving raw mince is because they tend to grind their mince from a fresh steak. So flip away with your burger meat, but the rule still holds true (depending on personal taste) for steak.

  • “Aluminium Foil and Cookware Is Linked to Alzheimer’s Disease”
    – aluminium is linked to Alzheimers and other neurological disorders. That’s why a lot of ant-acids now don’t contain aluminium.
    I think I would prefer to take my health advice from a doctor rather than a tech journalist.

  • Unfortunately, we can’t believe many scientific studies either. Just finished reading “the China Study”, one scary book about nutrition and our health. There’s a whole section dedicated to how and why companies spin scientific results.

    There’s also an interesting recent talk on TED.com about bad science, highlighting the spun misinformation out there that comes to us through the medical establishment and the media.

    • This is why you look for *multiple* health studies. It’s what peer review is all about. Many of the debunked myths originally resulted from a single dodgy study or correlation.

      If you’re worried about the results of a study being manipulated, follow the money. If there’s no money in the debunking of a myth, you can probably treat the debunking as reliable. Otherwise look for multiple studies and check the funding.

      Now if you really want dodgy, look at the “health food” and “supplements” industry. 90% of supplements are completely unnecessary or in some cases actively harmful. The Chaser covered this in one or two of the episodes of their recent consumer advocacy series “The Checkout” (and it’s not hard to find other sources).

      • +1 Gregor!

        Example A) “Autism is caused by MMR Vaccine” -> single small study by a group of anti vaccine crusaders -> Everyone heard about this

        All the follow up studies disproving it, the study being discredited, and most of the authors issuing retractions no one talks about 🙂

      • Really? you’re reading multiple studies? Why? Just because you’re curious?

        And then you say that 90% of supplements are unecessary (duh) or harmful. Do you have multiple peer reviewed studies to back that up?

        • He told you where to locate the facts if you’re curious.
          The Chaser/the Checkout do an excellent job of checking research and whittling away the bs to the science.
          If you’re not curious…don’t look.

          • Neither of you are thinking critically. You’re just reading studies and watching the chaser. That’s nothing to feel superior about. Any idiot can do that. You’re not the first person to go to uni. And you’re still just being told what to believe.

            Learn to use your own judgement and you can save the research for what matters.

          • wow man you should get another chip for your other shoulder to balance things out a bit.

            Don’t assume I didn’t look into the references and make my own decision on the quality of the research and statements made.

            Very spiteful rowan.

      • Agree – any truth/fact will stand against all scrutiny so yes I agree – check multiple sources and know who funds the research you quote so you can eliminate any likelihood of vested interests in skewing results.

        Learning to think critically about information presented to you is more important than quoting anecdote or unscrutinised research/researchers.

  • I’ve always reasoned that a good wash for a cutting board should be enough. After all, if a good scrub with detergent doesnt get the bacteria and such out, then why would it come out when I put some meat or veg to be cut on the board?

    • Gluten intolerance certainly exists, but it’s not as common as some people think it is.

      Many of the people who think they are gluten intolerant are likely intolerant to some of the other things that are found in food with gluten (such as FODMAPs).

      The fact that “gluten-free” takeaway food is almost never actually gluten-free would cause a much bigger ruckus otherwise. I’ll admit that applying coeliac standards for “gluten-free” is probably a little harsh, but it’s very irritating when lower standards are used.

    • Gluten intolerance certainly does exist. The myth is that not eating gluten = healthy. Which is obviously false

    • There are people that can’t have gluten.

      MSG sensitivity is a myth. It has never been replicated in a scientific setting.
      These so called sufferers ate Chinese in one study and had all the symptoms. They were fine eating Italian. The Italian was full of MSG, the Chinese, nada.

  • I don’t really understand this guideline: “I should try to drink my body weight in ounces of water, divided in half.”

    This clearly doesn’t mean drinking half your weight in body water – do they mean taking your body weight in pounds and halving that? I suppose it’s a US article so that may make sense to people Over There.

  • Ahhh old EckyThump have a tantrum up there. I can’t remember what happened to him but I think there was a big blow up and he got banned.

  • Just pointing out (gf is a chef) that a big part of using separate boards in a commercial kitchen is due to a certain group of people that exist, known as “vegans” and “vegetarians”.

    Also, I agree that in a commercial kitchen, the boards should be separated ONLY because it is extremely important that everything is cooked properly, and some customers have poor immune systems. At home, I’ve always used the same board and no one has ever been sick from it.

  • Myths like chopping boards are designed to cater to the lowest common denominator. People are lazy, and may not wash their board appropriately….this is where the ‘myth’ came from.
    Also best practice….separate boards ensure no cross contamination especially in commercial kitchens as has already been said. One person said use vinegar to wash the board….perfect solution.

    Those who say there isn’t anything to worry about with the ozone layer vs those who do….why wait to see, why not try best practice and do what we need to do to ENSURE there isn’t a problem….see chopping boards, this is a corollary.

    Go crazy and use whatever you like, Darwin would approve…also just because as yet you haven’t received food poisoning does not mean it wont happen. This is self efficating logic and is, well….again Darwin would approve.

    Drinking wine has health benefits. You get far greater health benefits and save some money by buying a punnet of blueberries and not drinking the wine….and guess what you get fibre, additional vitamins, and more antioxidants than several bottles of wine. You also wont wake up with a headache you also wont be consuming 211….sulphates.

    Now HDL cholesterol spike. The conclusive evidence is drawn or extracted information. The fact is that HDL is considered good….the consumption of wine causes a HDL spike in the blood stream….the logic is then that consuming wine is good for you. Did we make comparison against non consumption?

    Now lifehacker has put the caveat at the end that….. It’s all too easy on the internet to demand someone produce a study when they present an idea you disagree with-it’s another thing to look for it yourself, or to similarly concede when they do so, instead of simply finding a new vector of attack.

    Lovely, so this was designed to quell those who would like to know more. Excellent. I agree mostly with the findings, but they’re not conclusive they’re extrapolated and only one side.

    But, they did say this:
    Keeping an open mind is only part of the battle however: you also need to seek out and pay attention to reputable sources of information when you’re reading about or researching food or nutrition science. Also, don’t ever hesitate to seek out peer-reviewed scientific studies and research to prove or disprove a point.

    Remember all research has a set outcome or objective. Most research is paid for by someone, usually with a vested interest. Most research today will be a myth tomorrow.

    Like I said …you get far greater benefits from not drinking alcohol, than by believing that myth and consuming….this is the kind of thinking you need to adopt to get beyond the myths….both those garden variety and also those expounded by experts.

    Let the flaming begin. 🙂

  • Vitamin K is important for bone health (dark leafy greens have it, dairy doesn’t)

    Wholly incorrect as full cream milk contain vitamin k, albeit a little.

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