How to Stop Believing in Food Myths

Dump those myths already!

Does drinking saffron-flavoured milk give you fair babies? Should we really avoid the combination of fish and dairy products? Are there no nutrients in an apple's skin? These so-called "food facts" aren't as concrete as one might think. All you need to do is: question!

Food myths have been prevalent in India since time immemorial. Although, we’ve entered the 21st century, where logic and science are used to explain almost everything, we still cling on to such baseless beliefs. India is a culturally diverse country with each religion propagating different food rituals. These rituals, which were based on science, geography and climatic conditions, have, over the years, lost their purpose. Mainly because people migrated from east to west and north to south. They’ve left their hometowns but clung on to the food rituals which may no longer be doing them any good. 

It’s time to dump these food myths and embrace the foods that we’ve been denying for so long!

1) Apple skin is devoid of nutrients

  • There’s a reason why “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Among several studies, research titled “Apple phytochemicals and their health benefits” published in the Nutrition journal in 2004, highlights the many benefits of apple. Being high in flavonoids and phytochemicals, it protects the heart, keeps cancer at bay and helps in lowering cholesterol. When exposed to air, these bioactive compounds get oxidised quickly and lose their functions. The peel helps in retaining all these nutrients. 
  • Another reason why you should be chomping it down with the skin is to benefit from the insoluble fibre - which helps in relieving constipation by adding bulk and also increases satiety.
  • Researchers at the Cornell University in 2007, identified triterpenoids in apple peels that destroyed the cancer cells in laboratory cultures. 

Note: Always wash the peel well before consuming. If the peel appears shiny immerse it in boiling water, to get rid of the waxy coating. 

Also Read: 5 wine myths you need to stop believing

2) Fish should not be consumed with dairy products

  • There is a lot of speculation regarding consumption of fish with milk and milk products. However, going by science, there isn’t is a single study that proves the harmful effect of this combination. 
  • “Bengal and a few other parts of south India use coconut milk in their fish gravies. Additionally, chefs in Europe use milk in the sauces and gravies of fish,” points out Chef Gautam Mehrishi. 
  • This being said, if you still experience discomfort after consuming this combo, get yourself checked for milk or fish allergy.

3) Chocolate causes acne

  • Relax all you chocoholics - there is no human study to prove this. There are many reasons for acne eruptions like hormonal imbalance, excessive sebum production or increased inflammation. No food will directly cause acne. However, certain foods may trigger reactions in the body that increase inflammation resulting in acne.
  • Many chocolates are loaded with trans-fat, saturated fats and sugar which causes increased inflammation in the body. This can result in acne breakouts.
  • According to Harvard Medical School’s “Why stress causes people to overeat”, long term physical and emotional stress leads to an increased intake of food rich in fat and sugar (chocolate being the most preferred). This, in turn, may cause acne. 
  • According to chef Mehrishi, anything eaten in excess can cause damage and the same holds true for chocolate too. To reap its benefits, consume in small quantities and always follow up by brushing your teeth.

    Must Watch: Fish Hacks

4) Saffron milk consumed by pregnant women lead to fair babies

  • According to a study titled “Taboos and misconceptions about food during pregnancy among the rural population of Pondicherry” published in Calicut Medical Journal in 2010, 62% participants believed that consumption of saffron by a pregnant woman would result in a fair-skinned child. However, there is no scientific evidence for this claim. The baby’s complexion will largely depend on the genetics of the parents. There are no supplements or dietary factors that will assure a fair complexion. 
  • According to Chef Mehrishi, consuming saffron gives a great flavour to the milk and if consumed in moderation can benefit the health of the mother and child.   
  • Saffron milk alleviates gastric disorders (as pointed out by the study “Chemical and biological properties of the world’s most expensive spice: Saffron”) which are commonly experienced by pregnant women.
    So sure, pregnant women can consume saffron milk to reap from its health benefits, and not in the hopes of changing the skin colour of their babies!


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