Three common food myths busted

PHOTO: Three common food myths busted

The "five-second rule" says that if you pick up dropped food quickly, it's safe to eat. This is false. I've heard that eating chocolate gives you pimples. This, too is false.

Our eating habits are so often governed by hearsay that it is important to ascertain if these sayings are the result of actual science or acute silliness.

Myth #1: Diet foods are better for your health

Theory: Eating low-fat, low-sugar or sugar/fat-free food helps you lose weight because your fat and sugar intake is reduced.

Reality: Manufacturers compensate for the lack of taste with high-calorie artificial fillers and flavourings.

Tip: Instead of low-fat/fat-free salad dressing, ask for vinaigrette dressing and toppings like nuts, seeds, dried fruit or avocado to add flavour and texture.

Consuming a full-fat item can also be more satisfying than a non-fat one, leaving you fuller and less likely to over-indulge.

Myth #2:  Fresh fruits and vegetables are always more nutritious than frozen ones.

Theory: Frozen fruits have lost most of their vitamins and minerals during the freezing process.

Reality: Frozen fruits and veggies are usually picked ripe and flash-frozen immediately, preserving the maximum amount of nutrients. "Fresh" supermarket items have probably spent days being handled and subjected to temperature and light fluctuations, causing the loss of many nutrients.

Tip: Don't refuse that smoothie just because of its frozen-fruit content; you can still get a good amount of vitamins and anti-oxidants from that serving.

Myth #3: Eating anything after 8pm makes you gain weight.

Theory: Calories taken at night sit in your system overnight and turn into fat while your body isn't active.

Reality: Your body uses calories the same way at any time of day. What matters is the total amount you consume and its nutritional value.

Tip: Instead of potato chips, try some microwaved popcorn for a fulfilling serving of complex carbs; just omit the butter and salt