‘Food folklore’ dispels common food myths

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional
Medical Center

***image1***Alligators live in New York City sewers. The Lochness Monster swam around in Scotland, and some people still think it’s doing the breaststroke. These are myths that have long-since been disproved by most. On the other hand, food myths continue to have a strong foothold.
Food myths such as chocolate being addictive. Chocoholics have meetings similar to alcoholics. Will drinking coffee sober up a drunk? Is it feed a cold and starve a fever? Will chicken soup cure a cold? Is pork really the other white meat?
Sue Walker, an outpatient dietician at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, said it is important to dispel these myths because a lot of people have questions about them.
“I get hit with these questions all of the time,” she said.
A book called Food Folklore from the American Dietetic Association lists too many myths to mention. Here are some of the more common ones.
Regarding chocolate addiction, it is true that some people have a stronger craving than others, but true addiction is not possible, according to Food Folklore. It merely becomes a high-calorie habit.
For years people have given a drunk coffee in attempt to sober him up before handing him a set of keys and sending him on his way.
“Not a good idea,” said Ms. Walker. “Coffee and any other caffeinated beverage will not make you more sober, just more awake.”
Pork. The other white meat. Here is a slogan that has permeated America with the implied message that pork is healthier than red meat … and white.
“There is no such thing as white pork,” she said. “Show me a white piece of bacon. Show me a white piece of bologna. Show me a white rib.”
Ms. Walker said don’t be lulled into believing that pork can be eaten without consequence. It does contain cholesterol, plenty of it.
Comparing three-and-a-half ounces of beef to the same amount of pork shows that pork contains more cholesterol. Depending on the cut of meat, beef contains between 91-106 milligrams of cholesterol. Pork? Again, depending on the cut, pork contains between 94-109 milligrams of cholesterol. She said no more than 200 mg of cholesterol should be consumed per day.
Cold and flu sufferers need not worry about which one gets fed and which one gets starved, as that theory is useless, she said.
“Either way it’s not true because you need to keep eating so your immune system remains healthy,” she said. “If you starve yourself, you may not have the nutrients to protect the body. You need to eat, and drink an ample supply of liquids.”
Chicken soup is easily digested, and the warmth might help open the sinuses. However, it will not cure a cold, said Ms. Walker.
Now for a weight loss myth. Ordering the salad bar is a great way to get a low-calorie meal. According to Food Folklore, an average plate from an average salad bar can have more calories than a deluxe burger, fries and milkshake. It has been reported that salad cottage cheese, croutons and the dressings are so thick you can slice them,” she said. “Don’t let your sense of smell and taste override your sense of healthy choices.”