Have you ever wondered which food is really the best form of protein or if kids really do need to drink milk to get the calcium they need?
As it turns out, much of what seems to be common knowledge on nutrition is actually just myth.
Here are the most common food myths debunked
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Myth 1: Turkey makes you sleepy
Remember all that buzz related to the ‘sleepy’ chemical in turkey called tryptophan? You might’ve felt that you were the victim of it’s sleep-inducing powers after Thanksgiving dinner! But, the truth is the connection isn’t so defined.
Tryptophan is also found in chicken, as well as other proteins such as fish, dairy and eggs. The reason why we often think turkey makes us want to take a nap is because on Thanksgiving day, most people overeat, which delivers too much blood to your stomach, causing you to feel drained and sleepy — according to researchers.
Myth 2: Fish is full of healthy fat
The truth? Some of it is.
Omega-3 fatty acids are found in up to 30% of fish. But there is other fat in fish that isn’t so good. For example, tuna is 23% good fat and 33% bad fat — a mixture of different fat with no real health benefit. The other 70% of the fat in fish is a mixture of saturated fat that can raise cholesterol levels. But the healthy fat found in fish does seem to reduce the risk of heart disease by as much as 35%, according to studies!
Read more: 19 ‘healthy foods’ you should reconsider
Myth 3: Meat is the only ‘complete’ protein
Some people report feeling fuller when eating meat versus plant based proteins, but meat is not the only complete protein.
If we were to look at the chemical composition of proteins, we would see that protein is a long chain of amino acids strung together. People need a complete set of amino acids to build muscle and other body tissue, and while meats contain all of them, plants do too. If you are or decided to become a vegan or a vegetarian, you could get all the protein you needed from beans, vegetables, grains and fruits.
Another myth related to this one is that you can only get the iron you need from meat, which isn’t true — you can get the recommended amount of iron form plant sources too.
Myth 4: Kids need to drink milk to get enough calcium
Due to the success of all the milk ad campaigns we’ve all seen saying milk ‘Does the body good,’ we might be hard pressed to find someone who did not connect milk with a healthy diet for children.
But actually, research shows that kids can get plenty of calcium from non-milk sources.
Other great calcium sources include leafy green vegetables and broccoli, beans and tofu. Also, the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t recommend cow’s milk for children younger than one.
Myth 5: Alcohol helps you sleep
More than 25 studies have been published about alcohol’s relationship to sleep. Though it might help you fall asleep more quickly, the truth of the matter is that alcohol disrupts the restorative REM sleep that our body needs. So what ends up happening is you may fall asleep, but you likely won’t stay asleep all night or get a restful night of sleep.
If you want to have the best possible sleep, stop drinking caffeine at least six hours before bedtime, and instead of a glass of wine or beer, try deep breathing and relaxation techniques instead.
Myth 6: Aluminum foil and cookware is linked to Alzheimer’s
This myth was circulated in the late 80s and early 90s, and even today, some people believe it.
Early research from the 60s and 70s showed that aluminum was linked as a possible contributor to Alzheimer’s. This then led the public to concern that exposure to aluminum through everyday sources like aluminum cans, cups and cookware would increase the risk.
But since then, a great amount of research has been done disproving any substantive link between Alzheimer’s and aluminum. Most experts concur that aluminum absorbed by the body is cleansed by the kidneys and there is no increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Myth 7: Spicy foods cause ulcers
Contrary to popular belief, ulcers aren’t caused by eating spicy foods or worrying too much, according to science. Instead, H. pylori bacteria is responsible for ulcers and can be treated with antibiotics.
If you are being treated for an ulcer, it’s best to eat low-acidity food until the ulcer is completely healed.
As it turns out though, eating spicy food can lower mortality by 14%. Participants in a study linking spicy food with longer life were also less likely to have died from cancer and heart and respiratory diseases.