A new study claims to have uncovered the truth behind five of the biggest ‘food myths’ around, but exactly how true are these statements? LIVING’s taking a closer look.
Myth 1. Carrots make you see in the dark
We’ve all been told this one as a child to try and get us to finish up our veggies, and we’re probably using it (or will use it) on our own children too. But, how much truth is there in the statement…
The answer: Not really. Carrots are rich in ‘vision-improving’ beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A, which does play an important role in low-light vision – but the human eye will never be able to see in pitch-black darkness. While carrots and leafy, vitamin A-enriched vegetables may be good for our vision, the human eye still needs some light to see in the dark.
Where did it originate: During WWII, the RAF claimed its success gunning down German fighter planes at night was helped by its pilots eating an excess of carrots, but this was nothing more than a propaganda campaign, dreamed up by the Royal Air Force during the 1940 Blitz to trick the Luftwaffe into thinking that was the reason for the takedowns.
Truth factor: 4/10
Myth 2. Oysters are an aphrodisiac
Oysters have appeared on lists of natural aphrodisiacs alongside chocolate, chillies, and avocado since the 1700s, but can eating these slimy little molluscs really give us a boost between the sheets?
The answer: In short, yes! Oysters are rich in zinc and rare amino acids which do indeed boost libido when higher levels enter the blood stream. In fact, experts believe that oysters gleamed in spring the most potent, as this is when the molluscs themselves are breeding, and higher levels of the acid are present.
Where did it originate: Legendary 18th-century lover Casanova was said to eat 50 oysters for breakfast each day, which was widely believed to have aided his large sexual appetite.
Truth factor: 9/10
Myth 3. Eating cheese before bed gives you nightmares
In Charles Dickens’ 1843 novel ‘A Christmas Carol’, Ebenezer Scrooge claimed that just ‘’a crumb’’ of cheese before bed gave him his famous ghostly nightmares. But is this the same for all of us?
The answer: Not completely true. A 2005 study by the British Cheese Board found that while cheese did seem to give volunteers stranger, more vivid dreams, they weren’t necessarily nightmares. However, cheese does contain several compounds, including tryptamine and tyramine, which are believed to influence the brain’s chemical systems and, in turn, our state of mind.
Where did it originate: The age-old myth that cheese gives us nightmarish dreams can be traced back as far as Charles Dickens’ classic novel, A Christmas Carol. In the novel, the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge complains just ‘’a crumb’’ of cheese before bed gives him the ghostly night-time apparitions that the story is so famous for.
Truth factor: 5/10
Myth 4. An apple a day keeps the doctor away
Could one of Britain’s favourite fruity snacks be the answer to all of our health problems?
The answer: Questionable. Apples are rich in vitamin C, as well as phytonutrients vitamin A and E, and can help reduce the risk of heart attacks, diabetes and asthma. But, apples alone are not guaranteed to keep the doctor away and should be consumed as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Where did it originate: A Pembrokeshire proverb, which appeared in the 1866 edition of Notes and Queries magazine said: ‘Eat an apple before going to bed, and you’ll keep the doctor from earning his bread.’
Truth factor: 6/10
Myth 5. Hair of the dog
The notion that drinking more alcohol cures a hangover is a popular English expression but is there any truth in it or are we just pushing boundaries…
The answer: No. More alcohol may make you feel better by temporarily topping up your alcohol levels, but you’re only delaying the inevitable hangover and could end up feeling worse.
Where did it originate: The “hair of the dog that bit you” refers to an old English expression originally coined to describe a treatment for rabies.
Truth factor: 3/10
Find out more about the study carried out by Wren Kitchens.