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Common food myths

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By Scott Mechura EBS FOOD COLUMNIST

Once we get an idea or tradition handed down to us, be it by family or from the media, it can be difficult to reframe what we think we know. Like the old saying, it is easier to fool someone than to convince them they have been fooled.

Here are some common food myths.

Eggs are dairy.

Depending on where you shop, eggs often get stocked alongside cheese, sour cream, milk, yogurt, and all things dairy. But eggs are not dairy. Technically, any milk originating in a mammal is dairy, and yes, even a camel. But when humans have health issues or lactose intolerance, as does most of the African and Asian continent, the dairy in question is overwhelmingly from cows.

Not only is an egg from poultry, but it is produced by an entirely different process in the biology of the animal than lactation.

It’s not blood.

This was the topic of a previous piece I wrote. But to recap, the red liquid you see on your plate underneath your steak is not blood. It is something called myoglobin, a protein that helps muscle tissue store oxygen. Here is an easy way to remember the difference: Myoglobin is in tissue, while blood is found in arteries and veins.

All fat is bad.

Not all fat is created equal, and it’s easy to get confused with all the different fats, such as saturated, polyunsaturated, monounsaturated and trans. But here is a simple, generally accurate method of identifying good fats from bad fats. If it is opaque or firm at room temperature, it probably isn’t good for you. Think lard, margarine, any meat fat, butter and coconut oil.

Those last two are a bit tricky. A high-quality butter has many benefits, and there is still debate over coconut oil.

If you want to lose weight, skip breakfast.

It’s amazing to me the amount of people who say they don’t eat breakfast. The reason is usually that they aren’t hungry, or they wait until lunch because they are trying to watch their weight. But if you want a list of things to do to gain weight, skipping breakfast would be on that list.

We need to jump start our metabolism after a night of sleep. And there are two key ways to do this. One is by drinking at least one full glass of water immediately upon rising. The other is to eat a sensible, medium portioned breakfast within 30 minutes after getting up in the morning. Waiting until lunch can cause you to eat a larger lunch than you should because your body hasn’t had a meal in upwards of 16 hours.

Nuts are junk food.

Have you ever noticed the irony that most nuts can be found in two different places in the grocery store? One location is the bulk bins, next to things like buckwheat flour, quinoa and lentils. The other, nestled in between Bugles and microwave popcorn.

Depending on the nut, you can get potassium, vitamin E, fiber, copper, zinc, flavonoids, resveratrol and a host of others. They are packed with nutrients, just avoid the honey-roasted salted ones; those lose much of their nutrition during those processes. Ideally, a raw nut is the best.

Whole wheat bread is good for you.

We view whole grain bread as part and parcel to whole foods. But there is more to it than that. While whole wheat bread is undoubtedly better than Wonder Bread, bread is still wheat. And wheat is still gluten.

Gluten provides no essential nutrients. And many of us experience something called gut inflammation. Gluten can break down and kill the good bacteria we carry in our intestines. And we feel so uncomfortable because of the high concentration of neurons there, even more than in our brains. This incidentally is why we refer to our “gut feeling”, or “gut reaction.” It’s due to the amount of neurons. 

Scott Mechura has spent a life in the hospitality industry. He is a former certified beer judge and currently the executive chef at Buck’s T-4 Lodge in Big Sky.

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