6 Crazy Food Myths, Debunked

Two friends cooking in the kitchen together

Is coconut oil good for us or the worst thing to ever land on our plates? Does coffee cause cancer or cure it? Do sweeteners make you gain weight or lose it?

There are so many food myths circulating today and the proliferation of the internet means that they get spread and repeated faster than ever. That’s why we’ve set out to debunk a few of the most popular food ones. Don’t believe everything you read online.

Myth: Eating Fat(s) Makes You Fat

Truth: This myth is majorly busted and has been for a while. Healthy fats are actually a crucial part of every diet, and they don’t make you automatically gain weight. Some of this confusion comes from the interchangeability of “fat” as a macronutrient and “fat” as a bodily state. If you choose to eat the good kind of dietary fats (while maintaining proper portions), you shouldn’t have a problem—and you’ll still get to enjoy your favorite dishes.

Myth: It Takes 7 Years to Digest a Piece of Gum

Truth: You’ve probably heard by now that this isn’t true (though we bet it scared you as a kid—us too)! So why are we digging into this old gem? Because the real crime of this food myth is that it fails to mention one crucial point: gum, when disposed of in the trash (or littered on the ground) takes a humongous amount of time to biodegrade. We’ve been worrying about gum hanging around in our stomachs when we should be worrying about what the second largest cause of litter (next to cigarette butts) is doing to our cities, parks and landfills. Need fresh breath? Try a mint!

Myth: You Can’t Find Tilapia in the Wild—it’s a Mutant Fish

Tilapia fish swimming

You might have heard this so-wrong-it’s-funny myth on social media (yikes), along with other untrue statements like it “doesn’t have skin and bones” and “can’t be overcooked”. Please, please don’t fall for that last one—you will end up with a lot of very charred Tilapia if you do. Though Tilapia, like many other species, can be found in fish farms , it actually hails from the Middle East and Africa.

Myth: The Cholesterol in Eggs is Bad For You

Truth: Some people will go as far as saying that the level of cholesterol found in egg yolks can put you at an increased risk of having a heart attack, but that’s not entirely true—it only applies to people with diabetes or pre-existing heart conditions. Bad cholesterol is more likely to come from saturated fats or trans fats (not to be confused with the good fats we talk about above). The average person can safely consume an egg every day and not feel any adverse effects. In fact, eggs are actually a great source of protein for some pescatarians and vegetarians.

Myth: You Shouldn’t Eat After 8pm

Woman looking through a fridge at night

Calories are calories are calories are calories. It doesn’t matter when you consume them. It’s not that eating late at night is worse for you, it’s just that late-night snacks are usually non-necessary nutrients eaten to satisfy a craving rather than out of actual hunger needs. Bedtime “snacks” are often unhealthy (like chips, candy or baked goods) and are eaten in large amounts. That’s where the weight gain comes from. If you need a midnight snack, go for it. Just make sure you’re eating reasonable portions of healthy foods, like fruits and vegetables, and pay close attention to when you start to feel full.

Myth: Juice Cleanses Clean Out Toxins

Truth: Not only can lengthy juice cleanses be dangerous, but they definitely don’t clean out unspecified “toxins” from your body. It’s not that toxins don’t exist—doctors acknowledge that certain things can harm the body—it’s just that fad juice diets aren’t the way to combat them. Your liver actually does most of the heavy lifting, processing things that can have a negative impact (like alcohol). Anything containing hefty amounts of fruit and vegetables can promote good health, but a smoothie is a much better option than a juice. Why? It retains the fiber of the produce and fills you up more.

Food myths can be problematic. They encourage people to make poor choices based on false information. Whenever you hear about a new food fad or tip, do your research and make sure it’s legitimate first.

For more mythbusting, check out our story about why the internet hates Tilapia. Remember: just because something is spread on Facebook, doesn’t make it true.

Photo Credits: Rawpixel / Shutterstock Inc., Piriya Gutsch / Shutterstock Inc., Africa Studio / Shutterstock Inc.