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The myths around healthy food and misconceptions about what actually is healthy are as numerous as the "super foods" which have been promised to cure every ailment. Whether honest misconceptions about healthy food or profit-driven healthy food myths, you'll learn facts about artificial sweeteners and buzzwords like "natural."

Misconceptions is a weekly show where we debunk common misconceptions. This week, Elliott discusses some misconceptions about health food!

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Elliott: Hi I'm Elliott and this is Mental Floss on YouTube. Today I'm going to talk about some misconceptions about health food.

*intro music*

E: Misconception number one: People who only eat raw food have better digestion.
It turns out your body is pretty good at digesting regardless of whether the vegetables you're eating are cooked or raw. Some believe that since cooked foods lose some nutrients and enzymes that raw food must have all proper enzymes that aid digestion.
Some of a plant's enzymes do go away when they're cooked at a temperature over one hundred and eighteen degrees Fahrenheit, but by the time the enzymes in raw food arrive at the stomach, they've pretty much all broken down. So they don't have too much of an impact.

Misconception number two: Dark bread is healthier than white bread.
Actually, a lot of brown breads are made with the exact same white flour that white bread's made with. Sometimes they're dyed with things like molasses or caramels. So, if it just says "wheat" on the package that doesn't necessarily make it any healthier because almost all varieties of bread have wheat in them.
If you're shopping for healthy bread, what you want to look for is one hundred percent whole-wheat or whole-grain wheat. This means you get the extra fiber you want and need.

Misconception number three: Artificial sweeteners promote weight loss.
If you look at it logically, they do. Artificial sweeteners like Splenda contain no calories. So if you're looking to reduce calories in your diet they're a good replacement for regular sugar which has around sixteen calories per teaspoon.
But some studies have revealed that artificial sweeteners are correlated with weight gain in people though experts still aren't sure exactly why.
For instance the San Antonio heart study observed over three thousand five hundred adults for about eight years in the eighties. They found that the more artificially sweetened beverages a person drank, the more their BMI tended to rise.
This echoed the results of another study conducted in the eighties by the American Cancer Society. They followed almost eighty thousand women- creepy *chuckles*- and noticed that within a year more artificial sweetener consumers gained weight compared with the rest of the women.

Misconception number four: If a food label says "natural", it's good for you. In the U.S. pretty much any food can have the word "natural" on its packaging because the FDA hasn't set any guidelines for the word. According to their website:
   "From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is 'natural' because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, the FDA has not developed a definition for the use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances".
And that's why you see products like "Natural Cheetos".

Speaking of natural foods, misconception number five: Agave nectar is better for you than sugar.
Some people prefer agave to other sweeteners because it's considered more natural. But it turns out that it actually contains more fructose than any other sweetener including high fructose corn syrup.
Agave has a fructose content of fifty-five to ninety-seven percent and high fructose corn syrup products average about fifty-five percent.
This is notable because some studies indicate that fructose increases the risk of liver damage and cardiovascular disease; although this still needs to be studies more.
Agave also has more calories than sugar. There are sixty calories in a tablespoon of agave and around forty in a tablespoon of sugar. Though why you'd want just a tablespoon of sugar, I have no idea.

Misconception number six: Margarine is always better for you than butter.
So as a general rule, experts say that margarine is better because it has more "good fats" than butter so it contains ingredients that reduce LDL, aka bad cholesterol and butter actually contains cholesterol but if the health content of your margarine is important to you don't just grab the first one you see at the store.

Some margarine's contain trans fat, which is not ideal. Trans fat actually lowers HDL, aka good cholesterol. A good rule of thumb is going for tub margarine rather than stick margarine.

Misconception number seven: Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs.
The color of eggs has little to do with nutritional content. In fact it's really only affected by the genetics of the hen who laid it. Some lay brown eggs and others lay white eggs. Regardless of the color an egg will contain around 70 calories and 6 grams of protein. 

Which brings me to misconception number eight: Brown sugar is healthier than white sugar.
Not true! Brown sugar is basically white sugar it's just the molasses is removed in the process of making white sugar. But brown sugar includes molasses so it does have a few different minerals like calcium and potassium but not enough to really be advantageous. It also has about the same calorie content as white sugar.

Misconception number 9: "Local" means "organic".
According to one survey 23% of Americans and Canadians believed that local food means the same thing as organic food. That is not true. In fact the FDA doesn't regulate the word local on food labels so that a product could be from somewhere like, I don't know, 400 miles away. 1,000 miles maybe. 2,000. I could keep going!

Misconception number 10: Organic foods have more nutrients.

In 2014 research published in the British Journal of Nutrition examined 343 studies of organic and non-organic food.  The authors found that vegetables whether organic or regular had around the same levels of most nutrients, like vitamin C and vitamin E. They did note that organic foods contain more anti-oxidants though. So, that's a good reason to keep eating organic.

Hey! Thank you for watching Misconceptions on Mental_floss on YouTube which is made with the help of all these nice people. If you have a topic for an upcoming Misconceptions video that you would like to see, why don't you just leave it in the comments. And I'll see you next week! Bye!