True story: A good friend, someone I consider pretty savvy about health, diet, and wellness, recently e-mailed me and asked if eating celery will help you lose weight (something about it being a negative-calorie food). As far as rumors go, this one was pretty tame, but in some cases misinformation can be downright dangerous. Plus, whatever their origin, health "hearsays" like these can cause unnecessary anxiety and distract you from habits that truly deserve your time and energy. Here, eight common watercooler myths, and what's true, what's misunderstood, and what's just downright wrong.
1.) Baby carrots are preserved with bleach
Not exactly... and there's no reason to stop eating them, says Randy Worobo, PhD, an associate professor of food microbiology at Cornell University. Baby carrots are rinsed (not preserved) in a chlorine wash, recommended by the FDA, to kill bacteria like salmonella and E. coli, which cause foodborne illness. Most precut produce, including frozen veggies and fruit salad, is washed with this or a similar sanitizer.
7 tips for a healthier, safer kitchen
2.) Working out on an empty stomach burns more fat
It does, but don't expect any fat-melting miracles. When you exercise, your body burns calories from both fat and carbohydrates. Recent studies show that working out on an empty stomach might burn a few more fat calories since you don't have as many carb calories to spare, but overall calorie burn is about the same. And, based on research so far, that's what really counts when it comes to fitting into a smaller size.Don't let these workout mistakes slow you down
3.) Eating too much sugar causes diabetes
Not in the same smoking-gun way that cigarettes cause cancer, but research shows that sugar may play a part-and it's smart to limit your intake. First and foremost, being overweight does increase your risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and consuming too much sugar can contribute to weight gain. Still, some emerging research suggests that excess sugar intake can increase diabetes risk regardless of weight. A landmark JAMA study found that women nearly doubled their diabetes risk when they increased the number of sugar-added drinks they consumed from one or fewer a week to one or more per day over a 4-year period.12 ways to never get diabetes
4.) Does Listerine mouthwash help keep mosquitoes away?
No. Although Internet postings swear it's true, scientists beg to differ. Our research has found that people who sprayed Listerine on their arms were just as likely to be bitten as those who didn't use any repellent, says Grayson Brown, PhD, a University of Kentucky public health entomologist. The myth persists thanks to a strong placebo effect and because Listerine has eucalyptol, an ingredient found in some botanical bug sprays. But the concentration in mouthwash (less than 1%) is too low to have an impact.
5.) Spicy foods boost metabolism
I wish! Your metabolic rate is determined by your gender, height, present weight/body composition, and age. These factors determine the amount of calories the body will burn to maintain the basic functions of life that occur even when we sleep-the energy used by the heart, brain, lungs, intestines, etc. Eating spicy foods cannot significantly increase metabolic rate and help you burn more calories at rest. Although your body temperature may temporarily rise and your heart may beat a bit faster after eating "hot" foods, over the long term spices will not make any changes in the rate of metabolism.21 tips to help you boost your metabolism
6.) Liquid eyeliner causes sinus infections
This rumor presumes that eyeliner is able to drain into the sinuses, get trapped, and cause an infection, but that's not possible, says Richard Rosenfeld, MD, chairman of otolaryngology at Long Island College Hospital. Your natural tearing process can funnel bits of makeup into the tear ducts, but they drain into the nose and out the nostrils. If you develop eye irritation and sinus symptoms after wearing eyeliner, you probably had an allergic reaction.100 easy anti-aging beauty tricks
7.) It's safe to follow the 5-second rule for dropped food
It's probably not even safe to follow a 1-second rule: The transfer of bacteria from a contaminated surface to food is almost instantaneous-or, at the very least, quicker than your reflexes. In one study, Clemson University food scientist Paul Dawson, PhD, and students contaminated several surfaces (ceramic tile, wood flooring, and carpet) with salmonella. They then dropped pieces of bologna and slices of bread on the surfaces for as little as 5 seconds and as long as 60 seconds. After just 5 seconds, both food types had already picked up as many as 1,800 bacteria (more bad bugs adhered to the moisture-rich bologna than the bread); after a full minute, it was up to 10 times that amount.See the 10 worst germ hot spots in your home
8.) Can cracking your knuckles cause arthritis?
Nope. If you're suffering from osteoarthritis in your hands, it certainly has nothing to do with this nervous tic. One study at the former Mount Carmel Mercy Hospital in Detroit compared 74 people (ages 45 and older) who had been chronic knuckle crackers for decades with 226 who always left their hands alone; researchers found no difference in the incidence of osteoarthritis between the two groups. But there are reasons to stop this annoying habit: The same study found knuckle crackers to be far more likely to have weaker grip strength and greater hand swelling, both of which can limit dexterity. As for osteoarthritis, that's more likely due to genetics and increasing age.Break your bad habits today. Here's how.
More Quirky Health Facts from Prevention:
19 Bizarre Home Cures That Really Work
13 Odd Body Quirks Explained
Your Body's 10 Weirdest Health Clues
8 Weird Health Tricks from Your Hands
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