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Is the Microwave Evil? Are Egg Yolks the Devil? See What Science Says About These and More

Will microwaving food cause cancer? Are eggs bad for your cholesterol level? Is Shisha healthier than cigarettes? Learn the truth about these and more:

In the world of health and wellness, confusion runs amok. In our previous article, we talked about why there are so many misconceptions about health and nutrition. This time, we’ve chosen five of the most widely circulated concepts about health and dug around for the truth. What we found was fascinating:

Myth #1: Eggs are bad for your heart because they’ll cause you to have high cholesterol

Source: malpractice.burgsimpson.com

Source: malpractice.burgsimpson.com

People avoid eating eggs because apparently egg yolks are the devil and will cause your cholesterol levels to spike. Well, it’s true that egg yolks do contain a large amount of cholesterol. A large egg comes with 211mg of cholesterol, which is about 70% of your daily value. If you eat a large two-egg omelette, you’re already waaay past your recommended daily cholesterol limit. That’ll definitely cause your cholesterol level to rise, right? But that’s not the whole story.

What Science Says

Research has shown that the cholesterol you eat doesn’t really affect the cholesterol level in your blood.

Why? Your body produces its own cholesterol, and when you eat more cholesterol, your body responds by producing less. (Source: 1, 2) Simple as that. In fact, research goes as far as to say that eating eggs daily have very little to do with cholesterol problems or heart disease.

Egg are also rich in several essential nutrients your body needs to function (like protein, vitamin D, vitamin B12, selenium, and choline, a brain nutrient that most people are lacking in) .

The Bottom Line

Most research done has tested people with up to 3 eggs daily, so you can eat up to 3 eggs daily knowing science stands behind you.

Unless you have a genetic disorder / diabetes, eating eggs daily will not cause heart disease or stroke and can actually be very good for your health.

With that said, you should still pay attention to how you prepare your eggs, because if you deep fry it in a vat of oil, even superfoods can become super bad for you.

Myth #2: Shisha is healthier than cigarettes 

Source: wallpea.com

Source: wallpea.com

Cigarettes come with a distinct scent of ashtrays, and that does the job of reminding people how bad smoking cigarettes are for you. Then comes the cheerful cousin of the cigarette – shisha.
Its fruity aroma is cheerful and happy, making anyone who catches a whiff of it dance with joy. This gives off the impression that shisha is much better than cigarettes, healthwise. And so you see many people who would normally turn their noses on cigarettes lounging around cafes and mamaks sucking on shisha pipes.

What Science Says

According to a study done by the World Health Organisation, by having an hour-long session with your mates smoking shisha, you’re inhaling the smoke of not one, not two, but 100-200 cigarettes!
Besides that, the smoke produced contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals.
That’s not all. The charcoal used to burn the tobacco will probably also do its part to worsen your health due to the fuels producing their own toxicants. AND there’s second-hand smoke here as well, which will put non-smokers at risk too.

The Bottom Line

Don’t smoke anything, no matter how good it smells. Steer clear of all second-hand smoke, be it shisha or cigarette. They might be fun in the short run, but remember that they’re slowly killing your lungs.

Myth #3: Vitamins and supplements are great for your health 

Source: buzzle.com

Source: buzzle.com

The general belief is that if you take vitamins and supplements, you’re upping your immunity against diseases and bad health. Since every pharmacy is stocked with vitamins, supplements, and mega-multi-vitamins, it has to be true right? Otherwise how can they sell so much of it? And how can taking extra nutrients that your body needs anyway be bad for your body? Fruits and vegetables are good for you right? They are rich in antioxidants, so obviously eating supplemental antioxidants should also make you healthier!

What Science Says

Let’s list out some studies proving otherwise.
  • The National Cancer Institute studied 29,000 Finnish men for 5 to 8 years, all long-term smokers and older than 50, and gave some of them vitamin E and beta-carotene, and some of them nothing. The results? Those who took vitamins and supplements were more likely to die from lung cancer or heart disease.
  • An updated final analysis of the Selenium and Vitamin E Cancer Prevention Trial (SELECT) which ran for an average of 7 years showed that, compared to placebo, vitamin E alone increased the risk of developing prostate cancer in otherwise healthy men by 17%.
  • This article points out many many more researches that have shown those who popped supplements and vitamins dying at a higher rate than those who didn’t. 

The Bottom Line

Vitamins are very useful for those with nutrient deficiencies and mal-absorption problems. So unless you have been diagnosed, there really is no reason for you to turn to multivitamins or supplements to get “healthier”. Choosing to eat a balanced diet, hydrate always, exercise often, and get enough sleep will do much more for your health than vitamins. 

Myth #4: Microwaving my food destroys the nutrients and gives me cancer

Source: movingtowardspeace.com

Source: movingtowardspeace.com

To my shock and horror, my mother threw away our microwave one day, claiming that it has radioactive rays and will give us cancer. Okay. I’ll sacrifice convenience for a longer, healthier life, sure. My mom isn’t the only person who believes that microwaving food is bad for you. You’ve probably seen the article on how microwaving water and feeding it to plants eventually kills it. There are tons of articles like these online telling you to stay away from the evil microwave.

What Science Says

Actually, according to science, the truth about microwaves is exactly the opposite of what we thought.

Microwaving food is actually the same, or perhaps even better way of retaining nutrients in your food. Why? Basically when exposed to heat and water, regardless of its source (stove top, oven, etc), food loses its nutrients. The longer it’s exposed to high heat, the more the nutrients are depleted.

Microwave ovens usually use a very short amount of time to cook or heat up food, and thus, the food is exposed to heat for a shorter duration. In fact, boiling your veggies causes it to lose much more of its antioxidant activity compared to microwave cooking as the nutrients leach off into the water.

Does cooking / heating food with the microwave oven cause cancer? So far, there is no evidence proving that microwaves release enough radiation to actually damage your body.  The American Cancer Society, University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center Cancer Research UK, as well as the Harvard Medical School stand by this. 

Why? Let’s understand how a microwave oven works first. A microwave oven cooks food with radiation. These waves of radiation vibrate the water molecules in your food, which heats it up and cooks the food.

People hear “radiation” and immediately start freaking out and think Hiroshima, nuclear bombs and the like. However, the term “radiation” just means the release of energy (regardless of source), and there are different types of radiation.

Ionising radiation is the one that you fear, which can chemically change how your cell works. The microwave uses non ionising radiation, which has enough energy to move things around inside a cell, but isn’t strong enough to change cells chemically. Your computer, radio waves, heaters and other household appliances all release non ionising radiation. Learn more about radiation here.

Also, numerous people have done the same experiment of feeding microwaved water to their plants. The results? All plants are still healthy and very much alive.

This video tells you exactly how microwaves work:

The Bottom Line

Microwaving your food is perfectly fine. Although, it’s good to take note that different cooking methods affect your food in different ways. For example, boiling carrots increases its carotenoid content, while steaming and frying reduces it. Celery increases its antioxidant capacity in all cooking methods (microwaving, pressure-cooking, griddling, frying, and baking) except boiling.
Nutrition is complex, and there’s no best or worst way of preparing food. With that said, food does go all soggy and tasteless in the microwave, so while it doesn’t really affect the nutrients in your food, microwave cooking is just blah for the taste buds.

Myth #5: You gain weight if you eat after 8pm

Source: howtomanguide.com
Source: howtomanguide.com

I remember my mom berating me for having my dinners at 9pm (after suffering the jam home from work). She’d go “wah, you’re going to gain so much weight if you eat so late lah!” while I munched on my rice and veggies. According to her, and numerous other people, your metabolism slows down at night and you process food much slower, which leads to weight gain. Makes sense, doesn’t it? Not so fast.

What Science Says

It all boils down to how much calories you’re taking in, and how much you’re burning . Whether you eat these calories before or after 8pm makes little difference in your body. Your body also expends energy while you’re resting, and this is called your basal metabolic rate (BMR), the more active you are, the higher your BMR.

The problem is, people who eat later in the night tend to consume more calories than they need. I’m talking about you, TV-watcher and chips-muncher. Or you, who waited till you were starving before getting dinner, hence have ordered the largest portion available.

People who eat late at night also commonly eat out of boredom, which means piling on extra calories that wasn’t essential to begin with. This study on monkeysthis interview with spokesperson for the Dietitians’ Association of Australia, as well as this study on humans prove the theory that eating after 8pm won’t cause your weight to skyrocket.

The Bottom Line

While the timing of when you eat generally does not affect weight gain, it’s still not a good idea to wait till late evening to pile on the calories. People who eat at night tend to make unwise decisions for their meal choices.

Your stomach, brain, and body’s digestive machinery also need a break from managing incoming fuel. Your organs need time to rest and recuperate from its daily tasks. If you keep stuffing yourself way past midnight and wake up at 6am, where do they get the time to do that?

So, watch your calorie and nutrient intake and make sure you do your daily exercise so you expend more energy than you’re taking in. And no mindless munching on snacks like chips, caramel popcorn, and whatnot in front of the telly. Also, do note that while the studies prove that late night eating will not cause weight gain, one study found that those who eat later at night need more to be satiated. Something to ponder upon.

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So, what do you think about these? Is science right, or wrong? Do you have newer research to share with us? Discuss with us in the comments below or on our Facebook page!

 

Written by: Jolene Foo
A writer with a penchant for alliteration, Jolene is also a seaweed and green tea junkie in a love/hate relationship with working out. She likes reading everything, from cereal boxes to tombstone inscriptions, and trying to find meaning behind the words.

2 COMMENTS

  1. With regards to microwaving. , your research might be better if you checked the dna and molecular contents of the microwaved foods before and after microwaving the food items. Strong non ionising radiation may well be strong enough to change molecular bonds and nutrient contents ?

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