Top food myths Brits believe to be true

It seems that eating celery does not burn more calories than you take in – but it must be a close call

There are many misconceptions surrounding food and drink and there is no shortage of stories filling our media about what is – and isn’t – good for you. It is very difficult at times to know what you can believe.

For example, there are those who will say that red wine, in moderation, is good for the heart. It’s the in moderation bit that always gets me. I assume the experts are not saying you should get a bottle down you on your own each evening.

I am not a greater lover of red wine. It takes all sorts. But I would concede that people who grow up in wine-producing regions appear a darn sight healthier than we Londoners. Note the emphasis on the word “appear”.

Deciding what is true is no simple task. And it is made no easier when you add into the mix some of the myths instilled in us at an early age.

There’s many an old wives’ tale handed down to us by, well, old wives – namely our mums. Keen to get to the bottom of this, in partnership with Hotpoint, polled 2,000 people to reveal the top old wives’ tales that Brits believe to be true when it comes to food.

What they discovered was that more than one-in-four (30%) said that they believe if an egg floats in water then its no longer safe or fresh to eat. This myth took the top spot on the list. It may be a myth, but it isn’t just mum telling you this. Check out the internet. It’s full of videos floating ideas of how to check egg freshness.

As, I say, it’s difficult to know what to believe.

The egg float myth was followed by 22% who believe it to be true that rice should never be reheated and a further 21% who said they think raw vegetables are better for you than cooked vegetables. I could have sworn this was true!

Is organic better than non-organic? You decide

One-in-six (17%) believe bread that is kept in the fridge lasts longer, followed closely behind by 15% who said they assume organic food is healthier than non-organic. If that is a myth, what are we paying extra for?

More than one-in-seven (13%) feel eating celery burns more calories than you gain by eating it, 12% said vinegar never goes off, and 11% said salt stops boiling eggs from cracking, while the same number (11%) also believe eating chicken soup cures a cold. Maybe it doesn’t, but it always made me feel better. Psychological, I guess.

Food dropped on the floor is fine to eat as long as you pick it up with three-five seconds, eating fish makes you smart and eating carrots helps you see in the dark all came in jointly in 10th place (10%). When I was a kid my mum used to trot out all sorts of ‘truisms’ in a bid to encourage me to eat vegetables. There was the carrot and sight one which was closely aligned to the spinach makes you strong story. Of course, she had the “backing” of Popeye for the later. If Popeye managed to get a can of spinach down him the big bully Bluto was easy to overcome.

When quizzed on where these beliefs have come from family has a large part to play as more than half (56%) saying it was mum and more than one-in-three (34%) revealed it was their grandparents.

The study also identified Brits’ cooking habits – just 24% said they cook with fresh ingredients every day at home and a little more than one-in-four (26%) cited a busy lifestyle as the main reason for stopping them cooking with fresh ingredients more often.

David Lawson, managing director of, said: “The research shows how many old wives’ tales we believe while growing up and it’s fair to say these influences mostly come from our family. What is surprising to see in the research though is how little people cook with fresh ingredients at home. There are so many cooking appliances to choose from to help make life that little bit easier and get people to enjoy cooking at home again.”

Catherine Balderson, senior brand manager of Hotpoint, said: “It is interesting to see from the data how many misconceptions we have when it comes to food. We want to encourage people to think about cooking at home in a whole new way. By stocking up on all of your favourite ingredients and making the most of what’s in your fridge you will be sure to easily rustle up a couple of dishes straight from the comfort of your own home for everyone in the family to enjoy.”

To recap, the top 10 food myths Brits believe to be true are:

1. If an egg floats in water, then it’s no longer safe or fresh to eat (30%)
2. Rice should never be reheated (22%)
3. Raw vegetables are better for you than cooked vegetables (21%)
4. Bread kept in the fridge lasts longer (17%)
5. Organic food is healthier than non-organic (15%)
6. Eating celery burns more calories than you gain by eating it (13%)
7. Vinegar never goes off (12%)
8= Salt stops boiling eggs from cracking (11%)
8= Chicken soup cures a cold (11%)
10= Food dropped on the floor is fine as long as you pick it up within three-five seconds (10%)
10= Eating fish makes you smart (10%)
10= Eating carrots helps you see in the dark (10%)

Next on the list was that microwaving vegetables makes them less nutritious (9%)

No mention of seeing in the dark, but a carrot story to conjure with
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David Buckley

Dave Buckley is a career journalist. “I once went painting girders for a week and discovered I didn’t like heights,” he says. “Apart from that it has always been journalism for me in one form or another.” Past publications worked for include the South-East London Mercury*, Kent Messenger, Daily Express, Today*, News of the World* and Hong Kong Star*. All those marked with an asterisk no longer exist (trend emerging?). He owned and edited a Thailand-based property magazine before returning to England and currently works as a production editor for an East Midlands-based publishing group.

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