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The Truth Behind These Food Myths

We've all heard a lot of odd myths about food, like, "Carrots can help you see in the dark," and "Don't eat watermelon seeds, or one'll grow in your stomach!" Are any of them true? Let's look at the facts:

Let's start with the watermelon seed. That's False. Without oxygen, sunlight, and a lot more time, no seed in your stomach will sprout - let alone grow to full size. In fact, watermelon seeds are a good source of potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and B vitamins, as long as you chew them. A lot of people toast and eat them the same way they do pumpkin seeds.

The next food myth: Eating carrots improves your eyesight, and helps you see in the dark. True and False. Carrots are good for your eyes, but the myth about nighttime sight started during World War Two when the British government didn't want Germany to know they had developed radar to help them shoot down enemy planes. So, they planted stories in the papers about a pilot who credited his fighter-pilot skills to his love of carrots packed with Vitamin A and beta-carotene.

Another food myth: Bread crust will turn your hair curly. That's False. The foods you eat have no effect on how straight or curly your hair is. Here's a fact: Most of the nutrients in bread are in the crust. Researchers in Germany found that bread crust has more fiber, and eight times more cancer-fighting compounds than the rest of the loaf.

So, does eating cheese before bed cause nightmares? Not really. The myth comes from Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol, where Scrooge blames his nocturnal visitations on eating "a crumb of cheese" before bed. However, researchers gave 200 people cheese every night before bed, and found no increase in nightmares.

The final food myth: Spinach will give you muscles like Popeye. False. Spinach was originally picked as Popeye's power source because of a study that mistakenly said it had 10 times more iron than it actually does. By the time the mistake was corrected in 1937, Popeye had already been gorging on the stuff for years. However, spinach contains vitamins and antioxidants that can lower your cholesterol, reduce your risk of osteoporosis, cancer, and heart disease, and prevent the effects of aging on your brain.