1 – An apple a day keeps the doctor away
A 2011 study found that consumption of apples and pears might prevent strokes. A 2012 study found that apple consumption significantly lowered bad cholesterol levels in middle-aged adults. In 2013, the BMJ published a study as part of its humorous Christmas issue comparing the effects of prescribing everyone in the UK over age 50 either an apple or a statin a day. The study concluded that both interventions would be similarly effective.
A 2015 study looked directly at the relationship between apple consumption and physician visits and found no evidence that the proverb was true. The study did, however, find that people who ate an apple a day did use fewer prescription medications.
However, a 2011 study found that adding one ‘Golden Delicious’ apple to the daily diet of a small group of overweight men led to higher levels of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. The higher sugar and low-phenolic content of ‘Golden Delicious’ apples was blamed for the results
2 – Are carrots really good for your eyesight?
You’ve probably heard the myth that eating lots of carrots will magically improve your vision. The bad news is that it’s a total lie. The good news? It’s one that helped the Allies defeat the Nazis.
Here’s the truth: Carrots are rich in beta carotene (Vitamin A), and thus, eating lots of carrots helps promote good eye health. That’s a different thing entirely from vision; pumping yourself full of Vitamin A doesn’t bring you any closer to 20/20 than doing push-ups all day would.
So why do we think carrots help us see better? Smithsonian Magazine reports the theory of John Stolarczyk, curator of the World Carrot Museum (Yes! It exists). According to Stolarczyk, the myth began during World War II, when the Nazis were bombing the bejeezus out of London at night. Then, seemingly out of no where, the British Royal Air Force started shooting down more Nazi planes. How did they do it? With the help of a new radar that the RAF, of course, did not want anybody to know about. Smithsonian explains:
The Royal Air Force were able to repel the German fighters in part because of the development of a new, secret radar technology. The on-board Airborne Interception Radar (AI), first used by the RAF in 1939, had the ability to pinpoint enemy bombers before they reached the English Channel. But to keep that under wraps, according to Stolarczyk’s research pulled from the files of the Imperial War Museum, the Mass Observation Archive, and the UK National Archives, the Ministry provided another reason for their success: carrots.
When the papers asked how pilots where shooting down planes in the dark, the RAF simply responded that pilots had been hitting their root veggies hard. A bold-faced lie! But one that helped save London—and the world—from Nazi tyranny.
3- You’ll Go Blind: Does Watching Television Close-Up Really Harm Eyesight?
It seems the worst effects are not on one’s eyes, and may come from watching too much television, no matter what the distance to the screen
Dear EarthTalk: Years ago I read that children should be kept at least two feet from the television because of harmful electronic emissions. Is this still relevant? Is there a difference regarding this between older and new flat-screen models?
—Horst E. Mehring, Oconomowoc, Wisc.
Luckily for many of us and our kids, sitting “too” close to the TV isn’t known to cause any human health issues. This myth prevails because back in the 1960s General Electric sold some new-fangled color TV sets that emitted excessive amounts of radiation—as much as 100,000 times more than federal health officials considered safe. GE quickly recalled and repaired the faulty TVs, but the stigma lingers to this day.
But even though electronic emissions aren’t an issue with TVs made any time after 1968 (including today’s LCD and plasma flat screens), what about causing harm to one’s vision? Dr. Lee Duffner of the American Academy of Ophthalmology isn’t concerned, maintaining that watching television screens—close-up or otherwise—“won’t cause any physical damage to your eyes.” He adds, however, that a lot of TV watching can surely cause eye strain and fatigue, particularly for those sitting very close and/or watching from odd angles. But there is an easy cure for eye strain and fatigue: turning off the TV and getting some rest. With a good night’s sleep, tired eyes should quickly return to normal.
Debra Ronca, a contributor to the How Stuff Works website, argues that some parents might be putting the cart before the horse in blaming close-up TV watching for their child’s vision issues. “Sitting close to the television may not make a child nearsighted, but a child may sit close to the television because he or she is nearsighted and undiagnosed,” she reports. “If your child habitually sits too close to the television for comfort, get his or her eyes tested.”
Of course, excessive TV viewing by kids can cause health problems indirectly. According to the Nemours Foundation’s KidsHealth website, children who consistently watch TV more than four hours a day are more likely to be overweight, which in and of itself can bring about health problems later. Also, kids who watch a lot of TV are more likely to copy bad behavior they see on-screen and tend to “fear that the world is scary and that something bad will happen to them.” Nemours also finds that TV characters often depict risky behaviors (like smoking and drinking) and also tend to reinforce gender-role and racial stereotypes.
There has also been much debate in recent years on the effects of TV viewing on infants. A 2007 Seattle Children’s Research Institute study found that for every hour per day infants spent watching baby DVDs and videos they learned six to eight fewer new vocabulary words than babies who never watched the videos. But a 2009 study by the Center on Media & Child Health at Children’s Hospital Boston found no negative cognitive or other impacts whatsoever on those infants exposed to more television than less.
While it may be inevitable that your kids will watch TV, the key, experts say, is moderation. Limit kids’ exposure to screens of any kind, and monitor what they are allowed to watch. As KidsHealth points out, parents should teach their kids that the TV is “for occasional entertainment, not for constant escapism.”