Did Carrots Really Help British Fighter Pilots See Better in WWII?

The fact and fiction of six performance-enhancing foods

By Reuben Brody

Did Carrots Really Help Fighter Pilots See Better in WWII?
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01 June 2016

The British aren’t much for boasting.

During WWII, they ran advertisements crediting carrots for the success of their bombing campaigns. Their pilots ate lots of carrots, the story goes, and thus could see better at night than their Nazi counterparts.

Turns out they just had invented radar. Root vegetables had little to do with it.

However, carrots do indeed improve eyesight, because as the body breaks down beta-carotene, it creates Vitamin A, which strengthens eyeballs. In fact, around 250,000-300,000 people lose their eyesight each year from a Vitamin A deficiency.

But carrots aren’t the only answer: Vitamin A can also be found in leafy greens and even rice.

Here are five more food myths from your childhood that bear fruit.  

Milk will help you grow, but at a cost
So milk might make you taller, or rather, it’ll help you develop the proteins that contribute to height. But it’ll take a toll, as well, with an increased chance of cancer, and, for women, the prospect of menstruating earlier on in development.

Spinach will make you strong like Popeye
Spinach contains a small amount of nitrate, small being the operative word here — too much nitrate is a bad thing (think processed meats). You should get 80 percent of your nitrates from vegetables, spinach being the best source. Cell growth and energy creation takes place within the mitochondria, and small amounts of nitrates ensure that process is efficient. Translation: your body uses less energy to grow stronger — just like when Popeye pops a biceps boner after a single can of the green stuff.

Coca Cola will cure my stomach ache
Yes and no. Yes if you have gastric phytobezoar, a blockage that occurs due to eating too many fruits or veggies that are difficult for your body to break down (persimmons, for example). But otherwise — nausea, acid reflux, etc. — you’re not doing your body any favors.

Eating broccoli will clean your system out
Surprisingly, yes. A recent study of more than 300 Chinese citizens found that the by drinking broccoli sprouts, they rid their bodies of benzene and acrolein, two toxic chemicals found in smoggy conditions.

Apples are nature’s toothbrush
Sorta. It’s not as simple as eat an apple and don’t brush your teeth. Chewing an apple will strengthen your teeth and gums, and it’ll improve the pH in your stomach, which will in turn keep your insides smelling fresh. However, apples don’t clean grime and grit from your teeth, nor do they dislodge small bits of food from between your chompers. In fact, they’re high in sugar and acid, which are bad for teeth. Do eat apples; don’t forget to floss and brush after.

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