15 Whacky Food Facts

Ready to be armed with ridiculous food trivia for your next party? Some of these may ACTUALLY blow your mind, prepare yourself.

Let’s get straight into it!

(1) Black Licorice & High Blood Pressure?!

I think I’m at risk of this one because I have a slight obsession with black licorice. Black licorice contains glycyrrhizic acid which mimics one of the body’s hormones (aldosterone) which regulates blood pressure. So excessive black licorice or licorice root consumption (often found in teas) can lead to raised blood pressure through reducing blood levels of potassium and increasing sodium, crazy!

(2) What is that Pineapple Burn?

Bromelain is the naturally-occurring enzyme found in pineapples, which is responsible for that weird tongue feeling you get after eating some delicious yellow sunshine-y fruit. Well that’s because bromelain is a protein-digesting enzyme, which means the pineapple is literally eating you back!

Revenge of the pineapples!

(3) Orange wasn’t always the most popular carrot colour

The orange carrot came into popularity when they were bred in the Netherlands in the 17th Century for William of Orange who advocated for Independence. Nowadays, purple and white carrots are considered “exotic”, but these were the norm just like yellow, red & green capsicums.

And yes, too many orange carrots can send your skin a slight tinge of orange (it may be cheaper than a spray tan though…) – I’m kidding! Please don’t try that at home!

(4) Honey never spoils (like, ever)

Honey has essentially an endless shelf-life. This is because of the extremely low water content, this makes it very difficult for bacteria, fungi and other nasties to survive and therefore produce fermentation products from the sugar in the honey, which would ultimately lead to spoilage.

The high sugar content (whilst is food for the bugs) also helps preserve honey, just watch out for the ants getting to your sweet bee nectar!

(5) Fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth

Yes, it’s a real phobia and it’s called – Arachibutyrophobia. That must be the sound you make when peanut butter is stuck to the roof of your mouth and your wailing for help…

(6) All fruits ARE vegetables

Yep, it’s true!

And some vegetables are actually fruits. Riddle me that!

Okay, so vegetables are defined as “edible plant material” which means what we know as, vegetables, fruits and herbs are classified as “vegetables”. And some veggies are considered “fruiting vegetables” such as tomatoes, avocadoes & capsicums. Mind blown?

AND, in Australia legumes & beans are classified as vegetables too!

Nonetheless, 2 serves of actual fruit and 5-7 serves of actual veg (includes fruiting veg) every day, is what we need as a guide for optimal health.

(7) Hating coriander is genetic

You may have heard of this one before, but if coriander tastes like soap to you, you may have a genetic variation that’s to blame.

This genetic variation called a single nucleotide polymorphism (or SNP, pronounced SNIP) at the OR6A2 gene, affects about 10-20% of people. Specifically, it changes how you smell coriander from “fresh” and “green” to “soapy”, and smell has an extremely important role in flavour (which is why you can’t taste much when your nose is blocked).

Blame those genes the next time you reject a dish doused in that pesky green herb, coriander. FYI, I love coriander!

(8) Raw fish breaks down vitamin B1

Uncooked fish contains a specific enzyme called thiaminase which goes around and breaks down thiamin (vitamin B1) in the body. In some Asian countries where raw fish consumption is very high, B1 deficiency can occur which is particularly problematic for pregnant women and their children.

Don’t be afraid of some raw fish now and then, but including some cooked fish and sources of vitamin B1 from breads & cereals is also a good idea too!

(9) Deadly Nutmeg?

Approximately 2-3 teaspoons of nutmeg can cause toxicity and result in convulsions and even death! That is a relatively small dose, use sparingly to get that earthy & nutty flavour without an unintended trip to the emergency room.

(10) Cassava

Cassava is one of the world’s most consumed starchy root vegetables (following rice & corn). Naturally found in cassava are cyanogenic compounds, that can form cyanide in the body and lead to poisoning!

So how do all the people that eat cassava survive? Well first choosing the sweet cassava over it’s bitter sibling will reduce the cyanogenic content and secondly, peeling and thoroughly cooking or soaking the cassava allows for the compound to either leech out or escape during cooking!

(11) Olestra in Pringles

Back in the ’90s, Pringles got on the “fat-free” craze and brought out their “fat-free” Pringles.

What they didn’t tell you was that they used a fat substitute called Olestra.

Excessive consumption of Olestra (Pringles are addictive, folks!) causes an express route for fat to move through the body (and you guessed it) into the toilet, known as steatorrhea. So after a number of people experienced some unpleasant bathroom situations… they quickly disappeared from the market.

(12) Feta Fights

We Greeks take our feta seriously, so when there was trouble differentiating between Danish & Greek Feta, of course, the EU had to get involved.

It was decided that Greek feta had to be made (by law) exclusively of sheep’s and/or goat’s milks (there’s specific percentages allowed), whilst Danish feta is made with cow’s milk leading to a smoother consistency.

(13) Brassica Veggies

Cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, kale, broccoli & turnips are all part of the Brassica veg family.

When eaten raw is HUGE volumes (I mean excessive amounts), they can cause goitre (i.e. enlargement of thyroid) due to the presence of goitrogens in these veggies. Goitrogens affect the thyroid gland by disrupting iodine uptake for thyroid hormone synthesis!

Like I said, you’d need to eat outrageous volumes so enjoy they are extraordinarily healthful vegetables.

(14) Refrigerating Tomatoes Ruins their Flavour!

Do you refrigerate your tomatoes? Well, you shouldn’t according to science, because it makes them utterly tasteless!

For a tropical fruit, like the tomato, chilling reduces the activity of a number of genes which is believed to be the reason why they taste permanently tasteless even when returned to room temperature.

(15) Glass-bottled Milk

Anybody else remember their parents talking about how the milk man used to deliver glass bottles of milk to their door? I used to wonder about them spoiling outside in the Aussie heat, but there’s another reason why this practice was left in the last century.

Milk contains vitamin B2 (riboflavin) which is particularly light-sensitive. Those glass bottles being exposed to UV light from the sun led to a significant loss (about 50% in one day) of riboflavin content in the milk!

Okay, I talked a lot about how regular healthy foods can cause problems. I just want to remind you that everything is toxic (including water & oxygen), it is just purely dependent on the dose! This is the most important part of understanding food toxicity and just a friendly reminder that just because something doesn’t deliver optimal health outcomes (e.g. sugar) doesn’t make it “toxic” at a 1 teaspoon dosage.