Food & Nutrition

Brazil Nuts Aren’t Nuts (And 12 More Freaky Healthy-Food Facts)

There are certain... 'things' you don't know about the stuff that goes in your mouth

We live in a time where people are demanding to know where their food is sourced from, how it’s grown/made and what the exact nutrients contained within it are.

For those of you who are this way inclined, it may disturb you to learn there are probably quite a few healthy-food facts that you’ve been completely in the dark about…

1. Brazil nuts aren’t actually nuts

Yep, they’ve been blatantly lying to us this whole time. Why call them Brazil nuts if they aren’t even bloody nuts?

In order to be classified as a nut, a foodstuff has to have been grown underground. Brazil nuts actually come from trees – which makes them a seed, not a nut. Also, they mainly come from Bolivia, not Brazil. It’s all just been one big swizz, hasn’t it?

2. Ginger helps to ease muscle pain

Ginger’s ability to ease an upset stomach is well-documented – but its capacity to calm sore muscles is a more recent discovery. Ginger, a member of the same plant family as turmeric, contains anti-inflammatory compounds and volatile oils that help to ease the dreaded DOMs.

In a 2011 study published in The Journal of Pain, scientists recruited 74 adults and had them do exercises meant to induce muscle pain and inflammation. Over 11 days, the subjects ate either two grams of ginger a day, or a placebo. The ginger-eaters experienced 25% reductions in exercise-induced muscle pain 24 hours after their workouts.

3. Dried fruit is nowhere near as good for you as the real thing

Drying out fruit causes massive nutrient loss, stripping the original fruit of 30% to 80% of its vitamin and antioxidant content. Rather pointless then, isn’t it?

4. Blackberries, raspberries and strawberries aren’t even bloody berries

Professional food-namers really need to have a rethink. First Brazil nuts, now the ‘berry family.

This trio of ‘berries’ are actually aggregate fruits, forming from a flower that has many ovaries, the ovary being the part of the flower that will eventually develop and ripen into a fruit. ‘Straw-aggregate-fruit’ doesn’t sound quite as good though, does it?

5. But bananas and avocados are berries?!

Yep, seriously. It isn’t even just bananas and avocados – watermelons and pumpkins are officially berries too.

6. Free-range eggs aren’t just better because of the ethical factor

Free range eggs have one-third less cholesterol, one-quarter less saturated fat, double the omega-3s, and three times more vitamins than caged-hen eggs. (You’ll also feel a lot better about yourself when purchasing them, obviously.)

7. Experiencing a flood? Get the chia seeds out

Chia seeds are highly hydrophilic – they’re capable of absorbing nine to ten times their weight in water. So that’s where all that water goes whenever we try to cook them!

8. Gluten-free products come at a cost

 They might make you feel super-trendy and part of an exclusive club of bread-dodgers, but gluten-free products are, on average, an insane 242% more expensive than their regular gluten-filled counterparts.

So if you don’t really have the allergy then, y’know, maybe just save yourself some money and stop being so darn cool.

9. Cinnamon is a lot more than just a Christmassy spice

Cinnamon is actually a potent antioxidant that can help to reduce the risk of blood clots, control blood sugar, and improve insulin sensitivity (the latter two help prevent diabetes and fat gain). So yeah, cinnamon rules – just don’t try to eat a whole teaspoon of it. You’ve been warned.

10. Popcorn > fruit and vegetables?

A small serving of air-popped popcorn actually contains more antioxidants in the form of cancer-fighting polyphenols than the average fruit or vegetable. Rejoice! Meat-and-two-popcorn for the win!

11. Soy was not always seen as fit for human consumption

Originally, the soybean was used as fertilizer in China. The Chinese didn’t dare consume soy until fermentation techniques were developed and foods such as soy sauce and tempeh were produced. Not sure how you feel about it now? Us neither.

12. Almond milk isn’t as new and ‘alternative’ as we might think

Just when you thought you were a hisptery trend-setter with your alternative choice of lactose-free almond milk… We’re sorry to break it to you, but almond milk ain’t actually all that new.

Us Europeans learned about almond milk from the Middle East, where it’d been a staple in kitchens since the Middle Ages. It was originally considered a luxury ingredient, and a substitute for dairy for fasting Muslims.

13. Coconut water could save a life or two

Coconut water doubled as an effective substitute for blood transfusions during World War II, and it was actually pretty successful.

As it tends to be sterile, packed with electrolytes, and behaves like a saline solution, it sort of mimics the effect of new blood. Yeah, we won’t be able to ‘unthink’ that the next time we have coconut milk either…


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