It’s often said that fact is stranger than fiction and that certainly applies to some of the weird and wonderful things you’ll find out about food and eating when you dig a little deeper. Indeed, some of these tasty trivia seem so strange you’ll wonder if they’re true….
Almonds have twice as much calcium as milk
Gram for gram this is absolutely true – 100g of almonds have 240mg of bone-building calcium, while semi-skimmed (2%) milk has 120mg per 100g. That said, we tend to drink milk in bigger quantities than we eat almonds (and the calcium from milk is easily absorbed), so the dairy option is a better source day-to-day.
Chocolate really doesn’t give you spots
Acne is caused by the production of hormones, and the effect these have on the sebaceous glands, not so much by what you eat. A generally unbalanced diet might exacerbate the condition, and excess dairy and refined carbs might play a role, but this remains unproven. There’s certainly no evidence specifically linking chocolate with spots.
Darker drinks come with more of a hangover
Drinks with high levels of congeners – flavouring agents and other chemicals – can worsen a hangover. Generally, the paler the drink, the smaller the congener content, so vodka is a lot less likely to cause a hangover than a dark rum for example.
Vegans narrowly missed being called “benevores”
The term vegan was coined in November 1944, when a group of non-dairy vegetarians got together to discuss non-dairy vegetarian diets and lifestyles. This group – which grew into the Vegan Society in the UK – toyed with the names “dairyban”, “vitan” and “benevore”, before settling on vegan, which contains the first three and last two letters of vegetarian.
Your hay fever symptoms can predict food allergies
People with allergies to grasses may have a reaction to peaches, celery, tomatoes, melons and oranges. If you’re allergic to birch tree pollen (your hay fever kicks in earlier in the season), watch out for reactions to pitted fruits like nectarines and apricots as well as peanuts.
Eating cholesterol-rich foods doesn’t raise your blood cholesterol
Unless you have some unlucky genes, this holds. Foods such as prawns and eggs are rich in cholesterol, but when you eat them your internal production of cholesterol goes down in response, so your blood cholesterol levels don’t get raised, or only get raised minimally. It’s saturated fat that’s of concern when it comes to high blood cholesterol.
Tea bags were an accident
According to the Tea and Infusions Association, Thomas Sullivan, a New York tea merchant, started to send samples of tea to his customers in small silken bags in around 1908 – and rather than empty out the contents, people assumed the entire bag should be put in the pot. It was through this mistake that the tea bag was born.
You can hear rhubarb grow
A method called “rhubarb forcing” involves putting rhubarb in a dark shed, tricking it into thinking that it’s spring. This will cause the rhubarb to grow at a massively fast pace. So fast, in fact, you can hear the rhubarb popping as it grows.
Cheese is the most stolen food in the world
After surveying nearly 1,200 retailers representing 250,000 retail outlets all across the world, the UK’s Centre for Retail Research discovered that the most stolen food is none other than a block of cheese.
Only some countries sell eggs refrigerated
The Americans, Australians and Japanese all wash and sanitise eggs. That means they also have to oil and then refrigerate them, as washing removes the natural protective barrier on the eggs that prevents bacteria entering. In the UK, and across the EU, it’s the law not to wash grade A eggs. This keeps the natural protection in place so they can be sold from the shelf and not the chiller cabinet.
Bananas are radioactive
Bananas are rich in potassium, a mineral that balances water levels in the body as well as keeping blood pressure healthy. But a small proportion of that potassium is the unstable radioactive form, which you are swallowing alongside the regular potassium every time you eat the fruit. Other fruit and vegetables rich in potassium will also be a teeny bit radioactive in the same way. Thankfully it’s next to impossible to get a significant dose of radiation from eating fruits and veggies.