Vegetables. Back when you were a little kid, you were probably like everyone else: pushing your green veggies around on your plate, super annoyed that your mom was forcing you to eat them. Since you're an adult you probably like some of them... or at least you can appreciate them enough to give them a place in your healthy diet and lifestyle. Word of the nutritional benefits that vegetables have to offer is pretty easy to come by, but there are some other interesting things to know about these natural foods that we eat so much of. Here are 14 weird facts about vegetables you probably haven't heard before
14 There's Some Debate About Cooking Veggies
Some people claim that cooking certain vegetables can reduce the amount of nutrients you get from the raw version of the vegetable, but then other people say that it's not quite as simple as that. What we do know for sure is that freezing vegetables does not reduce the amount of vitamins and nutrients that you get out of them, so buying frozen is a fine choice when you're buying in bulk or just for yourself and don't want the rest to go bad. It might just be that certain vegetables are better raw while others are better cooked. One study that was done in 2009 found that steaming and boiling can cause a 22 percent to 34 percent loss of vitamin C in broccoli. However, cooked or processed tomatoes contain more lycopene than the raw version.
13 Tomatoes Were Once Considered Poisonous
For quite some time, people avoided eating anything from the nightshade family because they considered them to be deadly poisonous. In addition to tomatoes, the family includes potatoes, eggplants, and peppers. However, this belief was challenged when people were eating a lot of these vegetables out of desperation during a time of famine and nothing happened. Since then, tomatoes have been quite popular. Tomatoes are a really good source of vitamin C, biotin, molybdenum, and vitamin K, as well as being a good source of copper, potassium, manganese, dietary fiber, vitamin A, vitamin B6, folate, niacin, vitamin E, and phosphorus. Getting high levels of lycopene in the diet has been thought to reduce the risk of developing certain types of cancer, and it is also good for the skin.
12 Spinach Doesn't Have That Much Iron
You can't really think of spinach without thinking of Popeye who downed the stuff to stay strong. However, it turns out that spinach might not have as much iron as it was once thought and that belief might have even come about from a simple math error. No one is double checking these things or what??? Apparently, someone put the decimal in the wrong place, giving spinach an extremely inflated iron count. Plus, at the time that this was tested, the researchers might not have considered the cross contamination that could occur from utensils and other materials in the lab which further discredits the claims. It seems like spinach has about the same amount of iron that any other vegetable does, but it is also full of oxalic acid which actually prevents the body from absorbing iron.
11 Vegetables Were Used As The First Tampons
Ladies, we've got it pretty good. We may complain about that time of the month, but know this: back before modern times, weird things happened when it came to that time of the month. At one point in history, the Egyptians created something like a tampon that was made from dried vegetable fibers, papyrus, and cotton. Of course, the option of wearing something like a diaper was not entirely favored by all which is what led to their getting a little more creative. These makeshift tampons seemed to work pretty well, except that they weren't always the easiest thing to remove. Apparently, some of the vegetable fibers would get left behind when it was removed and they would have to be picked out otherwise they could lead to infections. That's something to think about the next time you're grumbling about your menstrual cycle, it could be worse.
10 You Can Use Cucumbers As Erasers
Supposedly if you make a mistake writing with a pen, you can use the outside skin of a cucumber to erase it. Cucumbers are also, of course, great for eating. They're 95 percent water so they are a great choice to eat when you're trying to stay hydrated. They are a good source of vitamin K, the B vitamins, copper, potassium, vitamin C, and manganese. Cucumbers contain an anti-inflammatory flavonoid called fisetin which seems to play an important role in keeping the brain healthy, by protecting the nerve cells from age-related decline and improving the memory. They are also a good source of polyphenols called lignans which might help to reduce certain types of cancers, specifically breast, uterine, ovarian, and prostate.
9 Eating Too Many Carrots Really Does Turn You Orange
You've probably heard this rumor before... because it's true. You would have to eat quite a lot of them for this to actually occur, but it's possible and it has definitely happened. Carrots and other orange vegetables are high in beta-carotene which is what gives them the color. If you ingest too much beta-carotene it will actually enter your bloodstream and since it does not get broken down in the body it gets deposited on the skin. The medical term for this is called carotenemia which sounds more intense than it is since the condition is harmless and eventually your skin will break down the color and return to normal. This is more commonly seen in babies than in adults since foods like carrots and sweet potatoes are some of the first solid foods that they might start eating mashed up. Beta-carotene is thought of as a version of vitamin A which is good for the eyes and general immunity.
8 Tomatoes Are Legally A Veggie
You know that tomatoes are actually botanically a fruit, but they are legally considered a vegetable thanks to a decision the government made in the late 1800s. Like many other things the government does, their intention was to make money. Back then there was a trade tariff in place that taxed vegetables not fruits, so they called it a vegetable so that it would be taxed every time it was imported into the country. It seems like one of those choices that make you scratch your head, but how can you do that, but the Supreme Court said so and continues to say so today. It works out fine enough since tomatoes seem more like a savory veggie thanks to their low sugar content, but we know the truth. Tomatoes are super good sources of vitamins A, C, and K, and are quite good sources of vitamin B6, folate, and thiamin.
7 A Lot Of Veggies Are Actually Fruit
This gets a little confusing, but also it's probably not super important. But here we go anyway. Gardeners and chefs will have different opinions about what is considered a fruit or vegetable. The dictionary says that vegetables come from the edible parts of plants, such as the root, stalks, stems, leaves etc. A fruit is a thing that develops from the ovary of a flower on the plant. Going by that definition, all of the following vegetables would then actually be considered a fruit: eggplant, olives, pea pods, cucumber, pumpkin, avocado, capsicum, and zucchini. However like the tomato, the taste of those things seem to fall more into the vegetable than fruit category which is why we tend to go with that description. Whatever you want to call them, you should eat them because they're good for you.
6 The Veggie Skins Have The Most Nutrients
With most fruits and vegetables, the skin is where most of the nutrients are stored, so when you peel them and strip it away you're actually totally missing out on a lot of nutrients and fiber. Even potato skins which are quite rough and not the most colorful of skins are full of nutrients. They are a good source of potassium, iron, and niacin. The way that potato skins are generally prepared at restaurants, however, is not going to be healthy, since they are often fried and topped with all kinds of added fats and calories. To cook your own potato skins at home you can just bake them in the oven and then top them with your own healthy toppings. Think Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or fill them with some other veggies and salsa. One thing to keep in mind when eating vegetable skins, however, is to go organic to avoid as many pesticides as possible.
5 Potatoes Were The First Food To Be Grown In Space
Potato plants were taken into space into 1996 on the Columbia space shuttle where they were grown. According to NASA, these “Quantum Tubers” involved “combining an agricultural technique from China with controlled environment technologies originally developed by the University of Wisconsin-Madison for plant growth in space.” Potatoes are often thought of as a comfort food thanks to their high starch content and many of the methods that they are cooked with, but they are also really good for you when they're not fried or covered in butter, cheese, or sour cream. Potatoes are a good source of vitamin B6, potassium, copper, vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin, dietary fiber, and pantothenic acid. Some studies have found that potatoes contain a compound called kukoamines which can help to lower the blood pressure.
4 Asparagus Loses Flavor The Fastest
Out of all the vegetables, asparagus loses it's flavor the fastest, especially after it has been cut. It's best to eat it the day you buy or it, or else store it in the refrigerator with a damp towel wrapped about the bottoms of the stalks to keep it moist for a couple days. The thicker stalks are usually a better option when you have a variety to choose from. The earliest known cultivation of asparagus goes back to Greece 2,500 years ago. The Greeks thought it had medicinal properties and particularly liked to use it for healing toothaches. It contains more folic acid than any other vegetable, and it's a good source of fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C, as well as glutathione which is a phytochemical with antioxidant and anticarcinogenic properties.
3 Onions Are Super Healthy
If you shy away from onions because they make your breath smell, you might want to reconsider that life choice. Onions contain over 100 different sulfide containing compounds that can do everything from help control asthma to prevent certain types of cancer. The phytochemicals in onions might be able to prevent gastric ulcers. The chromium in them helps to regulate the blood sugar, and the sulfur also helps lower the blood sugar by increasing the production of insulin. They are also a good source of biotin (which is great for the skin and the hair), manganese, vitamin B6, copper, vitamin C, dietary fiber, phosphorus, potassium, folate, and vitamin B1. The flavonoids in onions are the most concentrated in the outer flesh layers, so don't peel off too much of the edible flesh with the outer skin.
2 Peppers Can Help Your Blood Clot
When our bodies bleed they have to be able to clot properly to stop the bleeding, and sometimes this can be a bit of an issue. Believe it or not, the cayenne pepper is actually capable of helping this happen. You can literally sprinkle it directly onto a wound where it will function as some sort of a spicy gauze and will stop the bleeding. (No word on whether putting spice in an open wound will hurt like a bitch, but I would think yes.) Eating cayenne pepper in your diet will also help to stabilize the blood pressure and help blood clotting from the inside of the body as well. So just sprinkling it on your dinner can actually help your wounds heal faster. That's a nice and weird side effect. Plus, some say that eating spicy food can give your metabolism a little boost so you'll burn more calories at the same time that you're healing your skin.
1 Celery Isn't Actually A Negative Calorie Food
Many people call foods like celery a negative calorie food since it is so low in calories that it's assumed that you burn them all off just chewing and digesting the damn thing. However, science says that negative calorie foods don't actually exist. Personally, I still would like to believe that they do, just because. Apparently, a single stalk of celery has somewhere between six and ten calories, and about eight out of ten of them would still count. There is something called the TEF (Thermal Effect of Food) which is a metric calculation that figures these types of things out. It usually only adds up to about ten to 20 percent of the food. But let's be honest, the eight calories from eating a stalk of celery probably aren't going to cause you a whole lot of issues... especially compared to the calories in the bloody mary that it came out of.