10 Incredible-but-True Facts About Eating Fruits and Vegetables

by Beth Buczynski on 15 May 2014 0 comments

Ever heard the term "eat a rainbow"? Traditionally, nutritional guidelines have recommended that we eat a certain number of fruits and vegetables each day to maintain optimal health, but recently that strategy has changed. Realizing that our bodies need a variety of fruits and veggies, not just a certain amount, health experts now recommend we try to eat as many colors as possible during each meal.

Kind of makes you wonder what else we may not know about the relationship between fruits, vegetables, and our health. Read on to discover some surprising facts! (See also: The Produce Worker's Guide to Choosing Fruits and Vegetables)

1. They Have All the Protein You Need

Did you know broccoli contains more protein per calorie than steak and one ounce of pumpkin seeds contains two grams more protein than the same quantity of ground beef? According to Dr. Scott Stoll, "Multiple studies have shown that if you are meeting your caloric needs through plant-based nutrition, you will satisfy your body's protein requirements." (See also: Beyond Beef: Tasty, Frugal Protein)

2. Pineapple Can Destroy Your Taste Buds

Ever noticed that you mouth feels burned after eating a pile of fresh pineapple? That's because pineapple contains a protease enzyme called bromelain that breaks down proteins. In fact, bromelain is so potent, it's used as a meat tenderizer in marinades. Thwart it by avoiding the pineapple's core, or letting a cut pineapple sit in the fridge overnight before eating.

3. Carrots Don't Really Give You Stronger Eyes

If your parents ever convinced you to finish your carrots by promising super-hero vision, you were duped. Carrots are a good source of vitamin A, but not enough to make a difference for your peepers. Interestingly, according to writer Rachael Rettner, "the myth that carrots improve your eyesight may have its roots in a World War II propaganda campaign." (See also: Baby Carrots: The Frugal Idea That Isn't)

4. Every Banana Is the Same Banana

There are lots of different kinds of banana, but when it comes to the yellow fruit we all know and love — the Cavendish banana — there is, literally, only one. "Nearly all commercial banana plants are perfect clones of one another and most originate from one single plant from Southeast Asia." Oh and bananas don't grow on trees; they're technically an herb.

5. Peppers Are Nature's Band-Aid

Need to stop a bleeding cut but don't have a bandage? If you've got cayenne pepper nearby it could work just as well. Sprinkling it on the wound, or ingesting it in a tea, "equalizes the blood pressure and allows cuts — even deep cuts — to clot quickly so you can keep all your blood inside your body, where it belongs."

6. Apples Pack More Energy Than Coffee

In need of energy, it's customary to reach for a piping hot cup of Joe, but if you want that energy to last all day, you should grab an apple instead. Unlike the caffeine in coffee, which comes on strong but fades fast, an apple will keep you fueled up all day because "it contains calories and carbohydrates, as well as vitamins and minerals." (See also: 9 Foods That Will Keep You Satisfied for Longer)

7. Watermelons Are Antique Canteens

Watermelons are 92% water. For this reason, ancient explorers often carried them as "canteens" to ensure hydration on long trips. The high water content may also have been why Egyptians often buried their dead with the pink, juicy fruit.

8. Grapefruits Can Kill You

Grapefruit juice is considered a "nutraceutical" meaning it can prevent and treat disease. But if you're also taking real medications, drinking a glass of grapefruit juice could be the last thing you ever do. "It turns out that grapefruit juice can directly or indirectly interact in important ways with a number of medications" preventing many drugs from being absorbed into the body creating potentially toxic side effects. (See also: 2 Juices That Are Surprisingly Bad for You)

9. Tomatoes Really Are Vegetables

In the United States, more tomatoes are consumed than any other single fruit or vegetable! Trivia geeks love telling their friends that tomatoes are actually a fruit, but technically this is untrue in America. In 1893 the Supreme Court was called upon to settle the debate once and for all, and they decided to make the tomato a vegetable.

10. The Skin Is the Best Part

Do you peel your carrots, cucumbers or apples before eating them? You may be tossing the most nutritional part in the trash can. The highest concentration of vital nutrients is often found in the skin. "Additionally, the skins contain the highest concentrations of fiber, something that most American diets lack."

Know any weird or surprising facts about a fruit or vegetable? Please share in comments!

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