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7 Fun & Surprising Food Facts You May Not Know

Nathalie Fraise
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With so much attention paid to food (especially among MindBodyGreen readers!), it seems almost inconceivable that

1. Figs are not necessarily vegan.

Say what? While this one is a bit debatable, some varieties of figs are actually pollinated by wasps that end up dying within the fruit. The figs go on to "digest" the wasp, but some of the crunchy shell and eggs may be left behind. Some vegans and vegetarians still choose to consume figs, though, because they view this relationship between wasps and figs as naturally symbiotic, but others don’t, as they prefer not consume any animal products. Interesting, isn’t it?

2. Not all saturated fats contain cholesterol ...

Most foods high in saturated fat (like butter, red meat, egg yolk, etc.) do contain cholesterol. But some foods high in saturated fats don’t contain any. Coconut oil, for example, is mostly a saturated fat, but it does not contain any cholesterol. Not a drop. That’s because cholesterol is only found in animal products.

3. ... but olive oil contains saturated fat.

Although it is mostly made up of monounsaturated fat, olive oil contains about 14% saturated fat. In fact, ALL fats contain a blend of polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, and saturated fats, just in different proportions.

4. Bananas are berries.

Blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, and ... bananas? Yup. Despite their size, bananas are the seedless berries of a tree-sized herb related to the grasses Musa sapientum. Who knew?

5. We taste mostly with our nose, not our mouth.

Although there's disagreement over how much, it's estimated that between 70-90% of what we perceive as taste actually comes from smell. That’s good news for famous chefs like Grant Achatz (he lost his sense of taste to cancer, but has regained it since), but bad news for people with chronic stuffy noses.

6. Coconut water can be used as blood plasma in an emergency.

Coconut water (not milk!) was used during World War II, and with great success, as a substitute for blood transfusions. It’s (usually) sterile, contains electrolytes, and behaves like a saline solution. Not the perfect ratio of components, but good to know in a pinch.

7. Almond milk is not a recent discovery.

I know we think we're being radical with our “alternative milks,” but they are hardly new. Europeans learned about almond milk (and cream) from the Arabs, and were already using it regularly in their kitchens during the Middle Ages. It was considered a luxurious ingredient, as well as a dairy substitute during fasting days. So much for our “modern” invention.

Nathalie Fraise author page.
Nathalie Fraise

Nathalie Fraise is a natural foods chef, nutrition educator, certified holistic health coach, and the creator of the cooking app and food blog Vanille Verte.

She's also author of The Whole Coconut Cookbook.