Five Fun Food Facts You Should Know

These facts about common foods may surprise you…and help you make healthier decisions.


As a subscriber to this newsletter, you are clearly a knowledgeable consumer of both food an information. Let’s see if these fun and informative facts about everyday foods can surprise you, and maybe even change what you choose to eat and drink!


Bananas are berries, as are cucumbers, kiwi, and watermelon (and strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries are not)! Botanical classifications are different than our common language for naming plant foods. “Berries” have seeds on the inside, like a kiwi, not on the outside, like a strawberry. The important thing to understand is, these fruits are good choices, no matter how they’re scientifically classed or how we categorize them in our minds.


Orange carrots weren’t always the norm. Before the 17th century, purple carrots were the most common, with a few white and orange varieties. Dutch growers did a bit of experimenting by crossing purple carrots with yellow and white ones, and the resulting sweeter orange variety became standard. Some of the colors of fruits and vegetables come from phytochemicals and vitamins. Today red, purple, orange, yellow, and white carrots are available again. Choose a variety of colors—in carrots and all fruits and veggies—to get the most from these healthy food choices.


You can’t overcook mushrooms. A quick sauté on the stovetop or an hour-long roast in the oven—either way, these fungi are fabulous. You may not think of mushrooms as a fibrous food, but it is their high fiber content that helps them retain their firm, chewy texture when cooked. In fact, the highest fiber edible plant, by weight, is the wood ear mushroom, most often seen in the U.S. in Chinese restaurant offerings. In addition to being an excellent source of insoluble dietary fiber, mushrooms are the only good plant source of naturally occurring vitamin D, especially if they were exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light during production. Their meaty texture and savory, umami flavor makes them a common meat substitute. Try chopped portabellas in place of some or all of the meat in your next meat sauce or chili for a boost of healthy fiber and other nutrients.


Yogurt coatings are not yogurt. It’s easy to think yogurt covered foods like dried fruit, nuts, and granola bars have something extra that’s good for you. The sad fact is, these coatings are more added sugar than yogurt. Typical ingredients include a little bit of “yogurt powder” and some stabilizers in a base of sugar and saturated-fat-rich tropical oil. Try tossing nuts, dried (or frozen or fresh) fruits, or granola on top of nonfat Greek yogurt instead.


White chocolate isn’t chocolate. White chocolate is made with cocoa butter, which comes from the cacao bean, but it does not contain cocoa solids, so white chocolate is not officially (or nutritionally) chocolate. Cocoa solids are a source of compounds called flavanols that have been associated with health benefits. Milk chocolate has some cocoa solids (10 to 40 percent by weight), but dark chocolate is the best chocolate source of cocoa flavanols. Not all chocolate labeled as dark has high levels of cocoa, however. Look for dark chocolate that has 70 percent cocoa or higher to maximize health benefits and reduce unhealthy added sugars.


Take Charge!

Here are some helpful takeaways from these fun facts:

  • Eat More Fruit. All fruits are good for you, no matter how they’re classified.
  • Go with Color. Fruits and vegetables with different colors have different nutrient profiles. Eat a rainbow of colors for optimal nutrition.
  • Cook with Mushrooms. They are the best plant source of vitamin D and they’re also nearly impossible to overcook.
  • Skip Yogurt Coatings. Toss those peanuts or raisins onto Greek yogurt instead of these candy coatings.
  • Choose Dark Chocolate. If you eat chocolate, choose varieties with 70 percent or more cocoa to get a flavanol boost without too much added sugar.


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