Food can be confusing, with conflicting nutrition facts on labels and new fad diets constantly emerging. It’s hard to know what to believe when it comes to food, but there are a few food facts that always hold true. Check out these seven strange and surprising food facts that everyone should know about!
1) Cinnamon lowers blood sugar
Cinnamon can lower blood sugar for people with type 2 diabetes or prediabetes, according to a study of 60 people with type 2 diabetes published in Diabetes Care. The study split participants into three groups: One took 1, 3, or 6 g of cinnamon per day, another took metformin (Glucophage) 500 mg twice a day, and the last group took a placebo.
At 40 days, all three groups had lowered their fasting blood glucose levels; more impressively, those taking cinnamon had reduced hemoglobin A1C levels by 5.8%, compared to 0.9% in those taking metformin. And both were more effective than placebo at reducing fasting blood glucose levels—metformin by 7% and cinnamon by 11%. The takeaway?
2) Mushrooms give your immune system a boost
If you’re cooking with mushrooms, don’t toss those stems—they contain an antioxidant called ergothioneine that may bolster your immune system. The same goes for garlic; it’s been shown to reduce levels of C-reactive protein, a marker of inflammation in people with heart disease. And turmeric, long prized as a spice for its anti-inflammatory properties, could play a role in preventing diabetes and cancer.
The same molecule that gives it its yellow color—curcumin—has also been found to have protective effects on liver cells and may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
3) Egg yolks are good for you
The protein in egg yolks has a unique ability to keep your skin, hair, nails, and bones strong. Don’t worry—it doesn’t taste like chicken! The yolk is actually pretty neutral-tasting; it does have a slightly richer flavor than egg whites.
Use only as many eggs as you need for a recipe—you can store extra whites in an airtight container in your fridge for up to 4 days. An egg has one of the highest concentrations of nutrients found in food. It contains all nine essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein), healthy fats, cholesterol, vitamins A, D and E, folate, iron, zinc and magnesium.
4) Popcorn is really, really good for you
If you’re on a diet, steer clear of movie-theater popcorn. It’s not a great choice nutritionally: at several hundred calories per serving, it’s generally too high in salt and saturated fat to be healthy. But that doesn’t mean you have to skip going to see The Avengers or even bringing a bag of popcorn with you if you want to save some calories.
A recent study found that women who ate one cup of air-popped popcorn daily as part of their lunch reported less hunger three hours later compared with those who didn’t eat any—even though they consumed fewer than 50 extra calories.
5) Watermelons lower blood pressure
Just one slice of watermelon has about 8% of your daily intake of lycopene, an antioxidant that lowers your blood pressure. Scientists believe it has to do with another part of lycopene called all-trans-lycopene cyclase, which breaks down LDL cholesterol.
A diet high in lycopene is associated with a lower risk for heart disease. In fact, researchers from Columbia University showed that eating 10 milligrams per day (about two slices) reduced overall deaths by 20 percent and strokes by 40 percent. So eat up!
6) Kiwi fruit fights anemia
As their name suggests, kiwi fruit is native to New Zealand. Though they’re tiny, kiwis are actually a fruit more closely related to berries than other stone fruits like cherries or plums. They’re also rich in vitamin C, which makes them excellent immunity boosters.
Kiwis have been shown to help ward off anemia because of their high level of iron — in fact, one study found that eating just two kiwis each day for a week significantly boosted participants’ hemoglobin levels (the compound in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen). Finally, even if you don’t suffer from iron deficiency, kiwi can still be good for you: Eating too much iron could be bad for your health.
7) Coconut oil can help with Alzheimer’s Disease
Because of its high lauric acid content, coconut oil is a natural antibacterial, anti-fungal, and anti-viral agent. For people with Alzheimer’s Disease, coconut oil can help clear up confusion and fight depression—and it can even slow cognitive decline.
Though more research needs to be done on exactly how coconut oil combats Alzheimer’s, there are a number of studies showing just how powerful this superfood is for your brain health. Coconut may also have other health benefits for other parts of your body too.
It’s not all that surprising when you consider that humans first started eating coconuts in Southeast Asia thousands of years ago.