50 Surprising Facts About Vegetables You Probably Didn’t Know – Part 2

Vegetables are an essential part of a healthy diet, providing us with a wide range of nutrients that are essential for optimal health. From leafy greens to colorful root vegetables, there is a vast variety of vegetables to choose from. But beyond their nutritional value, there are many other fascinating facts about vegetables that may surprise you. In this article, we will explore 50 Surprising Facts About Vegetables, ranging from their history and cultural significance to their surprising health benefits and environmental impact. Whether you are a seasoned vegetable lover or just starting to incorporate more greens into your diet, this article has something for everyone. So read on to discover the incredible world of vegetables!
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1 Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potatoes

Though raw sweet potatoes don’t taste very sweet on their own, they contain an enzyme called beta-amylase that converts the starch into sugar. A cooking-activated enzyme, which speeds up when the potato reaches a certain temperature, is what gives sweet potatoes their sweetness.

2. In the 1990s, breeders started cross-pollinating different kinds of Brussels sprouts to get rid of the compounds that gave them their bitter taste. Because of their work, Brussels sprouts are showing up on more and more restaurant menus these days.

3. Within an hour of rubbing fresh garlic on your feet, you’ll be able to detect its pungent flavor. This is because allicin, the chemical responsible for garlic’s odor, is small enough to go through your skin and blood vessels and reach your mouth and nose.

4. Ancient vegetables were small and unpleasant. Tomatoes from that era were a little bigger than a berry, while potatoes were smaller than a peanut. Corn flourished unchecked, producing ears with kernels so large they could fracture a tooth. Our ancestors bred crops over generations, carefully selecting for beneficial characteristics.

5. The Pomato is a hybrid grafted plant that has both tomato and potato genes. The resultant plant produces two different types of food: cherry tomatoes on the vine and white potatoes in the soil. By providing nourishment for various pollinators, grafting can help increase natural resilience and encourage biodiversity.

6 Ancient Popcorn

Ancient Popcorn

Popcorn was the only way to eat several ancient varieties of corn. The Aztecs first popped popcorn from wild corn before milling it into flour.

7. Oxalic acid, found in abundance in spinach, can combine with calcium to create kidney stones. Moderation is the key, as is avoiding consuming it alongside other calcium-rich foods. It should also never be given to your dog or cat.

8. To prevent the roads from freezing, several towns are using a combination of beet juice and salt. Beet juice is more effective than salt brine in preventing roadways from freezing over at temperatures as low as -25 °C. This blend of beet juice is also safer for the environment.

9. Because of a recessive gene that stops capsaicin from being made, bell peppers are the only type of Capsicum pepper that is not spicy.

10. The majority of “baby carrots” on grocery store shelves are really cut-down carrots that would have otherwise been rejected for aesthetic reasons.

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11 Artichoke Flower

Artichoke Flower

As a flower, artichokes take on this appearance when allowed to fully bloom before being picked. After artichokes bloom, the stems and leaves are still edible, while the showy purple flowers are frequently used in floral displays.

12. Many people believe that celery has a negative calorie count. The digestion of a single stalk of celery really uses up around half a calorie of energy; therefore, it in fact does not have negative calories.

13. The red pigment in beetroot, called betalain, is difficult for the human digestive system to process. It’s likely that when you use the restroom, you’ll have beeturia, or red or pink pee. It’s also quite a common reason for people to think they have blood in their stool and head to the doctor’s office.

14. A natural sugar called sucrose is stored in the cells of onions. Heat transforms the naturally occurring sugar sucrose in onions into the more palatable glucose and fructose. Caramelization is the method used to achieve the very sweet flavor of caramelized onions. When using a low and slow method of caramelization, a half teaspoon of baking soda can cut the time needed from 40 minutes down to roughly 20.

15. The expression “cool as a cucumber” has a scientific basis. A cucumber’s interior temperature might be up to 20 degrees lower than the surrounding air.

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16 Lettuce in Ancient Egypt

Lettuce in Ancient Egypt

The ancient Egyptians were the first people to intentionally cultivate lettuce for its succulent leaves, having previously utilized the plant’s seeds to make oil. Egyptian lettuce was also the emblem of the ithyphallic fertility God Min because of the white latex fluid it secretes when stimulated.

17. Rabbits don’t typically eat carrots. We assume so because actor Clark Gable munches on a carrot while delivering a rapid monologue in the film “It Happened One Night,” which inspired Bugs Bunny’s creator. Additionally, Gable is referred to as “Doc” throughout the film. They should only be given carrots on rare occasions since eating too much might result in obesity.

18. A genetic mutation in an olfactory receptor gene (OR6A2) makes cilantro taste highly unpleasant to 3–21% of the human population. Those who have this variation report that the flavor of cilantro (sometimes even Brussels sprouts) is “a mix of soap and vomit,” or that it has an odor like that of stinkbugs.

19. Asparagus was once given to American pilots in their emergency food packs because it made their urine smell good to fish, which made them easier to catch.

20. Since most vegetables retain more nutrients when microwaved than when cooked in any other way, this is the healthiest way to cook your vegetables. Steaming over a stovetop is also just as good. Steamed broccoli maintained more of its cancer-fighting sulforaphane than microwaved broccoli, according to one study.

15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History

21 Rhubarb Leaves

Rhubarb Leaves

Rhubarb leaves contain a significant amount of oxalic acid, which can be harmful if consumed in large quantities. Symptoms of oxalic acid toxicity may include mild gastrointestinal issues as well as more serious complications like kidney stones and kidney failure. It is important to note that although rhubarb stalks are commonly used in cooking and are generally considered safe to eat, the leaves should be avoided due to their high oxalic acid content.

22. Consuming an excessive amount of spinach can cause gastrointestinal distress, including bloating, cramping, and an excess of gas. This is because spinach is high in both fiber and oxalate, which can be harmful when consumed in large quantities. Some people may be more sensitive to the effects of oxalate and may experience these symptoms after consuming smaller amounts of spinach. In general, spinach should be eaten in small amounts as part of a healthy and varied diet.

23. Before kale became popular in 2013, Pizza Hut was a significant purchaser of the leafy green vegetable. The company used kale as a decorative element on its salad bar rather than for its culinary uses.

24. During the American Civil War, coffee was scarce and expensive in the South, leading to the use of okra seeds as a substitute. It is said that the taste of okra seeds is similar to coffee. Okra seeds were likely used as a replacement for coffee due to their availability and relatively low cost during a time of economic strain and limited access to imported goods.

25. Some people believe that a fungus known as “Chicken of the Woods” has a flavor similar to chicken. However, others claim that it tastes more like crab or lobster. The taste of this mushroom can vary depending on the individual’s personal preferences and experiences.

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      • In actuality, you would have had no difficulties if you did, unless you ate too much (chemicals in chewing gum are also used in anti constipation pills)

        • Artificial sweeteners are effective laxatives. However, most gum does not employ artificial sweeteners for the simple reason that they are more expensive than sugar.

  1. RE: Fact# 14 – Onion Caramelization : onions jam It may seem absurd, but all it is is a ton of onions cooked with a few spices until the natural sugars and pectin are released.

    • Yep. Moreover, I’m not surprised they made the connection given that the plant possesses narcotic qualities and milky white sap.

  2. RE: Fact# 16 – Egyptian Lettuce Fertility God:
    Crocodile dung was also utilized by Ancient Egyptians as a kind of birth control. It works well since most people won’t have sex with you if you’re holding crocodile dung.

  3. RE: Fact# 3 – Garlic Taste in Mouth: Additionally, if you put your finger on some liquid DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide), you will nearly instantly taste garlic. You may taste it in your breath once it passes through your skin and into your blood.

    • can attest. The flavor is awful.

      It’s one of nature’s greatest solvents, making it extremely hazardous because touching it might allow some unpleasant stiff to pass through your skin.

  4. Regarding Fact#14, “Onion Caramelization,” I feel completely out of the loop as a chef. I learnt this so long ago and am constantly surrounded by it that I completely forget I didn’t learn it at birth and that I too had to learn it for the first time.

    Hot tip: cook them slower and lower. High heat won’t get you the best results, and the thing we use to say bout someone who can’t is “can he cook? That guy thinks onions take 15 minutes to caramelize.”

    The punchline is that it takes A LOT longer. You want them to be much more transparent. Like, they ought to appear fairly brown and repulsive.

    However, it is your meal. Act as you please.

    • Then again, it’s your food. Do what you want

      Just wanted to remark how much I appreciate this addendum. It is so straightforward yet so energizing, especially coming from an expert in the field.

      As a novice home cook, I like experimenting with food storage. I have my own sensitivity and my boyfriend has a wide range of food allergies. We each have our own tastes; he favors a vegetarian diet, while I choose one that emphasizes meat.

      As a result, I use a fair amount of my free time to evaluate recipes, watch YouTube videos, and go through social media for dinner inspiration. I see people who are gatekeeping food frequently (no, more frequently than frequently). I find it very incomprehensible that somebody could think in such a way. I’m not referring to something that should be investigated, such as non-Indigenous people making money off of Indigenous foods and ingredients. When I say “if you’re not eating your steak rare, you’re WRONG and an IDIOT,” I mean just that. I firmly think that people have the right to consume their steak rare if they so want. As a result, I likewise think that I should have every right to enjoy my steak well-done. I don’t see anything wrong with either person eating what they like, and I would more people would think the same way.

      TL;DR – thank you for not gatekeeping food.

  5. RE: Fact# 17 – Rabbits & Carrots:

    What you want to offer them are the carrot tops. I feed my pet carrot shavings and apple sticks sometimes.

  6. RE: Fact# 18 – Cilantro Weird Taste:
    This taste is one of many others. It seems that bell peppers are similar to this, although a considerably lesser proportion of people are sensitive to it.

    For some folks, bell peppers taste like dirt.

    Since Pho (Vietnamese soup), which I like, seems to contain roughly 50% cilantro, I wonder if cilantro sensitivity varies by population.

    • To me, beets taste and smell like dirt. I can’t stand them. Every year for Thanksgiving my step-dad had to make boiled beets. I think he was the only one that ate them. Stank up the whole house.

  7. RE: Fact# 5 – Pomato: Perhaps twice as many different kinds of crops, but not twice as much produce. The quantity of resources that the plant can obtain, which is still subject to limitations, determines your production level.

    • I’m no expert but I think itd come down to what nutrients are required (NPK)

      Potatoes are like 34-0-0 and tomatoes are 6-24-24

      If they arent competing for the same nutrients you should theoretically get a double yield per area

      As a gardener this isnt practical if you have the space. I read another article you have to get grafted specimens each year since it’s not a hybrid seed

      EDIT: I was off on the NPK. 34-0-0 is initial nutrients and then to 12-12-17

  8. RE: Fact# 14 – Onion Caramelization : My dislike of onions changed to love for all onion varieties when I discovered how to make them caramelized.

  9. RE: Fact# 14 – Onion Caramelization : You can also do this with bell peppers and celery. Include some garlic. Sprinkle some flour over those undesirables. a little Cajun seasoning seafood stock Shrimp is added in the end.

    Now, lads, we’re eating etouffee.

  10. RE: Fact# 18 – Cilantro Weird Taste:

    Being a soaplantro sufferer made my job as the head chef and menu creator at a Mexican fusion restaurant incredibly strange. I left the owners to do the cilantro dishes because I know people love these kind of dishes.

    Every dish is simply overpowered by cilantro, which to me tastes like Irish spring. It’s not really an ingredient you can ask to keep out of most recipes as it’s often in a pre-mix produced that morning, and I can taste it even when it’s used sparingly in salsa.

  11. RE: Fact# 23 – Before Kale Fad:

    I used to work at Ruby Tuesday and they were too cheap for the real stuff. We had rubber Kale that we garnished the salad bar with.

    • I’m not sure whether it’s so much inexpensive as economical. There is no need for it to be an actual plant as it will just be used as a garnish. I dunno, in my grocery shop we garnish our fresh meat displays with the actual stuff, and I believe it is the worst waste of money.

      • The reason being that every once in a while a moron will pick up the rubber leaves, put them on their plate, and then call management to complain that their salad is broken.

        • You know, for a long time, I questioned why people would support Trump, and only then did I understand that America is populated by individuals of this kind.

  12. RE: Fact# 26 – Too Much Zucchinis:

    That was our childhood. Our garden covered over a third of an acre. In just six weeks, my father could have planted a broomstick and had leaves sprout from it. In order to prevent the deer from eating all of his zucchini within a year, he planted 25 hills. Let me say that again. 25 Hills of  Zucchini. All but one survived. We didn’t have a lot of money, so my mother prepared zucchini pretty much every night. Despite this, we still had enough that I would pack my tiny Radio Flyer wagon full of the vegetable and carry it to the end of our driveway to give to neighbors. Cars would wait until I arrived with the free vegetables.

    Since I left home at age 18, I haven’t had zucchini. I’m 53 now.

  13. RE: Fact# 26 – Too Much Zucchinis:

    I chose to plant habaneros one year. I planted 5 habanero plants based on the yields of my typical bell pepper plants.

    Five pounds of habaneros that I had were given to one acquaintance, and three more spoiled before I could decide what to do with them.

    • Maybe make salsa off of them?

      I’ve also heard that animals typically detest the capsaicin in peppers (but not birds), so is it feasible to ground them up into juice or something and spray it on plants to deter rabbits, squirrels, and other rodents from eating them or from gnawing on things?

  14. RE: Fact# 20 – Microwaving Vegatables:

    For the source, much thanks. One of the strange ideas that has permeated the conventional wisdom of far too many of my friends is “Microwaves destroy all of the nutrients.” It’s nice to have some evidence to contradict something that wasn’t very logical to begin with.

    • Cooking the spinach breaks down the oxalic acid: https://www.leaf.tv/articles/how-to-break-down-oxalic-acid-in-food/

      Before preparing items containing oxalic acid, mash them. Oxalic acid will be released as a result, and your meal will then be cooked to remove it.

      Your leafy greens should be cooked. The oxalic acid in greens is broken down and released when they are cooked. They will emit more oxalic acid the longer you boil them.

      While cooking, add calcium carbonate to your greens. While cooking with calcium carbonate eliminates even more oxalic acid than cooking on its own does, Oxalic acid is neutralized by the calcium carbonate’s combination with it and removal from food. For it to work, very little calcium carbonate is required. For these uses, one teaspoon per pot of water is sufficient. Most health shops and even internet health food vendors sell calcium carbonate powder.

  15. RE: Fact# 25 – Chicken of the Woods:

    Before everyone rushes out to get some of these as a meat substitute:

    Before we get into cooking tips, I’ll mention again that some people have an adverse reaction to this mushroom. A small percentage of those who try it experience nausea, vomiting, swollen lips, or other gastrointestinal unpleasantness.

    For this reason it’s important to just try just a little bit of this mushroom the first time to see how it makes you feel. Don’t scarf down an entire chicken as you may regret it! It’s also best to avoid those growing on eucalyptus or conifer trees, as those seem to have a higher propensity towards making people sick.

    • The bit about not eating a chicken of the woods that grow on conifer trees is a misnomer. In the Pacific Northwest they pretty much only grow on conifer trees and are still a prized edible.

      • However, where I am in the northeast, it is important to avoid picking mushrooms from hemlock trees since doing so increases the likelihood that someone may have a negative response. I believe this is the reason they advise against all conifers.

        • The claim that hemlock trees do anything to make mushrooms harmful is unsupported by any evidence. In the PNW, hemlock is also present. The deadly hemlock plant from Europe has no connection to either the eastern or western hemlock trees, which are both non-toxic. It appears that certain less pleasant laetiporus species may be found on eastern hemlock, which may have inspired the association.

          A lot of what we consider to be “common knowledge” about mushrooms, even highly valued edible mushrooms, is really just old wives’ tales. There are several new discoveries to be made in the subject of mycology, which is a shockingly young one.

  16. RE: Fact# 28 – Moringa Miracle Leaves:

    Moringa leaves aren’t very noteworthy. Just a simple plant with enough nutritional content. It’s not magical. The “purification” of water by the seed’s processed components, which serve as flocculants, is not particularly effective. With readily accessible aluminum or iron salts, you may get the same result for a lot less money.

    • Although it may not seem magical to those of us in rich nations, it is to those in less developed nations who lack access to meat but require critical amino acids and iron. It is a plant with the potential to save lives that is inexpensive, simple to produce, and to cultivate.

      • They require critical amino acids since they do not consume enough of them; this plant does not change that. They would have plenty of everything if they had enough of the items they previously ate.

    • How in the world does this not get everything dirty? I have to be extremely careful every time I prepare beets to prevent any from splashing on my clothing.

  17. RE: Fact# 35 – Corn Bred from Teosinte:

    We have grown so proficient at growing corn densely that the humidity levels in locations where corn is the major crop have increased.

    • Another interesting fact: the M. Night Shyamalan film Signs/em> needed a cornfield quickly owing to production schedules. They actually invented a completely new technique to cultivate a full field of maize in record time.

  18. RE: Fact# 24 – Okra Coffee Substitute:

    Roasted chicory root and roast dandelion root are more substitutes that are comparable. The latter, the only one I’ve tried, tastes much like coffee.

  19. RE: Fact# 13 – Beeturia:

    It works wonders in getting kids to eat beets.

    “You can turn your urine and poop pink if you eat enough of this.”

    Children continue to eat beets while anticipating pink excrement.

  20. RE: Fact# 39 – Kimchi Crisis:

    Even as a white guy with a Korean godmother, I can tell you that a shortage of kimchi is a genuine catastrophe.

  21. RE: Fact# 31 – Tomato Harvested When Green:

    That is why homegrown vegetables are so good. I don’t recall ever having anything I grew/made at home that wasn’t better than the shop version. Beer, whiskey, maple syrup, green beans, potatoes, eggs, tomatoes, grapes… Almost everything is better.

  22. RE: Fact# 31 – Tomato Harvested When Green:

    I had heard that they are picked when they are just starting to turn, but I had also heard this.

    About 5 years ago, a local supermarket began caring for ‘vine ripened tomatoes,’ and my girlfriend and I discovered a dozen fresh tomato recipes. The next year, they substituted “on the vine tomatoes” for “vine ripened tomatoes” at the same price, and I found gardening.

  23. RE: Fact# 39 – Kimchi Crisis:

    DARPA has a whole department dedicated to preserving maize and wheat harvests in the event of a biological disaster, but nothing for cucumbers. Imagine the panic if there was a pickle shortage!

    • In college, I met a woman who worked at the juice bar of a health fast food joint. She consumed so much carrot juice that her lips and fingernails were orange in color.



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