Some food facts are common knowledge. For example, when your muscles are feeling tight, you feed your body some potassium with a banana. But what if I told you that you should actually reach for a different food to get the maximum amount of the nutrient you’re after? Prepare to expand your mind — here are 10 shocking food facts you probably never knew:
Popcorn has more antioxidants than produce.
Before you place your order for a jumbo bag of movie-style popcorn, Dr. Charlie Seltzer says it’s strictly the naturally air-popped popcorn that provides your body with these benefits. “One cup of popped popcorn has more nutritional value than say, an apple or peach,” Dr. Seltzer says.
Chocolate gives your body energy.
No, it’s not because of the caffeine. According to Dr. Carolyn Dean, “Dark chocolate contains the mineral magnesium, which most Americans are deficient in. Eating an ounce of dark chocolate with a 70-85 percent cacao will increase your energy levels.
Portobello mushrooms are the potassium king.
Despite popular myth, bananas don’t rule when it comes to potassium content. According to certified nutrition consultant Lori Kenyon Farley, portobello mushrooms have 40 percent more potassium than bananas.
You can eat the tops of strawberries.
You can also eat kiwi skin and the seeds found inside papaya. You absolutely should too, since health coach Jessica Steinberg says these commonly discarded parts of produce are rich in nutrients.
Tryptophan isn’t just for turkey.
The sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan is found in turkey and commonly blamed for many post-Thanksgiving naps. But according to Farley, egg whites contain more tryptophan than turkey.
Raspberries aren’t berries.
Sure, we call them berries, but Farley says that strawberries, raspberries and blackberries aren’t berries in the traditional sense. The technical definition of a berry is a fruit that is produced from a single ovary. Bananas, tomatoes, pumpkin, watermelon and avocados fit this description, but strawberries, raspberries and blackberries have surrounding flesh that isn’t made from a single ovary, making them “accessory fruits.”
This shellfish has more vitamin D than milk.
When we think of good sources of vitamin D, dairy products like milk likely come to mind. But Farley says oysters contain four times more vitamin D per calorie.
What’s more nutritious than kale?
Kale is having a serious moment due to the many health benefits this leafy green provides. But did you know there’s another overlooked green that is actually more nutrient-rich? According to a recent study conducted by Patterson University, watercress is the most nutrient dense food you can eat. It contains up to twice the vitamin C of an orange, more calcium than milk, plus nutrients that benefit everything from your eyesight to helping lessen the symptoms of eczema.
Tomatoes are healthier when you cook them.
These salad MVPs are pretty good for you raw, but as registered dietician Rene Ficek points out, cooking them down helps your body absorb lycopene, a strong antioxidant found in tomatoes.
Eating fish will help you sleep.
Registered dietitian Kelly Springer says fish like salmon, halibut and tuna are high in vitamin B6, which is key for making melatonin, the hormone that helps to control your sleep cycles.