Interesting facts about fruits and vegetables

How many seeds are in a pomegranate? Do carrots really help us see in the dark and which vegetable was the first to grow in space ...

Vegetables are rich in vitamins, minerals, and fiber, which strengthen our immune system, regulate metabolism and allow us to live healthier and longer lives.

And while vegetables seem pretty ordinary to us, there are some pretty interesting facts that might make them a little more interesting.

 

Bell pepper (paprica)

Paprika is a fruit. Sound strange?

Scientists define a fruit as a part of a plant that develops from a flower and contains seeds. This means that paprika, as well as cucumbers, eggplants, pumpkins, olives, etc. are fruits.

 

Bananas

Bananas are berries, and the banana tree is grass that can reach a height of 15 meters.

A berry is defined as a stoneless fruit that develops from a single flower containing a single ovary (by ovary is understood as the female part of the flower). This means that kiwis and even bananas are berries too.

Bananas have a natural antacid effect (neutralize gastric acid, increasing the pH of the stomach contents), so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana.

Bananas, like any berry, also have seeds, but they are so tiny that we do not notice them at all.

Most wild bananas are not edible because they have many seeds inside and are very small. It took thousands of years of breeding to create bananas as they are today.

Bananas are naturally slightly radioactive because bananas contain potassium (a naturally occurring radioactive isotope). It is not dangerous, because the amount of radiation is very small - to receive a lethal dose, we would have to eat about 100,000,000 bananas in a short period of time.

Banana fiber can be used to make paper and fabric. Banana fiber fabric is called "bashofu" and has been produced in Japan for centuries. The fibers are extracted from banana trees and then woven together. This unique fabric is stronger than cotton or silk.

Human DNA is 50 percent identical to the DNA of … bananas.

 

Broccoli

Most people don't like broccoli because of its bitter taste. It is said that the 41st President of the United States, George W. Bush, hated broccoli so much that he forbade even bringing it to the White House.

If you want to reduce your cholesterol level, it is best to eat broccoli steamed.

Raw broccoli contains cancer-fighting compounds.

The part of broccoli that we usually eat is actually the inflorescences that haven't bloomed yet.

There are slightly more nutrients in broccoli inflorescences than in the stems, and the leaves that we usually throw away contain some nutrients that are not in either the stems or the inflorescences.

 

Avocado

Avocados contain seeds, so they are fruits.

Although they are high in fat, they can help lower cholesterol. The fat in avocados also helps the body absorb nutrients from other foods, such as tomatoes.

 

Potatoes

White potatoes were first grown by Indians in the Andes (South America). They appeared in Europe in 1586, and in North America in 1719.

In Europe, potatoes were first grown as a decorative plant, and jams were made from them.

Potatoes are the fourth most cultivated crop in the world – only corn, rice, and wheat are grown more.

Potatoes are relatively high in potassium, which we need to help strengthen muscles and control blood pressure. Potatoes have no fat and are a good source of vitamins and iron. Potatoes also have the highest satiety index.

Most of the nutrients in potatoes are located just under their thin skin - so it is recommended to boil them with the whole skin and peel them after they are already cooked.

Baked potatoes with the skin on are also a good source of fiber.

A medium-sized potato contains 35 percent of the amount of vitamin C needed by an adult.

Potatoes contain only 20% of solids, the other 80% is water.

Germans eat twice as many potatoes as Americans.

The potato disease 'Late Blight' was the main cause of the Irish Potato Famine (Gorta Mór 1845-1849). During the Great Famine, about a million people died, and over a million left the country, causing the country's population to decrease by 20-25%, in some cities as much as 67%.

It is believed that French fries appeared in America thanks to Thomas Jefferson, who in 1784 brought the French fries recipe to the United States.

In the 17th century, potatoes were served as a dessert at the Russian court. They are said to be boiled and generously sprinkled with sugar before serving.

The potato was the first plant grown in space. In 1995, seed potatoes were delivered by the space shuttle Columbia to the International Space Station (ISS). As a result, potato cultivation technology was developed, which made it possible to obtain a new crop every 40 to 50 days.

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes come from South America, where the Aztecs and Incas grew them back in 700 BC. Europeans first learned about tomatoes in the 16th century, and they quickly became popular in the Mediterranean countries, but in the countries of Northern Europe, especially in England, they were considered beautiful, but poisonous. In a gardening manual published in Denmark in 1774, they were described as follows: "These fruits are extremely harmful because they drive those who consume these fruits crazy."

In ancient Russia tomatoes were called "crazy berries".

Tomatoes are fruits, but in the USA they are legally considered vegetables. In the 1800s, vegetables were taxed in New York Harbor, but not fruits. The importer, who wanted to cut costs, went to court, claiming that the tomatoes he imported were fruits. The case reached the Supreme Court, which in 1893 ruled that in "ordinary language" products that are often served with meat or fish are vegetables.

Tomatoes are very rich in carotenoid lycopene. Eating foods containing carotenoids (including carrots, spinach, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens) may reduce the risk of cancer.

Cornell University scientists have identified two substances in tomatoes that fight cancer - P-carminic acid and halogenic acid.

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A and C.

Tomatoes are consumed in the US more than any other fruit or vegetable. Most tomatoes are grown in Florida.

There are several thousand different varieties of tomatoes.

Tomatoes belong to the Solanaceae family and are therefore "relatives" of potatoes, paprika, pepper, eggplant, and petunias.

The French used to call tomatoes “apples of love”.

Tomatoes have more genes than humans.

 

Figs

Figs are believed to be the first fruit to be deliberately cultivated (developed/improved).

Figs are very high in calcium – dried figs have as much calcium as the same amount of milk. And unlike milk, figs are also an excellent source of fiber. Unfortunately, they are also high in sugar and calories.

 

Blackberries

Blackberries are not actually berries

In the vegetable world, blackberries, raspberries, and even strawberries are not berries, but clusters of fruits consisting of many fused small fruits.

 

Kiwi

Kiwi contains twice as much vitamin C as oranges. They also contain many other vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, which makes them a good alternative to bananas as a source of potassium.

 

Apples

Apples are the most common fruit in the world — their total harvest in the world exceeds 50,000,000 tons. Most apples are grown in China and the USA.

There are more than 7,000 different varieties of apples worldwide.

Apples are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. And they, like pears, cherries, plums, and raspberries, are plants of the Rose family. Maybe that's why they smell so sweet and tempting?

Apples give us more energy than coffee (apples give us energy, and coffee "invigorates").

Apples float in water because they contain 25% of air.

Most apple trees are grown from cuttings, so in fact, all apple trees are clones, not brothers and sisters.

The remains of apples were found in prehistoric settlements dating back to 6500 BC, and some varieties of apples of that time still exist today – we can try the very apples that our ancient ancestors ate.

Thanks to innovative storage systems, apples can be "put to sleep" and stored for six months to a year.

One apple tree can produce up to 400 apples a year.

 

Oranges

Not all oranges are orange. In subtropical regions, such as Brazil, where some types of oranges are grown, the temperature is not high enough for the orange peel to turn orange. This means that orange can remain green or yellow even when it is fully ripe!

Oranges as we know them do not exist in the wild. Wild oranges are something in between pomelo and tangerine.

The color orange was named after the orange, not the other way around. Before that, a similar color was called 'geoluread' in Old English, meaning 'yellow-red'.

 

Pineapples

Pineapples appeared in Europe for the first time in 1496, when Christopher Columbus brought them back from his second voyage to America, but they began to be grown (in greenhouses) only in 1658 in the Netherlands, in 1719 in England and in 1730 in France.

Originally, the word "pineapple" was used to refer to cedar cones. When Europeans first encountered these fruits in America, they started calling them pineapples because they looked like pine cones.

Each pineapple (plant) produces only one pineapple per year.

Specialists still do not agree on whether pineapple is a fruit or a vegetable. It largely depends on how fruits and vegetables are defined. According to, for example, this definition: "A vegetable is the edible part of a plant", pineapples are vegetables, but then all other fruits are also vegetables 😊.

During the reign of Catherine II in Russia, the pineapple was widely used at noble feasts. He was presented in a completely unusual way. For example, Count Alexander Stroganov is said to have tried a salad of pineapples pickled in vinegar, and Count Zavadsky is said to have whittled and pickled pineapples like cabbage, stored them in barrels, and cooked borscht and other soups from them.

In the 18th century, the Russian Empire was the largest exporter of pineapples to Western Europe. The price of one fruit was then equal to the price of a cow.

 

Carrots

Wild carrots were originally purple, occasionally white. The carrot that we know today appeared as a result of breeding in the 16th century, in Holland.

During the Second World War, the British spread the myth that eating carrots improves night vision — statements were published in the press that British pilots ate a lot of carrots to ensure excellent night vision. This was done in order to mislead Germany about the military potential of Britain, which used radars to intercept bombers at night.

In 1979, the EU passed a directive classifying carrots as a fruit. This allowed the Portuguese to continue the production and export of carrot jam because according to European standards, jams contain more than 60% of sugar and are made only from fruit.

 

Grapefruit

Grapefruit interacts with some medications and can enhance or weaken their effect. It is estimated that grapefruit juice interacts with 85 different medications, and half of these interactions are potentially dangerous.

 

Green peas

Peas were the first vegetable to be canned in a tin can.

Peas helped Gregor Mendel discover several laws of genetics that helped stimulate rapid advances in genetics and plant breeding in the last century.

Peas were one of the favorite vegetables of the third President of the United States, Thomas Jefferson. He announced a competition every year for the first crop of peas. The winner of the contest invited the other contestants to dinner, saying that the peas were ready to eat.

 

Coffee

Coffee beans are not really beans, but seeds — the seeds of a berry similar to a cherry.

According to legend, the effects of caffeine were discovered in the 9th century in Ethiopia, when goat herders noticed that goats began to “dance” after eating the fruit of the Coffea plant. A shepherd shared his observations with local monks. Monks made a drink from this plant and found that it allowed them to stay awake all night. This discovery became known to other Ethiopian monks and soon after reached ordinary mortals as well.

The word "coffee" comes from the Arabic word قَهْوَة‎ (qahwa), which originally referred to wine traditionally mixed and served hot. "Qahwa" later became "kahveh" in Turkish and then "koffie" in Dutch. Other sources claim that the name is related to the name of the Kaffa region of Ethiopia, which is related to the word "coffee" in other major European languages.

Coffee is consumed in such huge quantities that it ranks second in the world in terms of trade volume - just behind crude oil.

In Mecca, coffee was banned in 1511, because local authorities believed that it provoked "radical thinking." Coffee was also tried to be banned by some Italian priests of the 16th century, who called the drink "Satanic". On the other hand, Pope Clement VII loved coffee so much that he lifted the ban and baptized him in 1600.

Asian palm civets droppings (yes, you read that right) are used to make one of the most expensive types of coffee called Kopi luwak, also known as “cat poo coffee”. Coffee is made in Indonesia from the berries of the Coffea bush that have been eaten, digested, and then pooped out by a mammal. The beans are then cleaned and processed. Ranging in price from $35 to $100 per cup, or roughly $100 to $600 per pound, this is the world's most expensive coffee.

Finland drinks the most coffee in the world. Finnish adults consume on average around 12.5 kilograms of coffee per year. Norway is in second place, Iceland in third place, and Denmark in fourth place.

Those who drink coffee live longer than those who don't. Moderate coffee intake (about 3-4 cups per day) is associated with longer life expectancy and a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson's disease.

The label Caffeine-free does not mean that this product does not contain caffeine. According to the Mayo Clinic, 8 ounces (226.8 g) of decaffeinated coffee contains between two and 12 milligrams of caffeine. A standard cup of coffee contains 95 to 200 milligrams of caffeine, and a 0.33-liter cola contains 23 to 35 milligrams.

Adding cream to coffee keeps it warm for 20% longer.

In ancient Arab culture, a woman could use the fact that her husband did not bring her fresh coffee in the morning as a legal "ground" for divorce.

Beethoven was said to be such an ardent coffee lover that he counted 60 beans before making each cup of coffee.

Initially, to get an “energy snack”, coffee berries were mixed with fat. The pulp of the coffee tree berries was also fermented to produce a drink similar to wine.

The volume of the largest cup of coffee is 22,739.14 liters – Guinness World Record in 2019.

Starbucks, 47 years after opening its first store in Seattle, now open an average of two stores a day.

 

And more:

Fruits do not "die" when they are picked. They continue to respond to external environmental stimuli.

Lotus is classified as a vegetable and its roots are used as food in Asian cuisine.

A medium-sized pomegranate contains between 200 and 1,400 seeds.

Arctic horseradish is one of the most interesting vegetables in the world. They grow in Greenland along the coast of the Arctic Ocean and bloom even in severe frosts. The Northern peoples use it as a remedy for scurvy.

In ancient Greece, onions were considered a sacred vegetable — a symbol of the structure of the universe. They were eaten by both the poor and the aristocrats. To suppress the smell of onions, they ate walnuts and parsley.

Some Japanese farmers grow cubed watermelons - to make them easier to store and transport.

Watermelons are about 92 percent water, so they have long been used as a source of water for both humans and animals in many parts of Africa.

If you eat the miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) all acidic foods will seem sweet to you for several hours. This fruit contains miraculin, which "turns off" the receptors responsible for the perception of sour taste.

Jackfruit is considered the largest fruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus), whose fruits often reach a weight of 20-25 kg.

The most expensive fruit is considered to be a special type of mango, which is called the "egg of the sun".  They are grown under special conditions in Japan and weigh at least 350 grams. One "solar egg" costs about one and a half thousand dollars.

Rambutan is considered the smallest fruit in the world (Nephelium lappaceum). It is found in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. Rambutans are delicious, but a large portion of the fruit is occupied by a massive bone.

Durian (Durio zibethinus) is considered the strangest fruit. Durian is grown in Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and southern Thailand. Although durian has a mildly sweet taste, it is rarely exported due to its pungent and persistent smell - transport companies refuse to carry them. Some consider durian to have a pleasantly sweet aroma, but most describe it as smelling like rotten onions, rotten eggs, sewage, or turpentine. It is said that even lovers of these fruits try not to breathe while eating them.

In the past, turnips were sown by spitting the seeds out of their mouths, as their seeds are very small and difficult to scatter by hand. The best spits were especially revered because it was by no means an easy job.

Beetroot decoction was used as a disinfectant in Russia.

In England at the beginning of the 18th century, cucumbers were believed to cool the body and cause colds.

Peanuts are not actually nuts, but beans.

Cherry growers in the US hire helicopters to dry the trees after rain to preserve the crop.

Rhubarb leaves contain kidney-damaging and potentially fatal amounts of oxalic acid, but the stems are perfectly safe to eat.

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