10 Weird (and Gross) Food Facts You Never Knew

Jacqueline Ho Aug 13th, 2014 (updated Oct 9th, 2014)
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You no doubt hear or read a lot about the health benefits or potential dangers of various foods. But you may not know that certain foods can make you happier or how others are made from insect parts.  Here are 10 strange food facts that will probably surprise you. 

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That liquid on top of your yogurt has a purpose
That liquid on top of your yogurt has a purpose

Have you ever opened a container of yogurt and poured out the liquid sitting on top? If so, don't next time. That liquid is known as whey, which contains protein, potassium and calcium. Better to  stir the whey in to add nutrition and make the yogurt creamier or simply shake the container before opening the lid.

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That liquid is also a topic of controversy
That liquid is also a topic of controversy

While that liquid on top of your yogurt is good for your health, it’s also the topic of controversy. When Greek yogurt is produced, so is a byproduct called acid whey. The problem with acid whey is that it is illegal to dump the waste product and whey decomposition is toxic to the environment. Read more about what to do with the acid whey.

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Your coffee actually is made from fruit
Your coffee actually is made from fruit

You know that coffee comes from coffee beans, but did you know that the “bean” actually comes from fruit? Coffee trees produce berries called coffee cherries, which are green at first, then turn bright red when ripe. The fruit itself is described as sweet and grape-like in texture. Underneath the fruit is a slimy protective layer and under that is the bluish-green coffee bean.

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Are pickles a vegetable or a fruit?
Are pickles a vegetable or a fruit?

Were you surprised when you first learned that a tomato is a fruit? Well, get this: Pickles may be considered both a vegetable and a fruit. Pickles are made from cucumbers, which are vegetables, but the U.S. Supreme Court has actually ruled that pickles are a ‘fruit of the vine’ because of their seeds.

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And what exactly is a coconut?
And what exactly is a coconut?

So, coffee beans come from fruit and pickles can technically be counted as a fruit. But what about coconuts—are they a fruit, a nut or a seed? Coconuts can actually be all three. According to botanists, a coconut is a drupe, which has three layers: the exocarp (outer layer), the mesocarp (fleshy middle layer) and the endocarp (hard layer that surrounds the seed).

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Eating kale may make you happier
Eating kale may make you happier

Here’s another health benefit of kale to add to the list. People who have higher levels of the plant compound carotenoids in their blood tend to be happier and more optimistic, according to research. Carotenoids are found in kale, as well as spinach, carrots and squash and researchers say eating two or three servings a day is enough to reap the benefits.

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Jelly beans may contain insect parts
Jelly beans may contain insect parts

Various candies—including jelly beans, many chocolates and chocolate-covered candies—are coated in shellac, which may not sound all that bad. However, while it’s recognized as safe for human consumption by the FDA, shellac is made from the excrement of an insect called Kerria lacca, which is scraped from tree branches, heated and liquefied.

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Your hamburger was not made from one cow
Your hamburger was not made from one cow

When you eat a hamburger, you might be under the impression that the meat came from one cow—if you even think about it at all. According to various studies, one hamburger can contain meat from 100 to 400 different cows. This isn’t necessarily dangerous unless meat from one cow turns out to be infected, which can contaminate up to 16 tons of beef in various food sources.

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Drinking from soda fountain machines isn't a good idea
Drinking from soda fountain machines isn't a good idea

Nearly 50 percent of soda fountain machines may be contaminated with fecal bacteria, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Food Microbiology. The researchers tested 90 beverages from 30 soda fountains and found coliform bacteria in 48 percent of the drinks—which could indicate possible fecal contamination—as well as antibiotic-resistant microbes and E.coli.