Food facts: Allspice - Avocados

Facts and quirky pieces of information about the food we eat always interest me, both from an historical and a nutritional point of view.

Did you know that people who eat a fair amount of fish have lower chances of depression? Or that Australians on average eat 8 - 9 times more salt per day than is required by our bodies.

Up until just over 100 years ago Americans didn't eat tomatoes - they thought they were poisonous! I'm including lots of these food facts on each of the recipe pages on this web site. More are listed here on this page:

 

Allspice

Despite its name this is a single spice and not a combination of spices. It is a spice that is usually purchased in its ground form although it is better to buy it in its whole form and grind it just prior to use. It is a small dried berry from a tropical south American tree. It tastes like a mixture of cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. It is used mainly in sweet baking, such as in biscuits and cakes but can also be used in meat dishes such as stews.

Almonds

Almonds date back to the Old Testament and they are part of the cherry, plum and peach family. Almonds are a good source of vegetable protein and they are highly suitable for vegetarians and vegans. They are considered to decrease coronary heart disease risk factors. They help lower the bad cholesterol, LDL. They have a high content of minerals, magnesium, potassium, phosphorous and calcium.

Amaranth

Amaranth is considered a "super" grain because it has exceptional nutritional values - it contains all the essential amino acids. It is a native to Mexico and was a sacred food of the Aztecs. Amaranth can be eaten as a vegetable or as a grain. It has a peppery flavour and can be ground into flour. This flour is often used in conjunction with other flours because it doesn't have gluten in it so it can be more difficult to cook with by itself. Amaranth has leaves similar to spinach and these leaves can be eaten cooked or used raw in salads. Amaranth is high in protein and is a good source of iron and calcium.

Apples

A medium apple has about 80 calories. 25% of an apple's volume is air - that is why they float. Apples cleanse and purify the blood and the liver. They are a good source of vitamin C and fibre. Remember your Gran's old saying "An apple a day keeps the doctor away". Well it's pretty good advice. Remember to eat the skin if you want to maximize the fibre. Eating an apple decreases the chances of tooth cavities by cleaning the teeth and massaging the gums.

Apricots

Apricots were first found growing wild in China. They have been around for 4,000 years. Apricots are rich in beta carotene, minerals and vitamin A plus they are a good source of fibre.

Asparagus

Asparagus is a member of the Lily family. It was consumed for its medicinal qualities before it was ever eaten as a food. It was very highly regarded back in the Roman days. There are now over 120 species of asparagus. Growing from seed it takes 3 years to cultivate Asparagus which may explain the price we pay for it. Young asparagus shoots are cooked by steaming or blanching. Asparagus has great stores of Vitamin C and can be used as a laxative and diuretic

Aubergine (Eggplant)

The aubergine gets its nickname - eggplant - from an American variety which is an ivory white colour and shaped like an egg. In Australia we generally see the large purple aubergines that have shiny skins. Aubergines are often used in casseroles and in tomato flavoured dishes although they are also tasty grilled or baked. Aubergines are full of vitamin C and they also have substantial amounts of iron, calcium, potassium and the B group of vitamins. We eat them as a vegetable but they are actually fruits.

Avocados

Avocados provide more than 25 essential nutrients, including fibre, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins folic acid and lutein. The phyto chemicals they contain are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in foods that may prevent disease and preserve good health. Vit. E is a powerful anti oxidant that is known to fight cancer, to slow aging and to protect against heart disease . Lutein is believed to protect against prostate cancer and eye disease such as cataracts and macular degeneration. Avocados contain 60% more potassium than bananas contain. They are high in fat but they contain mono unsaturated fats which are good for the heart. Because they are high in fat they contain more calories than other fruits and vegetables do. One avocado contains about 300 calories. Avocados are native to central America and it is believed the Aztecs regarded them as a sexual stimulant.

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Read other interesting food facts (in alphabetical order):

Allspice - Avocados
Allspice, almonds,amaranth, apples, apricots, asparagus, aubergines, avocados

Bananas - Buckwheat
Bananas, barley, basil, bay leaves, beans, beetroot, black berries, black currants, blueberries, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, buckwheat

Cabbage - Chestnuts
Cabbage, capsicum, caraway, cardamom, carrots, cashews, cauliflower, cayenne, celeriac, celery, cheese, cherries, chestnuts

Chicken - Cumin
Chicken, chickpeas, chicory, chilies, chives, cinnamon, cloves, coconut, coriander, corn, couscous, cucumbers, cumin

Dates - Fish
Dates, dill, eggplant, eggs, fennel, fenugreek, figs, fish

Galangal - Green Beans
Galangal, garlic, ginger, globe artichokes, gooseberries, grapefruit, grapes, green beans

Hazelnuts - Limes
Hazel nuts, honey, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kafir lime leaves, kale, leeks, lemon balm, lemon grass, lemons, lentils, lettuce, limes

Macadamia Nuts - Mustard
Macadamia nuts, mace, mandarins, mangoes, maple syrup, marjoram, mar ow, melons, milk, millet, mint, miso, molasses, mushrooms, mustard

Nectarines - Oregano
Nectarines, nutmeg, oats, olive oil, onions, oranges, oregano

Papayas - Pumpkin
Papayas, paprika, parsley, parsnips, peaches, peanuts, pears, peas, pecans, pineapples, pine nuts, plums, potatoes, pumpkin

Quince - Rye
Quinces, quinoa, radishes, raspberries, rice, rosemary, rye

Sage - Sweet Corn
Sage, sea vegetables, seeds, silver beet, soy sauce, sprouted seeds, squash, strawberries, swede, sweet corn

Tamari - Zucchini
Tamari, tarragon, tempeh, thyme, tofu, tomatoes, triticale, turkey, turmeric, turnips, vanilla, walnuts, wheat, zucchini