Also referred to as Chinese parsley or coriander, cilantro is oddly controversial. You probably know a few people who describe this herb as tasting pungent and soapy. You may even be one of them, frustrated and puzzled as to why no one else seems to notice the unpleasant taste. Food science may finally vindicate you, as it seems that some people are genetically predisposed to detect the soapy taste more than others.
Not only are certain people more sensitive to compounds present in cilantro called (E)-2-alkenals and n-aldehydes, but they may also have a genetic variant of olfactory receptors on the taste buds that makes them more sensitive to the soapy taste in the herb. One additional compound naturally found in cilantro was also implicated in the soapy taste. The name of the compound is S-linalool, and it’s often added to skincare, pest repellants, and cleaning products to impart a pleasant smell. So if you feel an aversion to cilantro and want it off the menu for good, these scientific findings can help justify your choice - both to yourself and others!
2. Pine nuts
An essential ingredient in pesto and a tasty companion to fish and side dishes, pine nuts are notorious for giving “pine mouth” to some individuals. This poorly understood side effect is also known as pine nut syndrome, and its only symptom is a bitter metallic taste in the mouth that can last for up to a month!
Pine mouth usually begins 12-48 hours after pine nut consumption, and it feels like having a coin in your mouth. Scientists are not certain of the cause of the metallic taste, but they note that pine nuts from China are more likely to trigger the bizarre side effect, likely due to a specific lipid naturally found in the nuts.
3. Orange juice
Like all citrus juices, oranges are natural diuretics, but other than that, they are pretty unremarkable on their own. It is when you combine orange juice with brushing your teeth that the weirdness begins. If you drink orange juice right after brushing your teeth, you’ll notice that it tastes very bitter.
And you can blame one ingredient for this shocking taste - sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). This cleansing agent is known as a surfactant, and what makes products like soap, shower gel, shaving cream, and toothpaste lather. Coincidentally, SLS can also suppress the olfactory receptors on the tongue responsible for the detection of sweet things and amplify those that identify bitterness.
As a result, acidity and bitterness are all your taste buds can identify when you drink orange juice. If you want to reduce the bitter taste, just rinse your mouth thoroughly after brushing your teeth and wait 10-15 minutes before you drink orange juice. Alternatively, you can buy a toothpaste that doesn’t contain SLS.
Have you ever noticed that eating spinach made your mouth and teeth feel rough or chalky? This effect is more prominent when you combine these leafy greens with calcium-rich foods like dairy, and it is more likely to happen with raw than cooked spinach. Chewing releases the oxalic acid from spinach, and it then mixes with calcium from spinach and other foods.
As a result of mixing these two compounds, tiny calcium oxalate crystals form in the mouth. These crystals, though microscopic, can create a gritty texture in the mouth. Luckily, the calcium oxalate crystals can be easily dissolved by cooking it down a little or adding a squeeze of lemon juice.
You’re surely familiar with beta-carotene, a bright orange antioxidant found in most orange fruits and vegetables. Without a doubt, beta-carotene is one of the healthiest food ingredients out there. It is transformed into vitamin A in our body and plays a key role in vision, bone growth, and immune health.
However, eating too many carrots can lead to something called carotenemia, or an orange tint to the skin. The orange tint is particularly apparent on the laugh lines, soles of the feet, and palms. Note that this condition is quite rare because one needs to consume 10 carrots worth of beta-carotene for at least a few weeks for the condition to appear.
6. Salty snacks
Some feel that eating salty snacks like popcorn or chips makes their lips fuller or even swollen, and they’re not wrong. Foods high in salt content promote water retention, which leads to puffy eyelids and swollen lips. This kind of puffiness is often accompanied by a whitish ring on the inside of the lips, and it shouldn’t be confused for an allergy, which usually causes more severe swelling that may be accompanied by itching, redness, and other allergy symptoms.
Unlike allergies, which require medications and possibly medical help too, water retention caused by salt is easily remedied by a glass of water.
Beets are nutritious and delicious, but if you don’t eat them very often, they can give you quite the scare. The thing is, beets are extremely rich in red and purple antioxidants called betalains, and not all of these antioxidants get absorbed by the body during digestion. So after enjoying a healthy glass of beet juice or a plateful of beetroot salad, you may notice that the next trip to the bathroom (both number 1 and number 2) has a pink or reddish tint.
No need to worry, it’s just a temporary effect of the beets. However, if the symptoms persist for several days and you notice other alarming signs, you’ll want to seek medical help.
You may have heard the rumors about asparagus. The healthy vegetable gives urine a terrible smell often compared to rotten cabbage. The culprit to blame is asparagusic acid, a compound found only in asparagus. The human body digests it into a sulfuric compound called mercaptan.
Most interestingly, studies show that not everyone can smell this unpleasant odor, so be careful with ordering asparagus at a restaurant if the possibility of spreading body odor terrifies you. The good news is that there are no health repercussions associated with asparagus urine.
9. Green tea
Known for its countless health benefits, green tea isn’t often associated with weird effects on the body. However, even this healthy drink isn’t tolerated by everyone. Some individuals can get nauseous after drinking green tea on an empty stomach. This happens because the tannins naturally present in green tea can irritate the stomach and increase acid production.
As a result, green tea could lead to nausea, acid reflux, and constipation. If this has ever happened to you but you still want to enjoy all the benefits green tea has to offer, here are two simple rules that can help.
First and foremost, lower the brewing temperature and time of green tea to no more than 160-180ºF (70-80ºC) and 2-3 minutes. This will decrease the number of tannins in your brew. And finally, follow the Chinese tradition of tea drinking and enjoy your green tea during or after a meal and never on an empty stomach. Chinese people drink tea with a meal because it improves digestion, reduces appetite, and prevents you from overeating.
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