Smart Food, Junk Food

Updated February 21, 2017 | Factmonster Staff

Food for health and well-being is not a new idea. The Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans believed that certain foods were natural cure-alls. Poppy juice was used to kill pain, strawberry roots to treat mad-dog bites. Crocodile blood was recommended for failing eyesight. Here are some foods that are currently thought to be good for you.

Smart FoodWhy
BananaContains potassium and helps to prevent ulcers.
BarleyLowers cholesterol because it is high in the good fat (HDLs, high-density lipoproteins).
CheeseFights cavities because it contains calcium.
Chili peppersGood for bronchitis, colds, and sinusitis.
CucumberBreaks up cholesterol deposits.
FigsHelps to stabilize blood sugar, which keeps energy levels high.
FiberIt helps to rid your body of waste and also makes you feel full. Fiber is found in fruits and vegetables and whole-grain cereal. It is not digestible.
HorseradishIt's sharp and strong, but fights colds because the root contains an antibiotic and vitamin C.
KaleContains calcium for building bones plus the same beta carotene found in carrots that helps fight germs.
Milk (low fat)Contains calcium, which helps to build strong teeth and bones.
PrunesAn excellent natural laxative because of their fiber content.
YogurtThe live culture in yogurt acidophilus helps the body to fight intestine and yeast infections.
WaterThe best liquid to drink because it purifies your bloodstream and cleans your cells and tissues.

You may want these junk foods, but try to stay away!

Junk FoodWhy
Cakes and cookiesContain too much sugar and not enough vitamins and minerals.
ColasHave lots of sugar and few nutrients; may contain caffeine, an addictive drug.
Ice creamHas many nutrients but is full of sugar and fats.
Imitation fruit drinksMostly sugar and water, with artificial flavors and colors added. Contain very little pure fruit juice.
Potato chipsAlthough made from potatoes, they are deep fried and contain lots of salt and fat.
Sugar-coated cerealHalf cereal and half sugar.

Fast Food: Quick Tips If You Must

Until recently, fast-food restaurants were a nutritional nightmare. Today you can eat well if you are careful to order the right dishes.

Burger KingBK broiler (chicken sandwich)8g267
HardeesReal lean deluxe burger13g340
Kentucky Fried ChickenSkinfree crispy12g220
Wendy'sGrilled chicken sandwich9g320

Food Facts

Pizza may have many toppings. The first pizza, served to Queen Margharita of Italy, was garnished with the colors of the Italian flag: white cheese, green basil, and red tomatoes.

Are french fries from France? Is chop suey Chinese? Here are some common but mistaken beliefs about food and eating.

French fries are not from France. They were first made in Belgium in 1876. The term “french” refers to the way of cutting the potatoes before cooking.

Chop suey was created in America by a Chinese cook who worked in a California mining camp in the 1800s. He stir-fried a variety of vegetables, called it tsa sui, Mandarin Chinese for “various things,” so people called it chop suey.

Almost everyone associates potatoes with Ireland. Although they are its main crop, the potato is a plant originally from Peru, and was brought to Europe by explorers.

The next time someone says you “eat like a pig,” take it as a compliment! Pigs don't overeat, and their diet is the closest to the human diet of any other animal.

In Morocco, schoolboys are given roasted hedgehog liver to help them remember their studies.

Cool off with ice cream? Wrong. Ice cream feels cool, but it is loaded with calories (units of heat) and actually makes your body warmer.

“Eating like a bird” means not eating much. In fact, birds eat a lot, and they eat frequently because of their high metabolism (the body's way of making food into energy).

If sandwiches were named after John Montagu, the fourth earl of Sandwich, why aren't they called Montagus?

If melba toast and peach melba were named after Dame Nellie Melba, whose real name was Helen Porter Mitchell, why aren't they called Mitchell toast and Peach Mitchell?

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