Here’s “Just the Facts,” a series where we scour Greatist’s archives for the most vital need-to-know nuggets on any given subject. It’s the no-noise info you gotta have, the way you gotta have it.
Whether you consider yourself a food connoisseur or someone who isn’t very picky, food is obviously a life necessity.
And there’s much more to it than just taste. Nutrients, food prep, and culture-driven attitudes toward sustenance all influence multiple aspects of our physical and mental health. That’s before we even get started on the impact food can have both environmentally and socially.
All these considerations could make for an overwhelming buffet of info, so we’ve put together a more digestible menu for your enjoyment. Grab your cutlery and some napkins as we serve up 30 facts about food.
Between macros, nutrients, and calories, the food cup runneth over with numbers. Here are some interesting (and important) stats to keep in mind.
1. What goes in must come out
Ever ponder the time frame between food going in and waste coming out? Depending on the ingredient, it can be up to 3 days before you “say goodbye” to your lunch.
2. More people are starting to not have a cow, man
The environmental impact of meat and dairy production and consumption is encouraging many people to switch up their grocery lists — 16 percent of people in the United States now regularly opt for plant-based alternatives.
3. It takes finesse to hit the sweet spot
The recommended daily sugar intake is 25 grams for women and 36 grams for men — but what does that actually mean? From added sugars to naturally occurring sweetness, we’ve got the lowdown.
4. Fiber is a smooth operator
Consuming 22 to 34 grams of fiber per day is key for promoting good digestion and reducing risk of disease. But most of us aren’t even close to this target. These recipes will help you kick-start your day with a dose of fiber.
5. Protein is power
Our muscles, cells, bones, and organs all require protein, so it’s a tad important. The suggested intake is 46 to 75 grams per day for women and 56 to 91 grams per day for men. And you can find protein in lots of foods — not just a juicy steak.
From carrots to quinoa, salmon to seeds, you’re likely aware of some foods that can enhance well-being. But some come with health benefits you might not have guessed.
6. Nutrients can lift spirits
Nutrients such as vitamin B3, flavonoids, and omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to help ease symptoms of depression. And there are plenty of ways you can incorporate them into your daily diet.
7. There are dishes for DOMS
Want to help ease sore muscles after a tough workout? Once you’re finished with the foam roller, reach for one of these tasty ingredients.
8. Brain candy helps
We’re not telling you to raid your stash of Reese’s Pieces (sorry). But if you’ve got a big test or presentation coming up, chowing down on foods such as avocado, nuts, and berries could give your noggin a boost.
9. Some foods help you burst the bloat
Sure, some foods can encourage a bloat (we’re looking at you, beans). But others can help keep that tum in check. We’ve rounded up 35 of the best to munch on, from watermelon to eggplant.
Eating ingredients in their seasonal prime means you’ll enjoy them at their nutritional best. Plus, doing so is better for the planet, since seasonal produce is more likely to be sourced locally rather than having to travel 30,000 miles to reach your table.
10. Spring cleaning also applies to food
The transition to warmer months also means transitioning from hearty comfort foods to lighter ingredients. Berries are great for spring, as are fava beans and asparagus. These recipes will help you make the most of them all.
11. Cantaloupe is a hero of summer
This summertime classic is a seasonal hero to love: It’s low in calories and high in water content, and a serving provides your entire recommended daily intake of vitamins A and C.
12. Salad is a blank slate
Salads definitely don’t have to be boring. Incorporating seasonal summer ingredients (artichokes, broccoli, and strawberries are some of our faves) is a great way to create a delicious feast for your eyes and taste buds.
13. Winter fruits deserve love too
While there may not be *quite* as many seasonal fruits and veggies available during cooler temps, winter produce is still delicious and packed with healthy goodness. (And it’s not all about sprouts, either.)
Prepping food has earned a reputation for being a dull chore for a Sunday afternoon, but there are several approaches that could help liven — and speed — things up.
14. A mason jar is always a glass half full
Move over, plastic containers — it’s mason jar season. From pot pies and pancakes to sushi bowls and soup, the meals you can prep in these jars are endless — and they look pretty darn cool too.
15. Ice pops are a good way to keep snack time hot
If you want to ensure that you get your five a day but can’t bear yet another salad, prepping secretly healthy ice pops will bring a cool dose of fun and flavor to your snacking.
16. Flavor is portable
Food that doesn’t need to be unwrapped to be enjoyed? Um, yes, please. Prepping these dishes will make on-the-go eating easier than ever. (Just remember to wash those hands before you take a bite.)
17. Great meals can come in waves
Don’t have time to cook? Enter the humble microwave, useful for much more than just heating up cold coffee. You might be surprised how many tasty meals you can cook from scratch in the microwave.
Diets are fully ingrained in our culture, encompassing everything from weight loss to well-rounded nourishment. There are plenty of options you’ve probably heard about — but are they all bad?
If you’re looking to lose weight or change your diet in any significant way, speak with a health professional first to make sure it’s the best decision for you.
18. Slow and steady wins the race
If you’re on a quest to lose some weight, experts say a healthy rate for those pounds to drop off is 1 to 2 pounds per week.
19. Some diets can take you nowhere fast
You may have heard the phrase “There’s no quick fix.” This definitely applies to dieting. When it comes to crash diets, research shows that the main things your body will lose are water and muscle. So it’s best to take things slower.
20. Your body likes it when the diet speaks Greek
The Mediterranean diet has long been hailed for its health and weight loss benefits, and it doesn’t mean missing out on delicious ingredients. These recipes are bound to get your mouth watering.
21. Listening to your body > depriving it
Ignoring hunger pangs is NOT always advisable. “Conscious eating” is all about understanding what your body actually needs. Take your time enjoying (rather than inhaling) your food and recognize when you’re full.
22. Cleaning can be fun if you do it right
“Clean” eating means nourishing your body with wholesome ingredients that have plenty of nutritional value. It might sound boring, but these recipes might convince you otherwise.
Smoothie lovers have good reasons to be fans. Smoothies are portable, easy to make, and a great way to hit your daily fruit and veggie target.
23. There are plenty of ways to add java to your morning
You can add some nutritional oomph to your morning pick-me-up by incorporating coffee into a smoothie. It really is as delish as it sounds.
24. A good-for-you smoothie can also taste good
You don’t need to sacrifice flavor for health benefits. By blending both fruits and veggies into your smoothies, you’ll get a nutrient boost and some natural sweetness.
25. You can add some protein fuel to your smoothie fire
While we aren’t recommending that you try blending a steak, there are plenty of protein-rich ingredients you can incorporate into tasty smoothies for an easy body boost.
26. Smoothie quality doesn’t always depend on ingredient quantity
Fridge looking a bit bare? As these recipes prove, using just five ingredients can still provide a mighty punch of nutrition and taste.
Having a lot of food waste is not ideal. Storing food properly and repurposing leftovers are great ways to ensure that you maximize what you make.
27. You can spice up your food’s life after the first round
Just a quick sprinkle of herbs and spices can transform a bland meal into next-level deliciousness — but they need to be stored correctly to retain their flavor and nutritional value.
28. Proper food care now helps you avoid food disagreements later
Hooray for time-saving, boo to tummy troubles. When cooking, be sure to follow these golden rules so you don’t have to prematurely part ways with leftovers.
29. Freezing meals isn’t always as easy as it sounds
Freezers — the OGs of food storage — allow you to save money while extending the life of your food. But you can’t just throw things into a bag and hope for the best.
30. Having good leftovers is about knowing which foods can stand the (re)heat
We’re no strangers to eating cold pizza from the day(s) before. But what about adding heat to other leftovers? Check out this handy rundown on how to safely reheat and enjoy different meals the next day.
We don’t like to overindulge, so we’ll leave things there to settle. As we know, food can be as rich as life itself — and with a bit of creativity and understanding, we’ll tap into an abundance of health, wellness, and flavor.
Chantelle Pattemore is a writer and editor based in London, UK. She focuses on lifestyle, health, beauty, food, and fitness.