Nutrition science used to tell us that food was basically just made up of three different compounds: fat, sugar, and protein. The paradigm was so simple and so easy to understand that it stuck, and this remains how most of us interpret food. But it’s worth pointing out that food is a lot more complicated than different arrangements of chemicals you could find in a lab. It’s made up of thousands of different compounds, each of which has myriad synergistic effects, sometimes producing some pretty weird results.
Here are some common and weird side-effects of eating regular, everyday foods.
Margarine Makes You Aggressive
Margarine is the cheap alternative to butter, promoted back in the 1970s by the American Heart Association for being heart healthy. By recommending that people eat margarine instead of butter, the AMA hoped that they would be helping people avoid heart disease. But instead, they found that their dietary advice was making people aggressive. It turned out that the problem was a type of fat in margarine called dTFAs, or dietary trans-fatty acids. According to researchers at the UC San Diego Department of Medicine, these fats made people more likely to be aggressive, according to their “overt aggression” scale.
Onions Make Your Pee Smell
If you wake up one morning and your urine smells awful, it might not be anything to worry about, even if you haven’t eaten asparagus the night before. Another reason your pee could smell is because you’ve been scoffing your way through bowl after bowl of French onion soup and coleslaw. This is nothing to worry about: it’s just the result of the sulfurous compound in onions – or other vegetables in the allium family (garlic/leeks) – coming out the other end.
Alcohol Boosts Your Subconscious Memory Capacity
Alcohol is often associated with memory loss (usually conveniently in order to escape blame for various transgressions). But now science is discovering that drinking alcohol might actually boost subconscious memory, a type of memory that is only rarely called upon.
The reason for this is because alcohol causes dopamine to be released in the brain. Increased levels of dopamine lead to a “buzz” most people associate with being tipsy. Increased levels of dopamine, however, also result in better subconscious memory capacity, helping your brain to create new memories.
Looking At Meat Calms Men Down
Next time your boyfriend or husband is looking stressed, show them a big, fat juicy steak – it calms them down, apparently. Researchers at McGill University in Canada came up with an experiment which tried to discover how aggression levels in men varied, depending on what images they were looking at. An actor read aloud a story, and the men looked through pictures corresponding to the story. If the actor made a mistake in reading the story, the men were allowed to punish the actor with loud noises. The experiment found that when men were looking at pictures of meat, they were less likely to inflict extreme punishments on the actor. The scientists suggested, therefore, that meat calms men down.