Ever wonder why asparagus makes your pee smell funny or why people on certain medications should avoid grapefruit? Chemistry has the answer!
Do you know which popular holiday spice can help soothe a toothache? Or why chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats?
By digging deep into the molecular chemistry of everyday foods and spices, Cambridge-based chemistry teacher Andy Brunning has the answers.
And you don’t have to be a chemistry-expert to understand them.
Brunning heads the popular science websiteCompound Interest and recently published the book “Why Does Asparagus Make Your Wee Smell?: And 57 other curious food and drink questions.”
Here are 15 of Brunning’s amazing graphics about the chemistry of asparagus, cloves, coffee, nutmeg, and much more:
When your doctor says don’t eat grapefruit, she means it! Grapefruit contains compounds that can prevent your body from breaking down certain medications, including some statin drugs to lower cholesterol, like Lipitor, and some antihistamines, like Allegra.
Clove oil is rich in a compound called eugenol, which has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that can ease dental pain.
Leaves from the coriander plant are a popular ingredient in Indian cuisine. But the leaves can sometimes taste soapy. That’s because they contain similar aldehyde compounds found in many soaps and lotions.
Ethyl formate is a ubiquitous compound that smells like rum and gives raspberries their delicious flavor. It’s also present in bee stingers, ant bodies, and the center of our galaxy.
Nutmeg is famous — at least anecdotally — for having allegedly hallucinogenic properties when taken in high doses but beware: Its other side effects are far less appealing and include vomiting, nausea, and elevated heart rate.
Scientists aren’t positive why asparagus makes our urine smell funny, but they suspect it has something to do with a unique compound found only in asparagus called asparagusic acid.
If you’re a lover of beets then you’ve probably had a few cases of “beeturia,” the passing of reddish urine. This discoloration happens when the acid in our stomachs isn’t strong enough to break down betanin — the compound that makes beets red.
Tea has a common compound called catechins. The substances richest in these compounds, which some research suggests could be good for heart health, are cocoa and prune juice.
Most of that distinctive flavor and bitterness we adore in coffee only gets released once the beans are roasted. The roasting process breaks down chlorogenic acids to produce a new set of compounds that give it that iconic coffee flavor.
Honey will never go bad and here’s why: Honey is relatively acidic and contains traces of hydrogen peroxide that would kill any bacteria that might spoil it.
Source: Compound Interest graphics on food – Business Insider