People are prepared to eat some seriously weird things in the name of health. Whether it’s tablets of cod liver oil or bottles of kombucha tea, we’re willing to give anything a chance if it means we might live for five minutes longer.
Most healthy food is relatively inoffensive. Though there are fussy children who might disagree, it’s tough to get too riled up about carrots and kale. But even superfoods are not exempt from the hidden horrors that plague the rest of the foodieverse. This list contains the seven absolute worst.
7. Beef Brains
However you spin it, there’s something gruesome about eating brains. Though many of us keep our inner zombie securely under lock and key, it turns out that cow (specifically calf) brains have a surprising number of hidden benefits. Incredibly rich in omega-3 fatty acids, beef brain is a rich, if slightly grisly, source of nutrients.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that these small, tender white beads were a form of strange fruit or bean. The reality is a whole lot less appetising. Despite having one of the healthiest omega-3/omega-6 ratios of any food on earth, many wouldbe diners are less than enthusiastic about the idea of eating fish testicles, complete with semen.
5. Tiet Canh
Anyone who’s had a big bowl of broth on a cold winter’s day knows how healthful and hearty soup can be. Unfortunately, one of the healthiest is also one of the grimmest. Tiet Canh is a protein powerpack, made from duck meat. But, before gym buffs tuck in, they should be advised that the soup gets its distinctive colour from the raw duck blood that squeezed in to finish it off.
No normal person looks at the scum on the surface of a pond and thinks, “yum”. It turns out that health food fans are not normal people. This blue green algae extract is a rich source of essential vitamins and minerals, particularly riboflavin, iron and potassium. It’s just a shame that it comes from something you find floating on a river.
There are many exceptionally healthy things that look absolutely horrible, and natto is a prime example. These fermented soybeans look more like rotten strands of snot than anything someone should put in their mouths. Though natto is rich in vitamin K, calcium and zinc, it’s powerful and pungent smell is enough to put all but the bravest dieter back in their place.
At first glance, you could be forgiven for thinking that a bowl of beondegi is little more than a selection of oversized Coco-Pops. Upon closer examination, it’s all too obvious that there’s something amiss with these squidgy morsels. Though they are a great source of protein, this tradition Korean street snack is in fact made cooked silkworm larvae.
1. Yartsa Gunbu
Though most of this is slightly nauseating, yartsa gunbu comes straight out of a horror movie. This extraordinary food is formed from the desiccated remains of the Tibetan ghost moth after it is invaded by a type of caterpillar fungus. The fungus mummifies the caterpillar and leaves it clinging to the branch of the nearest tree, having sucked it dry. Despite its gruesome lifestyle, yartsa gunbu is one of the most sought after health foods in the world and is a key ingredient in a range of traditional medicines.
Everybody likes the idea of being healthy. Some are even prepared to make some serious sacrifices in order to achieve it. But surely, for all but the most committed health nut, these seven might be a bridge too far.