The 6 strangest things we learned in 2015

At Heart Matters magazine, we try to inform and inspire on subjects ranging from from a healthy diet, to medications, to looking after your heart. We’ve looked back at Heart Matters over the past year to highlight the most bizarre facts we brought you.

1. Pickled onions and gherkins don’t count as your 5 a day

5-a-day-pickled-gherkins

Dom Dada / Via Flickr.com 

Pickled vegetables are often found bobbing around in a glass jar atop a shiny mahogany bar top in a creaky old pub. Unattractive looking things – pickled onions resemble eyeballs and pickled gherkins look like frog specimens from the science lab. Poor ’ickle things, it’s not even their fault they’ve been knocked off the 5-a-day list, it’s the salty brine they’re swimming in.

2. There’s a cheese with maggots in

Casu Marzu cheese

Shardan / Via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re of a squeamish disposition, look away now. Casu Marzu is a traditional Sardinian sheep milk cheese full of maggots. It’s created by leaving whole Pecorino cheeses outside with part of the rind removed to allow the eggs of the cheese fly to be laid in it.

Luckily, there are many other more appetising cheeses out there. We give a guide to which are better or worse choices when it comes to heart health.

3. Granola isn’t that good for you

Granola

Sarah Gilbert / Via Flickr.com 

You think granola is your friend - and then it turns around and goes ‘ha fooled ya!’ It’s a cereal; it isn’t shaped in stars or hearts; and it’s not wearing a shiny coat of sugar.

But don’t be fooled by those innocent-looking nuts and raisins. An average portion of granola with nuts and full fat milk packs a hefty punch at 261kcal and 12.8g of fat. Ouch!

4. There’s a bread for every letter of the alphabet

Zopf

ClaudiaMalin0408 / Via Flickr.com

Well, perhaps not the letter X… But when it comes to every other letter, human beings have devised almost infinitely ingenious ways of using flour. 

From Arepa to Zopf, we’ve given a guide to all kinds of bread from around the world, and which are the best choices for your health.

5. Being short puts you at higher risk of heart disease

Tiptoes on a brick  

Gareth / Via Flickr

There are some downright bizarre things that have been linked to heart disease. But the one that surprised us the most was that us vertically challenged people could have an increased risk of heart disease.

Until recently it was thought this was caused by environmental factors, such as nutrition, but new research suggests there is a genetic link between the two. Further exploration of these genes may suggest new ways to reduce the risk of heart and circulatory disease.

6. There’s a medicine derived from Brazilian viper venom

Brazilian viper Jararaca

Pedrinho / Via Wikimedia Commons

The medicines we need to take for cardiovascular diseases might come in the form of innocuous little pills, but what’s really in them?

ACE inhibitors are often prescribed following a heart attack. One of the first ACE inhibitors was derived from venom from a poisonous Brazilian viper. It’s rarely prescribed today, but it has helped millions of people to manage their blood pressure. 

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