An English Plastic Surgeon Wants Avocados to Come With a Warning Label

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iStock

Avocados are loaded with healthy fats, but the fashionable fruits pose a serious health hazard for home chefs: As Konbini reports, emergency rooms in England are seeing an increase in knife-related hand injuries, all from people trying to prepare avocados. Surgeons chalk the phenomenon up to the food’s fairly recent trendiness and have coined a nickname, "avocado hand," for these types of wounds.

No official stats exist just yet, but according to The Times of London, a multitude of avocado-related accidents have led to "serious nerve and tendon injuries, requiring intricate surgery." Some patients have even lost function in their injured appendages.

On this side of the pond, according to The New York Times, "the United States [doesn’t] track kitchen injuries by ingredient," so it’s hard to know for sure how many people are being injured while prepping the fruit. That said, one Mental Floss editor is all too familiar with the dangers of avocados: "My boyfriend once sliced open his finger trying to pit an avocado," she says. "A lot of blood and a trip to Urgent Care later and he still can't bend the finger fully."

Things have gotten so out of, uh, hand in England's ER rooms that the British Association of Plastic, Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons is now cautioning avocado lovers about the safety risk. One noted plastic surgeon, Simon Eccles, even says the fruits need warning labels.

"It needs to be recognizable," Eccles—who treats an average of four patients a week for avocado-related accidents—tells The Times. "Perhaps we could have a cartoon picture of an avocado with a knife, and a big red cross going through it?"

Avocados are tricky to prep, thanks to their oval shapes, hard pits, and buttery texture. But to peel them, all one needs is a butter knife, or even a spoon—and judging from a bevy of gruesome ER pictures, many home chefs get knife-happy, and use sharp blades to slice and dice the food.

In short, choosing a sharp or serrated blade to cut a slippery, oblong fruit is definitely an avocadon't. Some advice: Steer clear of the chef knives the next time you’re in the mood for avocado toast, and opt for a blunt tool. Your hands (and wallet—ER trips are expensive) will thank you.

[h/t Konbini]

The Great Tryptophan Lie: Eating Turkey Does Not Make You Tired

H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images
H. Armstrong Roberts/iStock via Getty Images

While you’re battling your cousins for the best napping spot after Thanksgiving dinner, feel free to use this as a diversion tactic: It’s a myth that eating turkey makes you tired.

It’s true that turkey contains L-Tryptophan, an amino acid involved in sleep. Your body uses it to produce a B vitamin called niacin, which generates the neurotransmitter serotonin, which yields the hormone melatonin, which helps regulate your sleeping patterns. However, plenty of other common foods contain comparable levels of tryptophan, including other poultry, meat, cheese, yogurt, fish, and eggs.

Furthermore, in order for tryptophan to produce serotonin in your brain, it first has to make it across the blood-brain barrier, which many other amino acids are also trying to do. To give tryptophan a leg up in the competition, it needs the help of carbohydrates. Registered dietitian Elizabeth Somer tells WebMD that the best way to boost serotonin is to eat a small, all-carbohydrate snack a little while after you’ve eaten something that contains tryptophan, and the carbs will help ferry the tryptophan from your bloodstream to your brain.

But Thanksgiving isn’t exactly about eating small, well-timed snacks. It’s more about heaps of potatoes, mountains of stuffing, and generous globs of gravy—and that, along with alcohol, is more likely the reason you collapse into a spectacular food coma after your meal. Overeating (especially of foods high in fat) means your body has to work extra hard to digest everything. To get the job done, it redirects blood to the digestive system, leaving little energy for anything else. And since alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, it also slows down your brain and other organs.

In short, you can still hold turkey responsible for your Thanksgiving exhaustion, but you should make sure it knows it can share the blame with the homestyle mac and cheese, spiked apple cider, and second piece of pumpkin pie.

[h/t WebMD]

How Mammoth Poop Gave Us Pumpkin Pie

MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images
MargoeEdwards/iStock via Getty Images

When it’s time to express gratitude for the many privileges bestowed upon your family this Thanksgiving, don’t forget to be grateful for mammoth poop. The excrement of this long-extinct species is a big reason why holiday desserts taste so good.

Why? Because, as Smithsonian Insider reports, tens of thousands of years ago, mammoths, elephants, and mastodons had an affinity for wild gourds, the ancestors of squashes and pumpkin. In a 2015 study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a Smithsonian researcher and colleagues found that wild gourds—which were much smaller than our modern-day butternuts—carried a bitter-tasting toxin in their flesh that acted as a deterrent to some animals. While small rodents would avoid eating the gourds, the huge mammals would not. Their taste buds wouldn't pick up the bitter flavor and the toxin had no effect on them. Mammoths would eat the gourds and pass the indigestible seeds out in their feces. The seeds would then be plopped into whatever habitat range the mammoth was roaming in, complete with fertilizer.

When the mammoths went extinct as recently as 4000 years ago, the gourds faced the same fate—until humans began to domesticate the plants, allowing for the rise of pumpkins. But had it not been for the dispersal of the seeds via mammoth crap, the gourd might not have survived long enough to arrive at our dinner tables.

So as you dig into your pumpkin pie this year, be sure to think of the heaping piles of dung that made the delicious treat possible.

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