Sauerkraut, kimchi, beetroot and oysters might not be to your good food tastes, but force yourself to eat these ‘disgusting’ foods and you’ll discover great health benefits.
When you were a kid, your parents demanded you eat your veggies because they’re good for you.
As an adult, there are plenty of foods that might initially turn your stomach — but you should try them anyway for their nutrition benefits. You might even end up loving them.
Sauerkraut and kimchi
Why they’re gross: For starters, it’s important to emphasise that there’s no objective decree on what’s gross and what isn’t — you might adore many of the “gross” foods listed here. But there’s no denying that, for some, the sourness of sauerkraut and kimchi are decidedly acquired tastes.
Why you should eat them anyway: They’re certainly tastes worth acquiring. For starters, both are commonly made from cabbage (and/or radishes, in kimchi’s case) — a source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Both are also fermented foods, which are excellent for digestive health and your gut microbiome.
Why it’s gross: The scientific name of the plant beetroot comes from is Beta vulgaris, which sounds about right. There’s a pretty compelling theory that this putrid vegetable’s popularity with Australians only started as a prank on visiting Americans, not because we actually liked it.
Why you should eat it anyway: Disgusting as it is, beetroot is a justifiable superfood because it is high concentration of dietary nitrate, which your body converts into compounds that increase blood flow around the body. That has flow-on benefits for athletic performance and for protective your brain from degenerative disease.
Why it’s gross: There’s a weird reason some people hate broccoli so much: they have taste receptors that make them particularly sensitive to bitter compounds in broccoli (among other foods).
Why you should eat it anyway: Even if you have that receptor, it’s worth forcing broccoli down for its many benefits (high in fibre, loaded with vitamins and minerals, good for digestive health).
The good news is that you can disguise broccoli’s taste in many kinds of recipes, or drown it out with tomato (which actually makes it healthier).
Why it’s gross: Imagine a tub of natural yoghurt. Now imagine a tub of yoghurt left in the sun for a week. Now imagine eating a tub of yoghurt left in the sun for a week — that’s what kefir is like. Blech.
Why you should eat it anyway: Kefir has been described as “yoghurt on steroids” because it’s a powerful probiotic, meaning it feeds the good microbes in your gut that contribute to your overall good health.
Why it’s gross: Admitting it is an un-Australian as it gets, but the salty tang of Vegemite is just too much for some — particularly if you screw up the delicate Vegemite to butter to bread ratio.
Why you should eat it anyway: Though there’s nothing pleasant about the phrase “concentrated yeast extract”, this Aussie icon is a rich source of essential B vitamins such as vitamin B1, B2, and B3 (aka thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin).
Why it’s gross: Ever had a co-worker who popped open a can of tuna to eat at the desk next to yours? The stuff reeks.
Why you should eat it anyway: Tuna is beloved (or at least tolerated) by gym junkies for its high protein and low saturated fat profile, as well as its abundance of minerals. It’s also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are sorely lacking in most Western diets.
Why they’re gross: Like a can of tuna, a can of sardines is not something you should open in polite company — and you’ll need to keep a breath mint or two on hand for after you eat them.
Why you should eat them anyway: In addition to being a source of minerals and vitamins (including calcium and vitamin D), sardines are also a rich source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are sorely lacking in most Western diets.
Why it’s gross: It’s a big hunk of offal. Offal sounds like “awful”. Enough said.
Why you should eat it anyway: Firstly, the ugly ol’ liver is one of the most important and underrated organs in your body — so even if you don’t want to eat liver, you should learn to love yours. Secondly, liver is one of the richest sources of vitamin A, which is vital for many body functions including eyesight.
Why it’s gross: Remember that Clag glue you used back in school (and which your kids might still use today)? Cottage cheese is Clag, in food form.
Why you should eat it anyway: Cottage cheese is a source of protein and low in fat, even if you don’t choose the reduced-fat variety. The good news is that you don’t have to eat it straight from the tub: pair it on grainy toast with salmon, add it to a smoothie, or mix it with cereal and fruit.
Why they’re gross: Beans, beans, they’re good for the heart, the more you eat, the more you… well, you know the rest.
Why you should eat them anyway: Putting aside the old rhyme about beans, they have a ton of benefits: they’re high in protein, fibre and other micronutrients, and they’re incredibly cheap given how nutritious they are.
Why it’s gross: Who was the first person to eat an oyster, and why did they think it was a good idea to taste something that looks like a hunk of snot wiped off inside a shell?
Why you should eat them anyway: Oysters are pretty much high in everything good (protein; minerals including zinc and selenium; and vitamins) and low in things that can contribute to poor health (saturated fat, excess calories).
Why they’re gross: Their shrivelled appearance would be gross even if their juice wasn’t irrevocably associated with constipated old people.
Why you should eat them anyway: Yes, dried plums are a great natural laxative owing to their high fibre content, as well as a type of sugar called sorbitol. But they’re also high in vitamins and antioxidants.