What kind of vegetable or fruit describes this NZ Herald article?

By Grant Jacobs 17/09/2012

(Occasionally I just have to point out silly nonsense…)

Being such a short piece, I hope the NZ Herald can forgive my quoting most of the body of Top five: Foods matched to your body in full, which advises that readers should “Match foods to parts of the body for optimum health benefits”, going on to suggest:

1. Healthy Bones: Bony-looking foods such as rhubarb, rich in vitamin K, and celery, rich in silicon, are both good for bones and healthy joints.

2. Heart to Heart: Tomatoes have four chambers and are red, just like the heart and they are proven to reduce the risks of heart disease. Unlike many other fruits and vegetables, they are even better for you when cooked.

3. Sight for Sore Eyes: Slice a carrot and the round circle will show a likeness to an eye, complete with pupil and iris. They contain beta-carotene and antioxidants, both helpful for eyesight issues.

4. Brainy Food: Walnuts resemble tiny brains, with left and right hemispheres. It’s no surprise then that they’re good for brain function and contain serotonin, believed to increase a feeling of wellbeing.

5. Round Fruit: Lemons and grapefruit with limonoids and vitamin C are believed to be helpful in preventing breast cancer.

I think we can all see the problem here, right? The idea that similarity of the shape of a food relates to what it might do for a person… is daft.

Rather than address these myself, I’ll give a shout-out to Auckland University Professor of Biostatistics, Thomas Lumley, who has already done the honours.[1] Do read it.


To be fair, while the similarity link to function notion the NZ Herald piece is resting on is clearly daft, it’s also a bit obvious.

1. Great to see another senior scientist blogging, hence the shout-out.

Other articles on Code for life:

Carrots for my neighbour 

GMOs and the plants we eat: neither are “natural”

Sales-fest or science? 

Message to Otago Daily Times: homeopath is not a sound career option*

A course for all degrees: PHIL 105, Critical Thinking 

0 Responses to “What kind of vegetable or fruit describes this NZ Herald article?”

  • Dear Aunt Abby, I read recently that vegetables can contribute to health and well being purely from their shape. Should I dig out the biggest carrot I can find to help my John Thomas? I’ve tried all those other suck it and see thingys and they don’t work.

    • I originally had an addition to similar effect, but wasn’t too sure about setting a precedent…! Something like – given the shape and firmness of carrots, perhaps the author would think they are a superior alternative to Viagra? Somehow I don’t think so. But they might make any guys who overdid trying it out have orange pee.

  • This is the same “concept” that Ray Comfort trots out as part of his “proof” of creationism, along with his assertion the banana has obviously been “designed” to fit in the hand and be easily inserted in the mouth.

  • By this logic, maybe if you eat bunches of grapes you’ll get haemorrhoids. I’m not sure what the durian is good for.

  • Grant,
    “To be fair, while the similarity link to function notion the NZ Herald piece is resting on is clearly daft, it’s also a bit obvious.”

    Obvious to you, me and many other sciblogs readers but I suspect there are large numbers of New Zealanders who, dare I say it, eat this type of advice up.

    This is why it is good to see you and Professor Lumley pointing it out.

  • Rob,

    For what little it’s worth, I’ve read somewhere that Comfort has, apparently, taken back his banana claim. Something along the lines of it being a theological example that didn’t come across properly, or something. (Yeah, right.)

    Seriously, though the relationship in he NZ Herald article is of shape of food to part of body arguing that if the shape is the same as that part of the body, it’s good for that part of the body, which is daft. That said, although it’s a different correlation it’s certainly as daft as Comfort’s banana-made-for-man one! In fact, I have a few words on Comfort’s banana made-for-man notion in my post on GMOs (it’s also in the ‘other articles’ section, above).

  • That ‘advice’ relating fruit shape with organ shape lifted from the doctrine of ‘signatures’ – http://www.jcrows.com/signatures.html (that is a seriously strange site!) – which itself is supposed to be ‘evidence’ of G-d’s pharmacy…

    Desk, meet head. “How could the Herald publish that?” is a rhetorical question, since they did, & the fact that they did, well, makes me wonder if the content has gone tabloid along with the format.

  • Alison,

    Straight cut-n-paste!

    Can we say ‘plagiarism’? (Yikes. Not a word to toss about in journalism circles with gay abandon.)