Surprising but true, many foods that we eat everyday are toxic if stored, prepared or consumed improperly. Below is a list of the 6 most poisonous everyday foods.
Fruit Pits. Fruit seeds or pits, such as apricot kernels, apple seeds, cherry seeds, plums, and peach pits are all toxic. These seeds contain a molecule called cyanogenic glycosides, which has a cyanide compound embedded in it. Usually, the cyanide is not released, so there is no danger. But, if eaten, and the cyanogenic glycoside molecules come in contact with the beta-glucosidase enzyme found in the small intestine, cyanide is released and becomes dangerous. In very small amounts, such as what would be ingested in normal eating, you don’t have to worry about it. But don’t let anyone talk you into eating a pile of peach pits.
Brazil Nuts. I know what you’re thinking… nuts are good for me! But, a raw unshelled brazil nut has about 100mcg of selenium. Selenium is a chemical element (atom) which the human body needs to survive, and some scientists believe that insufficient selenium may leave the body prone to cancer. However, Selenium is considered a trace element and the body’s tolerable upper intake level is only about 400mcg. That’s equal to roughly 4 raw brazil nuts. Anything more can give you selenium poisoning. The symptoms of mild selenium poisoning are hair loss, fatigue, neurological damage, gastrointestinal disorders, and garlic breath. Higher levels of selenium poisoning can result in liver cirrhosis, pulmonary edema and even death. So don’t ever binge on brazil nuts.
Tapioca. I’m not a fan of tapioca to begin with, but when I found out it can be dangerous, well, let’s just say that’s a good enough reason to skip bubble tea altogether. Tapioca is made from Cassava, a popular root used in a number of cooked foods the world over. The raw leaves of Cassava have cyanogenic glucosides and are poisonous. And the roots can also have high levels of cyanogenic glucosides, and they must be processed correctly to reduce the levels of these cyanogenic glucosides to safe levels. This usually involves soaking the root for some time, then cooking it thoroughly. Don’t prepare cassava root at home unless you have professional advice.
Rhubarb Leaves. Rhubarb stalks are perfectly safe for use, but Rhubarb leaves are poisonous. They have oxalic acid and other toxic compounds. Eating even a small amount of leaves could kill you, while smaller quantities can leave you seriously ill.
Kidney Beans. When raw, these beans have a high level of a molecule known as Phytohemagglutinin. As few as 5 raw kidney beans can cause poisoning, the symptoms being nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Boiling the beans at for at least 10 minutes can make the beans safe to eat by reducing the amount of Phytohemagglutinin up to 200-fold. Be sure to soak kidney beans in water and bring them to a rolling boil for at least 10 minutes. Then you can use them in your recipes, or put them into a slow cooker for simmering.
Potatoes. Wild potatoes have toxic chemicals called solanine and chaconine. The highest concentration of this is just under the skin, and their concentration increases as the potato grows older or has more exposure to light. Commercial potatoes are potato varieties which have been bred to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals in them. The safest thing to do is to avoid wild potatoes, and don’t eat any potatoes that have turned green. Also avoid potatoes that have begun to sprout. Fresh store bought potatoes are generally safe after being cooked, though in theory, you could get solanine poisoning if you ate several kilograms of potatoes in one day. Note that potato leaves have very high levels of solanine and are toxic. The symptoms of solanine and chaconine poisoning are headaches, diarrhea, and cramps.
While it is generally safe to eat the above foods if prepared correctly, it’s always a good idea to know what you’re eating — and how to protect yourself from any lurking food dangers.