As humans, we tend to enjoy consuming food that tastes good. However, it may often surprise us that many of the fruits and vegetables we love contain small amounts of poisonous substances. Overindulging in these foods can have severe consequences on our bodies, potentially resulting in death. Here are top 10 toxic foods that we like to eat.
Pufferfish is the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world. It contains highly poisonous tetrodotoxin in its internal organs and skin. However, pufferfish is still popular in China, Japan, and Korea. But only specially trained chefs can cook and serve the Japanese dish ‘fugu’ made from pufferfish. Qualifying for the cooking test dealing with pufferfish is difficult, so more than 70% of trainees fail and die.
Pufferfish contains toxic elements that are 100 times more potent than cyanide, and just one pufferfish can be fatal for up to 30 people. If consumed without taking precautions, pufferfish can result in decreased blood pressure, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and even death. Sometimes, the pufferfish toxin can cause paralysis or induce a coma.
The Elderberry, also known as Sambucus, is a flowering plant that grows worldwide, particularly in subtropical regions of Europe. The berries usually occur in small, black, or blue-black bunches and have a tart flavor that requires cooking before consumption. Historically, it was a medicinal supplement to treat cold and flu symptoms.
However, it is essential to note that all parts of the Elderberry, except for the flowers and berries, are highly poisonous and can cause severe health problems. The seeds contain small amounts of lectins, which can cause stomach problems if consumed excessively. Moreover, the Elderberry plant contains cyanogenic glycosides, which can release cyanide in certain circumstances. Therefore, cooking the berries to remove the toxic substances is imperative.
Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable with tart-flavored ruby or green stems used in culinary creations like crumbles, pies, jams, and sauces. Additionally, Rhubarb is also utilized as a dye and for medicinal purposes. The vegetable’s large dark green leaves resemble spinach, but many people hesitate to eat them due to concerns about their potential toxicity.
While instances of poisoning from consuming rhubarb leaves are rare, consuming significant amounts can lead to symptoms of kidney problems caused by oxalates. These symptoms include bloody urine, vomiting, tremors, and diarrhea. However, the stems of the rhubarb plant are free from these toxic elements, making them an excellent ingredient for various dishes.
Potatoes are a popular vegetable used in many dishes, but not all types of potatoes are good for your health. Greening in potatoes is a natural occurrence whenever exposed to light, which causes them to produce chlorophyll and turn green. The green pigment contains toxic elements called solanine, which can be harmful even in small amounts.
Light-skinned potatoes change color quickly, but you can only spot greening in darker-skinned potatoes by scratching off the skin and checking for green patches underneath. If a potato has sprouted or turned green, do not consume it, as it can lead to potato plant poisoning. It is best only to eat potatoes that are not green and have no sprouts on the skin.
Tomatoes are a widely used fruit to add flavor to many dishes. As part of the nightshade family, they contain toxic elements, including alkaloids. The stems and leaves of tomatoes contain solanine, a glycoalkaloid that can cause severe gastrointestinal distress, lethargy, weakness, and confusion.
Even unripe tomatoes contain a poisonous substance called tomatine and large amounts of solanine, which can cause unpleasant symptoms such as fever, diarrhea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and drowsiness. Due to its high lead content, the tomatoes once had the nickname “poison apple, which has caused many deaths from lead poisoning. As a result, tomato leaves are unavailable for sale in commercial markets.
Castor oil is a versatile ingredient commonly found in food and medicine. It is a natural remedy for wrinkles, hair loss, and skin problems and is even suitable as a lubricant and laxative. It also pairs well with candies and chocolates, making it a popular choice for children’s treats.
However, it’s important to note that the castor oil plant contains a dangerous toxin called ricin. It’s best to avoid consuming the beans or seeds together with their hard outer shell to prevent ricin exposure. Pure ricin derived from the castor bean is highly toxic and can be lethal in small doses. Therefore, while handling castor beans, take proper precautions to avoid poisoning. Moreover, if you suspect you’ve overdosed on castor oil, seek medical help immediately.
Mushroom dishes are popular and tasty, but caution is always essential. Not all mushrooms are safe to eat, as some can be poisonous and referred to as toadstools. Ingesting a death cap mushroom can be fatal, with an average of one person dying yearly in the United States. Symptoms typically appear 6 to 12 hours after ingestion and can affect multiple organs, including the liver and kidneys.
Worldwide, there are approximately 100 poisonous mushrooms and 12 deadly species. Poisonous mushrooms often have distinguishing features like white gills, small size, brown color, umbrella-shaped cap, and round base. These toxins in mushrooms are an adaptation to protect the fungi from being eaten. However, some mushrooms rely on animals to consume them to spread their spores through feces.
Many people enjoy cherries in drinks and ice creams, but it’s essential to be aware of the potential danger associated with their pits. Accidental swallowing of pits can be harmful due to the toxic chemical amygdalin they contain, which gets converted to hydrogen cyanide in the body. This compound can damage vital organs like the heart, brain, and lungs by interfering with oxygen transport.
It’s noteworthy that cherry pits, like apple seeds, also contain cyanide compounds. However, because cherries taste so good, people may consume more seed pits than apple seeds. Crushing cherry seeds causes the release of poison, which restricts the blood’s ability to transport oxygen and can lead to headaches, anxiety, and high blood pressure.
Almonds are one of the world’s highly nutritious and widely used nuts. Adding almonds to your daily diet will increase your energy and immunity. But consider choosing the right almond type to make it a perfectly balanced food. There are two types of almonds. One type is bitter, while the other is sweeter and better for your health.
However, it’s important to note that raw, bitter almonds are actually poisonous due to the glycoside amygdalin they contain. It gets converted into hydrogen cyanide when consumed. One bitter almond can contain up to 6mg of hydrogen cyanide, which is sometimes fatal. To make raw almonds safe for consumption, you can use a heating process to remove toxic components.
Apples are a well-liked and nutritious fruit that boasts antioxidant properties, which help prevent oxidative damage that can lead to various health issues. However, it’s important to note that apple seeds can be poisonous as they contain a small amount of cyanide, causing harmful effects if consumed in high quantities.
In addition, apple seeds contain a plant compound called amygdalin, which can also be toxic. While this compound serves as a natural defense mechanism for the plant, if the seeds are accidentally damaged or chewed, the amygdalin can break down into hydrogen cyanide, which is highly poisonous and potentially lethal in large doses. Removing the seeds and any surrounding parts while enjoying your apple is best to avoid these health risks.