Most people think that everyday foods are totally okay, and the ones that are truly harmful either look dangerous or have some special smell. And while this is partially true, some of the ordinary, simple foods we eat all the time also have a potential to kill a person. Think a cup of milk won’t do you any harm? But what happens if you drink two or three of them? And what about the seemingly harmless and absolutely delicious cinnamon? Here are a few foods that you need to be careful with.
It’s the problem with most stone fruits – you should never ever eat their stones, even if you’re just curious. Cherries (along with apricots, plums and peaches), contain cyanide. A considerable amount of it is hidden in the cherry pit. But it’s okay if you swallow a whole cherry pit, the poison won’t get into your body. But if you swallow a broken bitter-tasting cherry pit, then you’re in trouble. So how much is too much? Research shows that one cherry pit is enough to kill a 150-pound man. For hydrogen cyanide to become lethal you need to consume approximately 0.1 grams of the toxin. One cherry contains 0.17 grams of hydrogen cyanide, so you can do the math. One or two freshly crushed cherry pits can easily kill a person!
We all know that drinking spoiled products is a no-no and can cause health problems. Yet research shows that milk can be harmful even before it reaches the disgusting stage when it starts turning into lumps. Some companies add melamine to milk to pass inspection. And that ingredient is really poisonous. Milk combined with eggs can also be a killer combination due to salmonella. The Schwan Company had to call off a whole line of ice cream because of a salmonella outbreak. Those guys were thorough, but what about other companies? Unpasteurized milk most people use at homes (to make ice cream and what not) can also contain various pathogens. Drinking milk is really not safe at all!
Have you ever heard about cinnamon challenge? It’s good if you haven’t because consuming large portions of cinnamon can be quite dangerous. Why? Well, cinnamon is basically the powdered bark of the Cinnamomum tree. It’s hard to spit it out and swallow, and if you happen to inhale some, cinnamon will cause scarring and inflammation in your lungs. Ouch! So if you don’t want to be choking, coughing, gagging, vomiting or even dying because of cinnamon, you should stick to mixing a small amount of it into your coffee and desserts. So, basically, cinnamon is not poisonous, but it is still a threat to your respiratory system.
Let’s talk about castor oil and how many people it can kill with just a few drops. Kidding! It’s not drops, it’s beans that are used to produce castor oil. This is not your regular household oil like olive or coconut oil. Castor beans contain a highly poisonous toxin ricin. One castor bean contains enough toxins to kill over 1,000 people! That is, of course, if they inhale the purified toxin, but eating these beans is also lethal. 10 castor beans are enough to kill a person. Yet, most of the products that use castor oil (lubricants, varnishes, cosmetics, plastics, skincare products, and food flavors) do not contain ricin, so it is usually safe to buy them. Just make sure they were produced with all safety measures.
Peanuts are incredibly tasty, but they are also one of the most common causes of food allergy. According to research, more than 3 million people in the U.S. do not tolerate eating peanuts. And what about the rest of the world? The funny (or not so funny thing, really) is that you can develop an allergy for peanuts at any point in life, even if you don’t have one now. Peanuts are tricky and can cause a mild aggravation or even an anaphylactic shock if you are not careful with them. So if you feel some itching in your mouth after eating a few peanuts, it’s best to visit a specialist just to make sure you are not suddenly allergic.
Cassava, also known as yucca, is surprisingly wide-spread. You might not know that you’ve tried it, but you actually did! It’s used in a great variety of Caribbean dishes as well as South American, African and East Asian cuisines. See, almost everywhere in the world! Cassava is used to make soups, bread, stews and often accompanies meat dishes. Why is it dangerous? If not prepared the right way, it becomes poisonous because of hydrogen cyanide. Yes, the same substance that’s found in almonds. If you consume a large amount of it – you die, it’s that simple. Cassava can be “sweet” and “bitter”. The more poison it contains, the more bitter the taste. If not processed properly, the consumption of cassava can lead to a paralytic disease called kozo. Roots usually become safe during cooking. Yet cassava flour needs to be mixed with water and then spread over a surface. As the paste dries, the poison slowly disappears into the atmosphere.
Well this one is a no brainer, but it is still good to be reminded from time to time why fast food is bad for your body. Everyone knows how bad it is, but they still eat it! One KFC’s famous bowl that consists of gravy, chicken nuggets, mashed potatoes, 3 cheeses and corn, has more sodium than you’ll even need. Packaged cookies are packed with trans-fat and hydrogenated cooking oils. Store-bought cake frosting has the same dangerous ingredients. And if you like eating pancakes made with batter mix from a box, then you’d better stop – it contains powdered trans-fat! Movie popcorn is a big bucket of carbs, MSG, saturated fat, and calories. Sodas contain harmful corn syrup, as well as most ketchups. Packed chips have more MSG than you’ve bargained for, and various salty snacks contain partially hydrogenated oils. Need we say more?
It used to be common knowledge – which berries are safe to eat in the wild, and which are not. Yet in the modern world we often neglect these facts, until we wind ourselves somewhere in the forest wondering if those nice-looking berries are safe to eat. Well, the answer is – no. The leaves and stems of elderberries will really upset your stomach and raw berries themselves are poisonous as well. They contain toxins called glycosides. Once consumed, they turn into cyanide and that’s a very, very poisonous thing. To get rid of those harmful compounds you just need to cook your berries. So wines, jams and other foods made with processed berries are completely safe to eat.
We boil them, mash them, roast them, turn them into various dishes – and sometimes they pay back. It’s hard to believe that potatoes can in any way harm humans, but it’s true. Potatoes contain poisonous compounds called glycoalkaloids. They are usually found in sprouts, stems and leaves, but they can also get into the part of potato we use for eating. These glycoalkaloids are nasty things and can cause general confusion, cramps, headaches, diarrhea, coma and even death. These compounds can also be found in a variety of poisonous plants like deadly nightshade. So you should think twice before you decide to boil some potatoes for dinner!
Have you heard about cyanide? Well, almonds have it! We call almonds nuts, but they are technically seeds, scientists even call them “fruits” because you need to remove the outer layer to get to the inner edible part. Yet the name doesn’t really matter when we come to realize that almonds are actually dangerous. Especially those raw bitter almonds – they contain hydrogen cyanide, an extremely poisonous substance which is not that tasty at all. A handful of raw bitter almonds is enough to kill a grown-up man. Cyanide is nullified by heat treatment, that’s why dry almonds are always better (and safer) for human consumption. In some places it is illegal to sell raw almonds due to the danger they pose, but you can still find then anywhere.