Keep an Eye Out!
In this day and age, it has been made pretty clear that too much of anything can be harmful. But did you know that foods we eat everyday have the potential to kill us. Well, please continue reading this entry.
Potatoes seem like one of the most harmless things on the planet. I mean, there's a children's toy modeled after them. But it turns out that the leaves, stems and sprouts of potatoes contain substances called glycoalkaloids, which can cause cramping, diarrhea, headaches, coma or death when consumed by humans. Potatoes that have been left on the vine for too long are subject to absorb some of these substances, of which only 3 to 6 mg per kg of body weight could be deadly. Affected potatoes typically have a green tinge, so avoid them (and something called potato leaf tea) like the plague!
This little spice can make your day a little sweeter. Or it could make it a lot trippier. Nutmeg is a hallucinogen (it can cause you to see things that are not there), and eating an entire one whole can send you into a psychotic trip, like LSD. But don't go gnawing on the stuff for a high, as little as 0.2 ounces of nutmeg could lead to convulsions, and 0.3 oz could cause seizures.
Cherry seeds are not only annoying to eat around, but they could also be fatal. The pits/seeds of cherries, plums, apricots, apples and peaches all contain prussic acid, a form of cyanide; and if they are crushed or bitten into, they can release this toxin. It is rare to die from chewing a cherry seed, but I would avoid them nonetheless.
While almonds are often touted for their healthy nature, they can also kill you. Almonds naturally contain cyanide, a well-known deadly poison; and eating a handful or two of untreated almonds could be very dangerous. In the United States, almonds must be cleared of all toxins to be sold; but be careful of the nuts when traveling.
Ackee is a fruit found in Jamaica and is common in native dishes. If ackee is picked before it is totally ripe, it can be poisonous, due to a chemical that messes with the body's glucose levels. Death has occurred, and it is illegal to bring the fruit into the United States. If you're planning a trip to Jamaica anytime soon, avoid dishes that contain this fruit, like traditional ackee and saltfish.
Tuna, like other types of fish, often contains moderate to high levels of mercury. Mercury could potentially cause brain damage if consumed in large quantities. While the FDA doesn't recommend consumption of tuna for children or pregnant women, the rest of us just need to watch our weekly intake. The FDA suggests limiting tuna, and all fish, intake to 12 ounces a week; but the amount that can be toxic varies by gender and weight. Use the tuna calculator to find out your limit.
There's nothing I like more than a warm slice of rhubarb pie, but I wouldn't touch the leaves of this root veggie. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which causes illness and can lead to kidney stones. It would take a large serving of leaves (about 11 pounds) to kill you, but eating any amount has the potential to make you sick.
Fugu, also called puffer fish, is a Japanese delicacy. Fugu is poisonous, however; and a chef must be specially trained and licensed to prepare the fish (the test to pass is eating a piece of the fish they cooked!). The tiniest bite of this fish can cause paralysis and death by asphyxiation from the tetrodoxin held in its organs and skin.
Raw cashews contain urushiol, a chemical found in poison ivy. While cashews sold in stores have actually been steamed to remove this toxin (even if they say they are "raw"), consuming a large amount of the moon-shaped nuts if they have not been sterilized could be dangerous. If you are allergic to poison ivy, a much smaller amount could cause a serious reaction, potentially fatal.
Cassava, also called yuca or manioc, is a tuber root vegetable used frequently in African and South American dishes. If the cassava is not cooked thoroughly or is eaten raw, it will become hydrogen cyanide in the body and could lead to death. About 40 mg of cyanide, found in 2 kg of fresh cassava root, could kill a cow.