You wouldn’t believe us if we told you, but some of the most common, everyday foods that you bring home from the grocery store pose a dangerous threat to your body and health. It’s important to remember that we live in a world with genetically-modified fruits and veggies, crops that are covered in pesticides, and chemical toxins that preserve our perishables. You can be a conscientious eater by keeping up-to-date on the latest health trends and what we stock in our kitchens. Hidden poisons are not so few and far between anymore, making your favorite foods deadly weapons in disguise if you aren’t a culinary expert. But since we have a hunch that you’re a master chef in disguise, we’re ready to share with you the secret treachery of the most prevalent food villains to watch out for and enjoy safely… at your own risk, of course.
The Cassava Root… Of All Evil
Cassava root needs to be soaked and dried properly, or else it can be a real killer. It contains the poisonous chemical cyanide, and if eaten in too large a quantity, it can cause a crippling and chronic poisoning in the bloodstream. In South American countries this type of poisoning is referred to as Konzo, and it’s a life-threatening condition that the local populations struggle with. Fortunately, in the United States there are strict governmental regulations that enforce key safety measures upon harvesting and dispersing the root to consumers, so it isn’t as much as a threat.
Red Death Chili Pepper
As it turns out, red chili peppers have the ability to kill you. Obviously, eating one or two chilies isn’t going to hurt, but if you ingest them in abundance, then you may have a serious problem on your hands. These red little devils contain a chemical called capsaicin, and it’s typically used as a primary ingredient in both pepper and paint stripper. If you eat enough of this chemical it can corrode your insides, and at the very least, give you some killer heartburn. Watch out for the amount of capsaicin you consume, simply by judging the spiciness of your pepper; if you feel a stinging sensation just by touching the chili’s skin, it’s a pretty potent pepper you’ve got there.
All Hot Dogs Go To Heaven
The rumors are true. Hot dogs really are capable of poisoning your body, and at an alarming rate. It’s more commonly known that the beef and pork fat trimmings in these ballpark sausages can clog your arteries and contribute to heart problems, but there’s new research evidence that proves a positive correlation between hot dogs and colorectal cancer. Like most processed meats, sodium erythorbate and sodium nitrate are heavily relied upon to preserve the freshness of the packaged product, but they’re also the nasty culprits increasing your risk of developing cancer. Surprisingly, other fatty meats like bacon, salami, and ham are considered much safer to consume. If you must indulge in a classic frank, opt for a chicken or turkey substitute instead.
Sports Drinks… Just Don’t Do It
We get it. Sports drinks are delicious. They also motivate you to get out and be active. The problem with the sugary solutions is they contain a toxic chemical called bromine brominated vegetable oil. This is the same chemical that can be found in photography film, gasoline, and fire extinguishers. BVO increases your risk for cancer, contributes to infertility, damages your thyroid, and can induce severe psychiatric or psychological problems. Japan and Europe have outlawed the substance in its entirety, prior to the Coca-Cola and Pepsi decision to remove the chemical from their beverages. Better late never, we guess?
Grow A Beanstalk Instead
Lima beans are one of the world’s favorite legumes. However, it’s important to remember that these beans need to be cooked thoroughly in order to avoid lethal or fatal symptoms that can arise. The plant form manifests a fairly large amount of cyanide in order to protect itself in the wild, and those who harvest for a living spray the plants excessively to ensure their safety and full growth. About 10-15 minutes in boiling hot water will make it alright to eat, but make sure you know the source of your Lima beans. Less-developed countries’ beans contain high cyanide levels due to lack of government restrictions.
Think Before You Kraft Mac & Cheese
Macaroni and cheese is probably the greatest comfort food that can ever warm a person’s heart and soul. Actually, it definitely is. Which is why it’s such a shame that the food dye and other chemical additives in the boxed product can kill you slowly over time. The underlying cause of mac and cheese’s ability to harm to your health lies within the manufacturers’ producing the boxed goodness in their factories. The yellow food dye contains benzidene and other similar carcinogenic chemicals, which have the potential to destroy cell reproduction and the genetic makeup inside of those would-be cells. The good news is that it’s ridiculously easy to create your own version of the beloved brand. Trust us, we’ll get more into that later.
Not-Such Magic Mushrooms After All
Mushrooms are a great way to top off any meal. Although they aren’t great if you don’t know what kind of mushroom species you’re consuming. It’s no secret that mushrooms are used for their hallucinogenic properties, but when the average eater just wants to add some flavor to their meal, then unwanted symptoms are best avoided. The fungi contains high levels of poison and most breeds of the species can’t be consumed at all because of it. It’s best to stick the crowd favorites such as portobello, shiitake and other kinds of the sort. Let’s go with what we know and dodge death at the same time.
You Better Respect Your Elderberry
The toxicity in an elderberry can best be described as risky fruit with tasty temptations. When an elderberry has ripened and been cooked, the toxins are typically wiped clean and you can enjoy the fruit carefree. The kicker is that elderberry leaves produce their own cyanide, and also contain alkaloids harmful to the human body. The highest risk factor when using elderberry leaves is dunking the deliciousness in your tea, because the boiling water may not be enough to kill the poison. It’s important to wash these plants down good and well, then you’ll be preventing any sort of fatality from happening.
An Apple A Day Makes The Doctor Stay
Walt Disney wasn’t making this stuff up. The deadly fruit that almost killed Snow White has a reputation with some credibility to it, but it’s essential to understand that the main culprit scaring you out of your wits is just the seeds. The apple seeds hold cyanogenic glycosides inside of them, and since they’re at the core of the fruit and difficult to reach, they rarely pose too much of a threat. Precautionary measures usually include cutting the stem and the core out of the apple before eating it, that way you’ll be safe instead of sorry.
A Fish Not Meant To Be Out Of Water
Fugu is a Japanese delicacy, a high-class dish of thinly sliced pieces of blowfish. We need to give the Japanese credit and openly admit that yes, they do know their fish, but this one might be crossing the line. The most important, anatomical components of the fish which include the intestines, the liver and the ovaries, contain a lethal poison called tetrodotoxin. It’s estimated to be about 1,200 times deadlier then a single dose of cyanide. Of course, the dish is prepared according to careful safety and hazardous standards, but only by professionals who have undergone an immense amount of training with a high level of expertise. We don’t recommend anyone trying this at home.
An Even Bigger Fish To Fry…
It’s truly a shame that our beloved tuna contains so many dangerous properties inside of it. Eating raw fish is most obviously something that everyone does at their own risk, but still, most people do it at some point. Tuna contains high levels of mercury that can seriously impair coordination and cognition. The fatty acids in tuna also increase even the healthiest person’s rate for a heart attack by 60-70%. There’s been some speculation regarding whether or not this information is propaganda to save the endangered tuna community, but it’s still better to be aware of any mercury you might be eating unknowingly. Don’t you think so?
Don’t Cry Over That Spilled Milk
It’s common knowledge that milk is pasteurized solely for the purpose of exterminating bacteria before consumption. But for some people who choose raw milk over what you normally buy in a carton (yes, some people do drink it raw), there are some serious risk factors that aren’t being considered. Raw milk literally has the potential to kill you, especially if you contract salmonella, listeria, or E. coli. It’s very possible to develop life-threatening infections from these bacteria, but if it’s not death that comes for you there’s also the chance that kidney failure or paralysis will. Stick with the whole milk, kids.
Watch Out For Tapioca, Puddin’
While tapioca may not be the most popular dish served these days, it still has a glorified reputation among some populations. But tapioca that hasn’t been properly prepared or cooked can give an eater cyanide poisoning. The dose is so strong that it not only induces the usual food poisoning symptoms, but there’s high risk of convulsion and falling into a coma. Considering that tapioca isn’t a number one pick nowadays when choosing dessert after dinner, we don’t think too many warning labels need to be printed out.
The World Isn’t Really Your Oyster…
Oysters are usually revered as the type of shellfish that’s beneficial to your health. Not only do they carry Vitamins A and C, along with body minerals such as zinc and iron, but they’re low in cholesterol and high in protein. But in reality, the sea-water dwellers contain a deadly bacteria called vibrio vulnificus, and it can cause some serious health problems. Side effects and symptoms usually present themselves within 16 hours to two days, and can become cause for hospitalization based on an individual’s reaction. The current climate change is what’s most likely causing the bacteria to make a home inside the oysters, which means the problem may just get worse over time.
There Will Be Blood Clams
Blood clams are a Chinese delicacy that should really be avoided at all costs. Aesthetically speaking, they may look like a fun adventure to try, but the health risks associated with them are really scary. The killer clams are harvested deep in the Gulf of Mexico, where they can contract viruses such as Hepatitis A, dysentery, and typhoid. These are viruses you definitely do not want to ingest and develop within your own blood system.
Honey, I Poisoned The Kids!
Botulism spores are the killer ingredient in raw honey. If you keep this special treasure in your kitchen, beware of the consequences that come along with its consumption. Botulism has the capacity to give you severe food poisoning, with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps and a fever. For anyone with a particularly weak immune system, or who is going through life-preserving medical treatments, the spores can be fatal. To be completely honest, eating raw honey isn’t even worth the risk. Stick with pasteurized honey, it’s just as delicious.
You Say Tomato, I Say No Thank You
The tricky thing about tomatoes is that the part of the fruit we mean to consume isn’t poisonous. It’s the leaves, stems and the core of the tomato that need to be watched out for. Because tomatoes are actually native to the deadly nightshade family, they have natural, toxic chemicals similar to cyanide in the aforementioned parts. Just remember to cut out the core when making a salad and you’ll be protected from the toxins that could invade your body.
It’s Time To Think Outside The Pasta Box
Many boxed pasta mixes contain a host of preservatives and one major ingredient that manufacturers depend on to ship their product out in a timely manner. The chemical is called Azodicarbonamide, and it’s illegal in almost every country except for the United States. It’s used to speed the compound in drying pasta but creates a pattern of toxic building blocks in your body the more you eat of it, over an extended period of time. Stick to whole wheat and other pastas that you can be sure are gluten-free. That’s the way to steer clear of the man-made poison.
A Nut You’d Rather Not Crack
Brazil nuts can be dangerous to your health if you eat more than three in a day. That’s right, just three! The suspicious nut has a chemical in it called Selenium, and it can cause an allergic reaction on top of the poisonous properties is composed of. We recommend only having one or two, in case that wasn’t obvious. Plus, there’s plenty of other nut types to choose from… just not the other ones on our list.
We Hate To Spill The Beans, But…
Beans, beans, they’re good for your heart… apparently not. Red kidney beans have toxic component that can only killed by boiling in water for at least 10 minutes. Before you cook your beans, remember that there is a poison inside of those little monsters called phytohaemagglutinin. It may be hard to pronounce, but the effects are lethal if you ingest uncooked beans. The poison attacks the body’s blood cells and as we know, those are pretty essential to human survival.
A Castor Oil Con-Artist
Castor oil has been known to add flavor to a dish and has more recently become a marketing product for beauty benefits. It’s said to contain properties that make your hair shinier, your eyelashes fuller, and it’s even used as a weight supplement. We’re sorry to break it to you, but that just isn’t the case. If the seeds aren’t broken down and prepared properly into its liquid form, then what’s remaining of the seed is a toxin called ricin. It can be quite deathly, and the symptoms come in stages. They begin with standard nausea and diarrhea, but over the course of a few days the body gets dehydrated. Those most at-risk are children who haven’t developed their immune systems entirely.
Dancing With The Green Devil
Absinthe is banned in the United States but not for reasons that would put the green fairy on our list. It’s mostly referenced for it’s ability to make the drinker hallucinate and the 100 Proof label usually stamped on the bottle. It’s the extract of an herb called Artemisia absinthium that gives it poisonous properties. The toxin is infused with the drink but has rarely been a cause of any reported deaths. Absinthe has enough on its resume to let a deadly strain bring it down.
The Worst Thing Since Sliced Bread
Flatbreads and wraps share one thing in common: they’re both produced at accelerated paces, using the ingredient Potassium bromate. It’s a specific type of flour that contains enough toxins to give you gastrointestinal problems, kidney failure and nervous system problems. Manufacturers depend on this ingredient because they can produce more food products at less cost, leading to higher profit. It doesn’t sound like a very good excuse to us, though.
This’ll Get You Cheesed Off
This graphic food description is enough to make anyone pass up the opportunity to try the delicacy, but we’ll give it a shot anyway. Casu marzu cheese is literally called the “the maggot cheese,” and for exactly the reasons you’re thinking of. The cheese is actually crawling with live maggots, and the Italians made it that way on purpose. The maggots can not only be eaten, but they’ll most likely survive s you digest them, making huge problems for your intestinal lining. This cheese should probably stay on the black market where it belongs.
Walking on Uncooked Eggshells
No, we aren’t suggesting that it’s normal to go all Rocky Balboa and swallow raw egg right from the shell. But it is common to cook brioche with egg yolk oozing from the top. And it’s also common to cook soft boiled eggs as opposed to hard boiled ones. Let’s face it, we really only enjoy eating the yolk if it’s adding liquid flavor to our favorite brunch-style meals, but it’s quite poisonous in large quantities. Salmonella bacteria lives in uncooked eggs, so if you have a weak immune system or consume way too many half-cooked omelettes, contracting the illness can become life-threatening without immediate treatment.
Turn Over A New Rhubarb Leaf
Before you think about making that sweet rhubarb pie, we suggest you take a few things into account. Rhubarb leaves contain not one but many toxins, the most potent poison being oxallic acid. It’s corrosive and when mixing it in water or soda, it becomes even more powerful. Be leery of the amount you use and cut off the stalk of the plant before enjoying its tasty flavor. Better to be safe than sorry.
Even in its most fresh, newly-ground form nutmeg is poses a serious threat to your health. The flavorful powder includes a psychoactive substance called myristicin. If you’re sprinkling way too much nutmeg in your food recipes then you’re placing yourself at risk for heart palpitations, convulsions, generalized body pain, and dehydration. Don’t go overboard with the spice and stick to the exact measurements you need.
Planting Another Seed Of Doubt
That giant pit at the center of an apricot is highly lethal. It looks kinda fun to play with and suck the juice off of once you’ve finished the fruit itself, but it’s not worth the toxins you’ll ingest along the way. Cyanide in the kernel is produced by a compound called amygdalin that can induce dizziness, kidney failure, increased blood pressure, coma and possibly death.
Not-So-Sweet Cherry Pie
Just like the center of an apricot, a cherry has its wild side too. It contains a type of cyanide called prussic acid. If you eat only a few of the cherry pits you’ll probably be okay, but they can cause a deadly build-up that will show in the form of food poisoning symptoms. Mainly you need to look out for accidentally swallowing them, because let’s just admit it — no one actually wants to eat them.
The Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree
Ackee was named one of TIME’s most dangerous top 10 foods. It’s the national fruit of Jamaica, and the nation even has a name for the illness it can give you: the Vomiting Sickness. Before ripe, the fruit contains hypoglycin. When eaten, the side effects can include coma and death. If you want to give the national delicacy a try, wait until the pod is completely red, then have someone help you open it up with a knife.
You’d Be Nuts To Eat These
We’re pretty sure the average nut-eater would choose roasted or salted cashews over their raw, natural state, but many people actually eat them raw. If you’ve ever experienced the painful wrath of poison ivy, then you know what the toxin urushiol is capable of. This is the poisonous chemical found in raw cashews before they’ve been steamed, and if ingested it can result in fatality.
Drop It Like A Hot Potato
It’s not a commonly known fact that potatoes themselves are actually toxic. You can tell the level of toxicity plaguing them by judging how green they are on the surface of their skin. The greenish coloring is a result of glycoalkaloid poison, which grows worse over a period of time. There have been documented cases where death has occurred after eating a green potato or a potato’s stems and leaves. Make sure you give the vegetable a good look-over before preparing and cooking it.
In A Nutshell, Don’t Eat This
Almonds contain small doses of cyanide that can induce symptoms of food poisoning over if you’ve eaten more than the recommended serving size. It’s usually better to heat them up first, eliminating any fraction of poison left from when the manufacturers sold it to the public. Many countries have made almond sales illegal, unless they’ve been processed according to government regulations.
Nut Just Dangerous For The Allergic
Besides the allergy epidemic that seems to be a growing problem, there are other issues that come along with eating this old-school snack. The peanut has a dangerous toxin called aflatoxin at its interior, and it’s most potent in raw peanuts. If ingested in large amounts, aflatoxin can cause liver cancer and ultimate failure. The trick is to know where your peanuts are coming from and whether or not you trust the company that’s selling them.
Literally, Dead Meat…
Processed foods contain more than just one chemical or preservative, which is severely damaging to your health. Processed meats are even worse, because they also carry the bacteria that lurked within the loins of our deceased animal friends. Sodium nitrates and MSG are the leading toxins found in the packaged meat section, which are both likely to cause colon cancer and metabolic syndrome. Buying fresh meat from the deli or going organic is probably your best bet.
Mountain Dew isn’t the only offender in harming your body’s physical health. In fact, all citrus-flavored sodas are responsible for behavioral and reproductive problems when consumed regularly. Sodas with lime, lemon, and other flavors in the family contain brominated vegetable oil, which causes a build up of fatty tissues and increases blood pressure. If that wasn’t enough to convince you to stay away from the carbonated beverages, just remember that BVO is used in flame retardants. Don’t put that in your body, please.
Non-organic yogurt is filled with the growth hormones rBGH and rBST, which are given to cows in order to boost their milk production. The catastrophic problem with these hormones is that once a human ingests them, it increases their risk for breast, colon and prostate cancer. If you decide to purchase organic yogurt instead of the fancy brands that use extra corn syrup to make up for lack of flavor, you might be surprised in the health benefits you gain and the risk factors you eliminate.
Cooking Rice? Think Twice
When you cook rice it’s important to make sure the batch is completely finished; there’s a scary bacteria called bacillus cereus that can manifest inside undercooked rice. Bacillus cereus spawns into another toxin, cereulide, and about 24 hours after ingestion it causes vomiting and indigestion. Lectin is also found in undercooked rice. This can give a mighty push to diabetes and celiac disease. The moral of the story here, folks, is that it’s better to let the rice sit for an extra minute instead of taking it off the stove too early.
Fat Free, At A Terrible Cost
No chips are safe, not even the ones that are advertised to be. Fat-free chips are stuffed with a toxic ingredient called olestra, which is supposed to help you stay trim, but it only makes you go to the bathroom more (in the unhealthiest of ways). Research also concludes that olestra only makes you hungrier, and increasing your diet in other areas or just eat more “fat-free” chips, will defeat the initial purpose of stocking your kitchen with them.
Cereal Killer Snack Mixes
Almost all of your favorite trail mixes are chock-full of preservatives that increase your risk of cancer. These specific preservatives are known as BHA and BHT, but you probably won’t find them on the back of your package’s label. Cereal mixes also contain monoglycerides, which is just a fancy name for transfat — which can seriously impair the proper function of your heart. Don’t let those labels fool you.