Aaarggh! Watch out! These deadly foods are in your kitchen cupboard right now and are out to get you! Luckily, we know lots about them and all can easily be made safe.
Like the seeds of apricot, peach, and plums, apple seeds contain amygdalin. This compound releases cyanide into the blood stream when chewed and digested. You’d have to eat about 200 apple seeds for a lethal dose though, which is about 20 apples cores.
The leaves of Britain’s favourite humble crumble plant rhubarb, contain oxalic acid. The acid can cause kidney stones. It would take nearly 5 kilos of leaves to be fatal though, less to make you seriously ill.
Banned in Saudi Arabia, nutmeg can cause hallucinations and sometimes death in large doses. Eating large amounts of nutmeg can lead to a ‘nutmeg psychosis’, with the eater feeling a huge sense of hopelessness and impending doom. Convulsions, seizures, palpitations, nausea, dehydration, anxiety, fear and general pain throughout the body soon follow. Eggnog never looked so dangerous! It’s also fatal to dogs, even in small doses.
Spuds come from the same family as deadly nightshade and produce glycoalkaloids, which will lead to cramping, diarrhoea, confused headaches, coma and sometimes death. The leaves, stems and shoots of the plant are naturally high in glycoalkaloids, and if your tatties have been exposed to light and turned green they’re sure to have high amounts of the poison in too. Just one green baked potato would be enough to make you feel unwell, and a dose of 3-6 mg per kg of your body weight can be fatal – although you’d know it was dangerous as it would taste bitter.
Like apples seeds, almonds contain amygdalin, which becomes deadly hydrogen cyanide after crushing, or chewing. Fortunately, sweet almonds from your supermarket don’t have enough of it to cause any poisoning, and an averaged sized person would need to eat 1,150 kernels in one day to get the amount of cyanide necessary to be poisoned. However, bitter almonds have 50 times more cyanide per kilogram than sweet almonds, meaning eating 50 bitter almonds can be fatal.
6. Raw Honey
Unpasteurized honey made by bees who get their nectar from rhododendrons often contains grayanotoxin, which can lead to something called ‘honey intoxication’. Symptoms include dizziness, weakness, excessive sweating, nausea and vomiting, and can last for 24 hours.
Just like your spuds, tomatoes come from the same family as deadly nightshade. The leaves, stems and unripe green tomatoes have a high concentration of tomatine and solanine. The effects of poisoning would include vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, drowsiness, confusion, weakness and depression. Don’t worry too much though, as the ripe fruit doesn’t contain enough to make you ill.
Tuna are long-lived and high up the food chain, so environmental mercury builds up in their bodies. It’s been stated albacore (white) tuna contains three times more mercury, on average, than canned light tuna. The mercury in tuna is thought to be of particular concern to pregnant women, nursing mums and young children. It’s a complex issue, as fish has obvious health benefits, but check here for current government guidance. Symptoms of mercury poisoning include vision, hearing and speech impairment, disturbed sensation in fingers and a lack of coordination. Not to be confused with a Friday night out!
It’s not all doom and gloom on the food front. Count yourself lucky you don’t have to prepare the infamous fugu. Its innards are so dangerous, when they’re discarded they have to be kept under lock and key!