We live in a world where we have more access to information about the food that we are eating than ever before. Sharing information about hidden risks, unknown toxic ingredients, and frightening health risks.
In some cases, we have been able to make necessary changes and adjustments to our diet, improving our overall health and well-being, however, in order for that to work we must be aware of all the risks that are out there.
Unfortunately for us, there are a large number of risks associated with the foods that many of us eat on a daily basis. By lacking the knowledge of these startling facts, we continue to increase or risk of various diseases and ailments, and make ourselves sick, by consuming these items day after day. The frightening reality is that many of these may lead to serious long-term health complications or even death! Concerned about your own diet?
Here are 15 everyday foods that could actually be killing you:
#1 – Tomatoes
You may want to exercise a little more care when you are preparing tomatoes for your next family dinner. While the fruit itself is completely safe for consumption, the leaves and stems are not nearly as healthy. Containing a poison called glycoalkaloid, the leaves can cause severe cramping, stomach aches, and even anxiety.
#2 – Lima Beans
Prior to consuming lima beans, it is important to cook them thoroughly in an uncovered pot of boiling water, then drained and rinsed to ensure that all toxins have been adequately removed. Raw lima beans contain a compound called linamarin which, after being ingested, decomposes into hydrogen cyanide.
#3 – Cashews
The cashews that you purchase in the store have been carefully steamed in order to remove a chemical called urushiol, also found in poison ivy. Ingesting urushiol may prove fatal, especially if you are allergic to poison ivy. Any cashews marketed as ‘raw cashews’ are misleading, that’s not actually what you’re getting. If you see raw cashews on your travels, leave them be. It’s much safer to go pick them up at your local grocery store.
#4 – Sugar
A regular fixture in the average American diet, we all seem to recognize that sugar is unhealthy but due to its addictive nature we can’t seem to let it go. Excessive consumption of sugar can lead to increased triglyceride levels, heart disease, insulin sensitivity, premature aging and weight gain among other risks. While it will involve going against the grain, one of the best diet changes you can make is to cut out the sugar.
#5 – Rhubarb Leaves
Many of us grew up with fond summer memories of picking fresh rhubarb, a delicacy on its own and also highly popular baked into pies and other desserts. What we didn’t realize is that we were taking a huge risk when we would take a bite of that sour treat. Ingesting rhubarb leaves can lead to seizures, kidney failure, difficulty breathing and, in extreme cases, even death.
#6 – Vegetable Oil
Despite the fact that the term ‘vegetable oil’ includes the word ‘vegetable,’ it’s not as healthy as you may assume. Incredibly high in trans-fats, these unhealthy oils will cause significant damage to your body right down to the cellular level. Associated with an increased risk of heart disease, Alzheimer’s, high blood pressure, cancer, obesity and high cholesterol, these oils are far from the healthy alternative that you were likely looking for. Switching to natural oils including coconut, olive, and avocado can help you to avoid the long list of health concerns.
#7 – Unpasteurized Honey
With the trend in society to seek the most natural, untouched version of many of our favorite foods, it is no wonder that there are many interested in obtaining unpasteurized honey or farming their own at home. Experts warn, however, that there is a poisonous toxin called pyrrolizidine alkaloids that are only removed through the pasteurization process. The toxin can lead to headaches, dizziness, weakness, and vomiting that can last up to 24 hours, and as little as one teaspoon of unpasteurized honey can kill you. While there are many great natural product options, honey is not one to cut corners on!
#8 – Red Kidney Beans
Another food item that should be reconsidered by those who follow the ‘raw food’ diet, red kidney beans contain toxins called lectins. When you ingest lectins they actually work to kill the cells in your stomach. In fact, only half a cup of raw red kidney beans is enough to make a person seriously ill. There is good news if you are a fan of red kidney beans – Soaking the beans in water for a minimum of 5 hours prior to consumption will remove the toxin.
#9 – Cherry Pits
While the fruit itself is completely healthy and honestly delicious, however, the risk lies in the pits. Deep within the center of the cherry pit are compounds that, when ingested, are converted into cyanide. Cherries aren’t the only offender – the pits of plums, peaches, and apricots should also be avoided. In order to ingest the dangerous compounds, you would have to actually break the pit open when eating it, which is good news for all of us who have swallowed cherry pits at one point or another as it would only take 1 or 2 crushed cherry pits to kill a person.
#10 – Nutmeg
Safe to be added to your food in small doses, as a simple little sprinkle of seasoning, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the use of nutmeg. The big debate surrounding the use of nutmeg can be traced back to the cases of nutmeg poisoning that has been reported. When an individual consumes a large amount of nutmeg the poisoning is caused by myristicin, which can cause nausea, headaches and even hallucinations.
#11 – Cassava/Tapioca
If you are a fan of bubble tea, you may want to read this one closely! Cassava, sometimes called tapioca, is a vegetable that contains hydrogen cyanide. When it is properly prepared and cooked the toxins are removed, however eating it raw could have deadly consequences. There are two different kinds of cassava – sweet and bitter. The sweet kind, which we most regularly enjoy, is less lethal than the bitter version, however, experts warn that even the sweet version has enough cyanide to kill an adult if prepared and consumed incorrectly.
#12 – Older Potatoes
While potatoes are included in many diet plans and well-balanced meals, they can pose a significant risk to your health. Potatoes properly stored and consumed soon after purchase aren’t concerning, however, if you store your potatoes for too long they may actually cause significant harm. Over time potatoes will begin to grow leaves, stems, and sprouts. The potato is part of the ‘nightshade’ family of plants, which contain a poison called glycoalkaloids. Even if you take the time to cut off all the shoots, the poison may have worked its way into the potato itself. It is recommended you throw away all old potatoes, as scientists state that 16 ounces of a sprouted potato may be enough to make a 100-pound person seriously ill – the equivalent to one baked potato.
#13 – Raw Almonds
The almonds that you purchase at your local health food or grocery store have undergone a specialized heat treatment which is far more extensive than just the process of roasting them at home in your own oven, and it is for good reason. Bitter almonds, in their raw form, are actually full of cyanide. The treatment process removes the toxins, making them safe for you to consume.
#14 – Microwave Popcorn
To begin with, that handy bag that allows you to make your popcorn conveniently in your microwave is lined with a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, or PFOA. When this chemical is heated it has been associated with an increased risk of cancer and infertility – which is concerning considering the fact the whole point of microwave popcorn bags is to heat them to cook. Furthermore, if you are making a ‘butter flavor’ popcorn, this flavoring is created from a chemical called diacetyl. This known carcinogen is so toxic that one brand, ACT, has actually removed it entirely.
#15 – Elderberries
Often used in wines, teas and jams – if elderberries are incorrectly prepared they can be incredibly dangerous. The seeds and leaves of the berry contain potentially fatal levels of the cyanide-producing chemical glycoside. When preparing the berries are strained, removing the toxic parts, however, if they are not strained correctly then your favorite jam or wine might be making you sick. It would only take a cup of poorly strained elderberry juice to make you sick, however, continued exposure may lead to a coma or even death.
Featured image via Feed My Brain