Stay away from excessive alcohol, cyanide, and smoking will keep you safe from poison, right? Think again. These everyday foods are much more dangerous than an upset stomach when not cooked right.
Rhubarb- Sure, your Aunt Sally cooks them in her famous pies and they deliver a tangy taste to your palate, but she knows best. The stalks of the rhubarb plant are safe for your eating pleasure, but the leaves contain high levels of oxalate. What’s that, you may ask? It’s the stuff that restricts respiration, kills your cardiovascular system (and by default, you), and is used in stain removers. You’d need around eleven pounds of the leaves to kill yourself, if you were wondering, but any amount of it could cause illness.
Rhubarb leaves were used in WWI to counter the vegetable shortage. Needless to say, bad things happened. Besides human poisonings and deaths, livestock suffered as well.
Tapioca- You know, that heavenly pudding that contains the transparent balls of chewy fun? Those chewy balls, made from tapioca, could be dangerous if not properly processed. How dangerous? The cassava plant it is made from contains cyanide. Although not enough to kill, the dosage could cause partial paralysis or goiters. Don’t worry, though; precautions including drying, baking, and washing the plant has rendered your dessert still safely digestible.
Almonds- Those tricky nuts. Actually, they’re not even nuts. They’re seeds in disguise. Either way, they are quite deadly raw. Almonds in the raw contain high levels of prussic acid (aka hydrogen cyanide) when crushed. Wild almonds are so dangerous raw, in fact, that they have been outlawed in the United States. The ones you purchase at stores? Processed.
As some of you mystery novel fans know, cyanide smells like almonds. Not so random now, huh?
Cherries- This is following the same route of the almonds. The fleshy, tart flesh of the beloved cherries are harmless. However, the pits contain, you guessed it, prussic acid when crushed or chewed or just excessively bothered. Not many have died from the fruit due to poisoning, but it’s better to be safe than sorry! Next time you have an inexplicable urge to chomp down on the pit, just remember the messed up respiratory system you may gain.
Nutmeg- Although not so much a food as a spice, nutmeg is dangerous and interesting enough to make it onto the list. In plant form, nutmeg kills in an interesting way. It provides the consumer with vivid hallucinations similar to amphetamine-induced ones, nausea, and fever. Nutmeg has a history of being an experimental drug for the wild (and stupid). Apparently, the results were not desirable. Seven deaths were recorded between 1996 and 1998. One child died after eating only two nutmeg cores. For more info on nutmeg poison, visit Nutmeg High.
Potatoes- Huh? Of all the food out there, why not include the pufferfish or the jellyfish instead of the potato? Most of us don’t think about poisoning when we look at potatoes, and with good reason. Regular potatoes are safe for human consumption. The green potatoes and potato leaves, though, are a different story. The glycoalkaloid poison in the plant causes weakness and eventually poisoning if not eaten with precaution.