Posted : March 2010
Author : The admin
Everyday we chow down on food produced from plants that carry deadly poisons. Most of the time we don’t need to be concerned with this as the mass production of fruit and vegetables ensures that we are usually safe, but from time to time people accidentally kill themselves by unwittingly eating the wrong part of a plant. In order to ensure that this never happens to you, I have put together a list of the most commonly seen poisons that we come in to contact with in our kitchens.
Interesting fact: Cassava roots are ground into a flour-like substance which is then used to make tapioca. Cassava leaves contain cyanide but if pounded into a paste with flour and left in the shade for 5 hours, the cyanide is broken down.
Pufferfish stand to be the second most poisonous vertebrate in the world. Though you won’t find pufferfish in the U.S., many in Korea as well as Japan find some parts of the fish to be delicacies. However, certain organs of the fish, such as the liver, as extremely toxic, and can be deadly. The poison in the fish, known as tetrodotoxin, can cause numbness, high blood pressure, and muscle paralysis, which is what leads to death as the diaphragm muscles become paralyzed, disabling breathing. Known as fugu when eaten as a meal, many in Asian countries refuse to not eat the fish.
Interesting fact: Pufferfish has been made illegal to be eaten by the Emperor of Japan.
Interesting fact: There are 38,000 known kinds of mushrooms; about 5% of these are toxic.
Though really seeds and not nuts, cashews grow inside of a shell-like structure that grows on a fruit. When buying “raw cashews” in the store, take note that these nuts have actually been steamed and are not entirely raw. This is because raw cashews contain urushiol, which is the same chemical that you’d find in poison ivy. It can cause the body to have a very similar reaction to one experienced from poison oak or ivy. If a high level of urushiol is ingested, it can be deadly. Cashew poisoning is rare, but those who handle them in order to manufacture them to get the shell off sometimes experience the side-effects.
Interesting fact: Cashews come from a fruit, which in South American countries, is eaten, and the seeds (cashews) are then thrown away.
Interesting fact: Chilies are extremely high in Vitamin C. One green chili pod is said to contain about 6 times as much Vitamin C.
Interesting fact: Potatoes make great food for astronaut! In fact in 1995 potato plants were taken into orbit on the Columbia and actually grown.
Almonds, most always said to be nuts, are actually seeds and are extremely popular in kitchens around the world. Much like cashews, almonds are extremely poisonous if not introduced to some sort of heat source. It is generally the bitter almonds that need to be treated to get rid of the poison. The seeds are full of cyanide, and in many countries are illegal to sell without having been processed in order to get rid of the poison within the seed.
Interesting fact: Almonds are said to be one of the earliest cultivated foods, being mentioned in the Bible’s Old Testament.
Cherries are definitely one of the most versatile fruits. You can eat them raw, cook them, bake them, and get them tart or sweet. Cherries can even be used in certain types of liquor. Despite their overall red goodness, cherries are toxic. If you’ve ever eaten a cherry and without thought chewed on the pip or left it in your mouth, you more than likely introduced hydrogen cyanide into your body. If a cherry pip is chewed, crushed, or somehow damaged, it automatically produces hydrogen cyanide. Symptoms of mild poisoning include headache, dizziness, confusion, anxiety, and vomiting. Larger doses can lead to difficulty breathing, increased blood pressure and heart rate, and kidney failure. Reactions can include coma, convulsions, and death from respiratory arrest.
Interesting fact: Cherries contain extremely high amounts of Melatonin which is good for helping and keeping the body regulated.
Interesting fact: Apples float because at least 25% of their mass is nothing but air.
Despite the extreme popularity of tomatoes and many countries, it is true that they are poisonous. Though the fruit itself doesn’t contain poison, the stem as well as the leaves contain a chemical known as glycoalkaloid. Higher levels are said to be found in wild tomatoes, but those grown domestically still contain glycoalkaloid. This chemical is known to cause upset stomachs and nervousness. The leaves and stem can be used in cooking for flavor, but must be removed before eating. This chemical is so powerful that it is actually used as a way to control pests.
Interesting fact: In 1893, in the U.S. Supreme Court case Nix v. Hedden, it was argued whether or not a tomato was a vegetable or a fruit, which dealt with taxes being paid on vegetbles and not fruits. In the end, the court ruled that a tomato is a vegetable when referring to the Tariff Act, but is botanically a fruit.