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Top 20 Foods That Can Literally Kill You (Part 2)

Everyone’s got their favorite foods, but it’s not always about which ones taste better, but more about which ones can benefit your health and which ones can put it in jeopardy. It turns out, even the most common, mundane-looking food could be plotting against you, so to stay alert, here are more of the Top 20 Foods That Can Literally Kill You (Part 2).

20. Tomatoes

Do you remember the time you found out tomatoes weren’t a vegetable but a fruit? Shock, confusion, and betrayal were probably the first emotions, but eventually, you got over it – or not. Well, today, we’re here to tell you that tomatoes could also potentially kill you. But, don’t worry just yet, it doesn’t have anything to do with the actual red juicy pulp and flesh. No, the risk comes from the stem and leaves of the tomato. They contain a poison called glycoalkaloid, known for causing upset stomachs, severe cramping, and anxiety, and can be toxic if eaten in large amounts. But, as long as you steer clear of those, your tomato should be good to go. 

19. Lima Beans

Beans, in general, are known to have many health benefits and to be a good addition to your diet, especially if it’s plant-based. Most of the time, they are – but that’s assuming you know how to prepare them properly. Otherwise, it’s just a catastrophe waiting to happen. Lima beans, in particular, need to be thoroughly cooked and drained in order to be safe for consumption. Lima beans contain a chemical compound called linamarin, which, when consumed and decomposed, can turn into hydrogen cyanide, another highly toxic component that attacks the brain, the heart, the blood vessels, and the lungs. While you’re probably not snacking on Lima beans for fun, just make sure they are always cooked to perfection – better safe than sorry. 

18. Tuna

Every sushi fanatic out there knows how tuna just hits different. It might be a guilty pleasure for many, but not everyone is aware of the dangers indulging in the fish can bring. It’s not news that children and pregnant women should stay away from raw fish like tuna, but why exactly? It all has to do with the high risk of mercury poisoning. If mercury is ingested, it will act as a neurotoxin and could cause itching, pain, high blood pressure, and other dangerous symptoms. However, it’s not only found in raw tuna – although it is the riskiest one: canned tuna is often the most common source of mercury in people’s diet. If tuna salad is your fave, you might want to switch things up a bit. 

17. Fruit Seeds

Bad news for fruit lovers: they might not be as safe as you thought – at least, not the ones that have seeds. So, fruits like apples, peaches, pears, mangos, cherries, and apricot could actually be the death of you thanks to their harmless-looking seeds. That’s because they contain amygdalin, another compound that produces cyanide. If ingested in large quantity, it could lead to dizziness, vomiting, kidney failure, coma, and well, death. Thankfully, though, you would need to eat an uncommonly absurd amount of seeds and pits to see any real reaction, but still. An apple a day keeps the doctor away, provided you don’t ingest those wicked seeds.

16. Bean Sprouts

For a nice refreshing salad or a comforting stew, bean sprouts are the peek of versatile vegetables. While they can be enjoyed both raw and cooked, you need to be extra careful when you consume them right out of the bag. Just like with any other produce that’s consumed raw or lightly cooked, sprouts are a stomping ground for food-borne illness, which is impossible to get rid of unless you cook them. The warm and moist conditions needed to grow sprouts put them in perfect conditions for the rapid growth of bacteria, including salmonella, listeria, and E. coli. Over the years, many outbreaks – sometimes deadly – have been associated with bean sprouts, which is why, it’s best to eat them cooked.

15. Starfruit

Starfruit, the colorful yellow fruit, is often used as an herbal remedy to treat many health problems. They help to reduce fevers, lower blood pressure, soothe headaches, and even relieve hangovers. However, these benefits are only good for certain people. If you happen to suffer from any type of kidney disease, you might want to avoid starfruit. Why? Because the substances found in it can affect the brain and cause serious neurological disorders. Those with healthy kidneys will process and pass this toxin from their bodies, no problem, but with kidney disease, the toxin will simply stay in the body and lead to serious problems like confusion, seizures, and even death in some cases. 

14. Casu Marzu

Cheese is usually a great, harmless addition to your meals. The keyword here is ” usually.” There are other times when cheese can be a little less wonderful and a little scary. That’s exactly the case with Casu Marzu, a rare, illegal cheese from Sardinia. Also known as “rotting cheese” or “maggot cheese,” Casu Marzu is an old delicacy made from sheep’s milk fermented with live fly larvae. If the ingredients weren’t enough to turn you off, maybe this will: the maggots sometimes survive in your intestine, which can lead to unwanted parasitic infestations and an array of unpleasant symptoms such as vomiting and bloody diarrhea. Probably not the best cheese to add to your charcuterie board; let’s just leave it at that. 

13. Lychee

Lychee has become the ultimate fruit for summer, as well as the go-to flavor for treats for many people. And, while, more often than not, it’s perfectly safe to eat, there are some exceptions. For instance, they should always be eaten in moderation, because as we all know, too much of anything is bad for you. The other thing: they should never be eaten unless they are fully ripe. This is because they can be poisonous, even fatal sometimes, since the toxins can block the body’s production of sugar. This can cause hypoglycemia and changes in brain function, fever, nausea, and convulsions – especially on an empty stomach. As long as they are ripe and you’re not fasting, lychees should be perfectly safe to eat. 

12. Peanuts

Out of every allergy known to man, a peanut allergy has got to be one of the most common and deadliest of all. For some people with a peanut allergy, even the tiniest amount or trace of peanuts can cause a severe, life-threatening reaction, with the most extreme being anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis can lead to significant constriction of the airways, shock, loss of consciousness, and, if left untreated, death. Milder symptoms include skin reactions, itching or tingling throat, and digestive problems. Whether the reaction is triggered by direct contact, cross-contamination, or inhalation, medical care should be sought immediately.

11. Cassava

Not a lot of people know about cassava, and yet, its popularity has drastically grown in the last few years. This is mostly thanks to the bubble tea craze that’s been going around. Indeed, those little tapioca bobas at the bottom of your cup are made from cassava root. Cassava flour has also become a very popular gluten-free alternative. The only problem: the leaves and roots contain chemicals that can convert to cyanide in the body if not prepared properly. As we’ve seen before, cyanide poisoning can have some serious repercussions on the body and lead to certain paralysis conditions. Cassava needs to be peeled and cooked thoroughly before it’s consumed; otherwise, you’re looking at some significant damages. 

10. Rice

What most people don’t know about their favorite starchy food is that it can contain a concerning amount of arsenic. Just by the name, you can already tell that it’s not there to bring you any kind of nutrients, but rather to cause some negative effects like nausea, abdominal pain, and vertigo if consumed in large quantities. Surprisingly enough, the highest levels of the toxin are usually found in brown rice and the lowest in instant rice. Arsenic won’t poison you all at once – it would be pretty hard to eat that much rice in a day – but it’s in the long run that it can be harmful. Consistent exposure can lead to heart disease and many cancers, so just beware of how much rice you eat! 

9. Ackee

Unless you have extensive knowledge of fruits or you’ve spent some time in Jamaica, you’re probably not familiar with the ackee plant, so let us bring you up to speed. Native to West Africa, the ackee or ankye is a pinkish plant usually used to create some out-of-this-world dishes, like ackee and saltfish, Jamaica’s national dish. However, this strange-looking ingredient should never be consumed before fully ripening. Being in the same family as lychee, unripe ackee contains toxic levels of hypoglycin A which can result in seizures, hypoglycemia, and even death. And while you’re at it, stay away from the seeds as well. Ackee is so dangerous; it was banned in the US until 2005. Today, the FDA accepts some shipments; only they have to be very low in toxin levels. 

8. Processed Meats

Everybody loves a good sandwich: whether it’s made with bacon, bologna, turkey – no one can deny just how tasty sandwiches are. But, because everything good has to have a bad side, processed meats aren’t your best option. That’s because they contain a lot of chemical compounds that are not present in fresh meat, and these can be very harmful to your health. Having a diet with a lot of processed meat products in it can increase your risk of chronic disease, especially cancer. In fact, bacon, and other meats containing a lot of nitrites and nitrates, have been linked to colon cancer. A little cold cut sandwich here, and there shouldn’t hurt too much; just make sure not to make this your everyday go-to sandwich filler. 

7. Margarine

Oh, margarine: everyone’s favorite butter substitute – well, unless you’re from Wisconsin, margarine is kind of a touchy subject over there. While it seems like the perfect backup plan for when you don’t want to consume all the fats found in butter, margarine isn’t as innocent as it leads people to believe. Indeed, most margarine brands are extremely high in hydrogenated oils, which are full of trans fats. Trans fats have been associated with increasing the risk for several health issues, including heart disease, cancer, and other chronic health conditions. Even though it does pack some heart-friendly nutrients, if we look at the big picture, the good doesn’t outweigh the bad very often. 

6. Unpasteurized Cheese

All kinds of cheese is good: hard, soft, shredded, melted – we don’t discriminate. The only kind of cheese we might have a problem with is the unpasteurized kind. These cheeses can be pretty dangerous for your health, especially for pregnant women. Unpasteurized cheese is the same as unpasteurized milk: it can carry various bacteria such as Salmonella, E. coli, Listeria, Campylobacter, and so many more food-borne illnesses. For safety reasons, the FDA banned unpasteurized cheese from being sold and exported. This is why raw cheeses like camembert aren’t available in the US, and we only have the fake kind, which obviously cannot compare to the real thing. 

5. Elderberries

At first glance, elderberries might seem completely harmless, but don’t be fooled; when they’re not ripe, they might as well be swapped with the Nightlock berries from the Hunger Games. Usually, elderberries can be quite helpful to boost your immune system, as they are packed with vitamins and antioxidants and can even help relieve stress and protect your heart. That is when they are cooked and ripe. Raw elderberries can cause nausea, vomiting, and all kinds of other symptoms, and that’s not even considering the poisonous leaves, stems, and roots. So, a piece of advice: always cook your berries before you eat them, plus, cooking them apparently improves the taste – talk about two birds with one stone!

4. Castor Oil

Nowadays, it feels like castor oil is used in everything: from soaps to plastic to food additives, you just can’t escape the darn stuff. However, since castor oil comes from the castor bean plant you should be careful about how much you ingest. It is loaded with ricin, a toxic enzyme that can cause nausea, cramps, dizziness, and muscle weakness. The heat applied during the oil extraction will usually deactivate the enzyme, but if left unheated, it’s another story. It is also advised for pregnant women to stay away from castor oil since it’s known to induce labor. 

3. Eggs

You’ve heard it once, and you’ll hear it again: eating raw eggs is never a good idea. Yes, many people put them in their smoothies or down one as part of their morning routine, but it’s not the safest of habits. Eggs are rich sources of protein and packed with nutrients when they’re cooked, but raw? You have a greater chance of consuming harmful bacteria. About one in 20,000 eggs contains Salmonella, which is pretty rare but still not odds you want to mess with. To avoid fever, cramps, and all that jazz, just cook your eggs!

2. Chicken

This also shouldn’t come as a shock – when you eat chicken, it needs to be well cooked, at least, if you don’t want to get sick. Poultry often serves as a source for all kinds of food poisoning, the most notable ones being Salmonella and campylobacter. In order to get rid of those bacteria, you need to cook your chicken at a minimum of 165 degrees. In Japan, however, there is such a thing as raw chicken sashimi, and it’s quite popular. Nonetheless, eating raw chicken is not recommended and is considered one of the main causes of many foodborne illnesses. 

1. Blood Clams

Seafood enthusiasts, this one’s for you – or not, actually. Cultured everywhere from South Africa to northern Japan, blood clams aren’t exactly the friendliest clams you’ll ever meet. Since they live in low-oxygen environments, it makes them more likely to absorb an array of harmful viruses and bacteria like hepatitis A, typhoid, and dysentery. Restaurants usually boil the clams until most of the microbes are gone, but ultimately, it’s impossible to get rid of all of the nastiness. Your best bet? Just steer clear of blood clams.

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