Deadly Four, But Did You Know It? Foods With Hidden Dangers

A post by Elizabeth Mason

1 – RICE – The idea that rice is dangerous to reheat is one that is commonly disputed. One of the most widely eaten dishes in the world it is considered a safe, basic and staple food source for many. On the whole, this is very true – rice recipes, when prepared and stored correctly are probably the least offensive food going. The trouble arises once cooked, and the rice is stored at room temperature. This moist and warm environment then becomes home to Bacillus cereus, a rather nasty bacterium. Doesn’t sound too good does it? This bacterium is not known to be deadly, but it can induce severe vomiting, diarrhoea, headaches and nausea. The obvious solution would be to reheat it, no? Even if the rice is reheated to above temperatures of 100°C, this is not enough to kill some of the spores and they will remain toxic.

Ok, so maybe rice isn’t exactly deadly but I thought it might be wise to start with something mild. Still, it’s fairly shocking that something so widely eaten and known as harmless actually possesses these attributes if not handled correctly, and hey, in the long run the diarrhetic syndromes could lead to death if persistent!

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2- POTATOES – A second commonly and widely eaten food is the potato. Similarly to rice, it is thought to be a harmless and rather ordinary food, appearing on most people’s dinner tables on most nights, but don’t be deceived.

Usually, the potato itself is rather harmless; it is the stems and leaves that contain the poison, glycoalkaloid. In some cases, the poison is known to spread in to the potato itself, causing it to appear green in parts. In high concentrations, this is known to cause death, following a coma and prolonged periods of weakness, nausea, and confusion. Although cases of death by potato are rare, they do happen. So, remember what your friends said to you when you were younger – the green crisps really are unlucky.

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3- APPLES – well, when I say apples, what I really mean is apple seeds. These seeds contain cyanide, albeit a fairly small dose but if you eat enough apples (and I mean the whole apple, not just the fleshy bit) then it could be deadly. After ingesting the toxin, cyanide removes an organ’s cells ability to utilise oxygen. Following this, aerobic respiration becomes redundant, affecting the central nervous system, the heart and slowly other organs as the cyanide makes its way around the body. As said before, in small amounts (such as the seeds of one apple) it has little or no effect however long term exposure will mean increased levels of cyanide in your blood, potentially resulting in permanent paralysis, nervous lesions and hypothyroidism. So next time you’re making an apple crumble be sure to keep an eye on the seeds.

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4 – CASHEW NUTS –A raw cashew contains a toxic chemical by the name of urushiol. To destroy this toxin, making the cashew safe for consumption, they need to be roasted, taking care to avoid allowing the smoke to escape as it carries the toxin with it in droplet form. When ingested, urushiol tricks the body to think that an attack is happening, triggering the immune system to send out a defence in the form of the release of enzymes from T-cells, these enzymes cause severe nerve damage, with severe cases resulting in death or permanent damage. It is enough to make you rethink all your recipe ideas.

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