Tuesday, October 29, 2013

FOODucation: Foods That Could Kill You

Pop quiz! Of the following, which does not belong? Cherries, Apricots, Plums, Peaches, Cyanide?
If you guessed Cyanide, I'm sorry to say that is incorrect. Actually, they all belong!

Today's post is about educating the lethality of common foods!! AHH!!! Now there's a real Halloween scare! Bon Appetit not only provides great recipes, but they also have some interesting articles, one of them is entitled "8 Foods That Could Kill You (If You Eat Enough of Them)."

Cherries, Apricots, Plums, Peaches: Cyanide
Stone Fruits: Cherries, Apricots, Plums, Peaches
Some stone fruit contain cyanogenic compounds. For example, swallowing a cherry pit is not a problem, unless it happens to be broken. A single cherry yields about 0.17g of cyanide per gram of seed which does not seem like much, but 0.1g of hydrogen cyanide is enough to put a 150-lb human down for the count. So I'd advise you take the extra few seconds it takes to spit out the seed instead of swallowing it!

Rice: Arsenic
It would appear there is another hit against sushi. Brown rice has the highest amounts of arsenic, a toxin that may cause vomiting and abdominal pain in large amounts. The good news is that it is quite difficult to consume enough rice in one sitting to produce any harmful effects.....the bad news is that over time, consistent exposure to the toxin increases changes of heart disease and bladder cancer. The FDA states there is 2.6-7.2 micrograms of inorganic arsenic in one serving of rice and it takes about 50g of arsenic to cause death in a 150-lb individual. So unless you intend to consume 1800 cups of rice in a single evening, I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Rhubarb: Oxalic Acid
Pie anyone? The leaves of this plant contains oxalic acid, a chemical found in bleach and anti-rust products! Although eating the leaves can causing burning sensations, and cooking doesn't get rid of the chemical, the good news is that it would take a 130-lb person to eat 10lbs of the leaves to show symptoms of poisoning.

Potatoes: Solanine
Not the french fries!!! Green potatoes contain concentrated amounts of solanine, a natural pesticide. Poisoning leads to vomiting, diarrhea and even cardiac arrest. To show symptoms it would take a 100-lb adult to consume a full pound of completely green potatoes.

Apples and Pears: More Cyanide
Apples and Pears
Cyanide, revisited! Dun dun dun! Yet again the seeds are the culprit behind potential cyanide poisoning. Apple seeds contain about 700mg of hydrogen cyanide per kg translating into about a 1/4 lb of seeds or 25 apple cores in one sitting....I guess this wouldn't keep the doctor away..

All photos and information were taken from this article:

Stay healthy and safe everyone!
- Charles Quinto