When we look around we can see the land and sea to be full of flavors and food available in various forms. Man can tantalizingly treat his taste buds from all the food available. Over the years, mankind learned to cook and assemble each food in the best way possible. There are many food items which we use in our daily meal and they are high in nutritional value but they may either have poisonous varieties or they need to be treated or cooked properly in order to avoid the poisoning. I thought to gather some information on such food items and list down a few of them.
10. Raw Cashew Nuts
Cashew nuts are delicious and the most desired of all the nuts. They are “Nature’s Vitamin Pill”. They are rich in zinc and good fat. These mouth watering nuts are related to poisonous ivy and poisonous oak. Urushiol is a skin irritant present in the shell of the raw unroasted cashew nuts. The cashew nuts when eaten or brought in contact with the skin when raw and not roasted cause skin itching, rash and allergy. There is a liquid present on the inner surface of the shell of the cashew nut. This liquid poisons the nut, if accidentally comes in contact with the cashew nut while breaking the shell.
9. Kidney Beans
Legumes have amazing nutritional qualities and are a part of balanced diet. They are high proteins, minerals, dietary fibers and complex carbohydrates and have low fat and cholesterol. We use legumes in our daily life but we are unaware that some legumes contain a toxin known as phytohemagglutinin (PHP) which is very high in kidney beans. One raw kidney bean contains around 70,000 hau and only few raw kidney beans have serious health hazards depending on the sensitivity of the person eating them. This toxin effects the cell metabolism and agglutinates most red blood cells. It attacks epithelial cells lining of the intestine and disables it. Only 5 raw kidney beans can cause reaction within 3 hours including nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Recovery occurs in 4 to 5 hours. This doesn’t mean that one should stop eating the beans. The beans should be treated and cooked properly to bring the poison to a safe level. If cooked incorrectly the poison increases by many folds. They should be soaked in water for a long time before cooking. Then after throwing that water they should be boiled in fresh water at 100 degrees for 10 minutes or more.
8. Stone Fruits (Peach, Apricot, Almond etc.)
Stone fruits include fruits like peach, apricot, almonds and cherries. They have excellent and exotic taste and high nutritional value. Stone fruits contain poisonous hydrocyanic (prussic) acid (HCN) in the pits and foliage. Since the poisonous cyanide is combined with one or more sugars, these molecules are referred to as cyanogenetic glucosides. HCN poisoning can be fatal. The cells stop absorbing oxygen and thus die from lack of oxygen even though oxygen is plentiful in the blood. Only 0.06gram is enough to cause death in many people. To avoid this, the seeds of the stone fruits should never be eaten. Almonds are the exception.
There are many berries like honeysuckle, wild strawberry, yew, holly, American bittersweet, elderberry, doll’s eye and jerusalem cerry among many other which may fool anyone by their looks and fragrance but care should be taken in eating berries because they may be poisonous in nature. Wild strawberry is so difficult to identify from the farmed strawberry. They look identical but differ in taste. The wild one is not as sweet as the farmed one. Only 3 pieces of holly, yew and many other berries cause nausea, sickness, vomiting and diarrhea. Rule is that we should avoid eating wild berries and if one eats a wild poisonous berry by mistake, one must immediately throw out.
6. Ackee/Vegetable Brain/Akee/Akee Apple
The fruit of the ackee is from an evergreen tree. This fruit is from the family of lychee and longan. The fruit is poisonous in nature and has a high content of fatty acids, zinc, proteins and vitamins. Only the inner, fleshy yellow arils can be consumed after proper cleaning and cooking. Raw ackees and the inner red tissue of the ripe ackees contain potent alkaloid toxins. These toxins cause fatal hypoglycemia after vomiting and seizures. This is known as Jamacian vomiting sickness. To avoid poisoning from the fruit, it must be harvested and cooked with care and in a proper way. The farmers must allow the pods of the fruit to ripen and open naturally in the tree. Picking should be done only after the pods are open. Careful cleaning of the fruit is done before cooking. The fruit must be boiled for at least 30 minutes and the water is discarded.