7 Daily Poisonous Foods That Can Silently Kill You

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Did you know that certain foods in your kitchen could silently harm you? This article explores seven everyday kitchen staples that may pose hidden health risks, urging readers to remain vigilant about proper storage and preparation.

7 Daily Poisonous Foods That Can Silently Kill You

Some corners of our kitchens may lie potential hazards that often go unnoticed. Poisonous foods hidden in our everyday staples and ingredients pose a silent threat to our health. From misidentified mushrooms to poorly stored grains, the risks are persistent, diverse, and often overlooked.

Let’s explore these dangers step by step, ensuring that our kitchens remain safe and healthy.

7. Green Potato

Potatoes are incredibly versatile, whether mashed, fried, or baked, these tubers add a comforting touch to any meal. Its potential is as endless as your culinary imagination!

Potatoes are also a staple in many diets, packing a punch with essential nutrients like vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber. 

However, have you ever noticed those greenish potatoes in your pantry? That’s greening, and it’s not a good sign.

Greenish or sprouted potatoes, if not stored properly, harbor a potential danger in the form of toxic glycoalkaloids like solanine. Greening occurs when potatoes are exposed to light, particularly artificial light.

While greening itself isn’t directly linked to glycoalkaloid production, green potatoes indicate higher levels of glycoalkaloids. 

Yes, the nutritional value of potatoes is amazing, but eating green potatoes can cause acute solanine poisoning. Symptoms include gastrointestinal problems like vomiting and diarrhea. At higher doses, these toxins can even lead to fever, fast heartbeat, low blood pressure, rapid breathing, and nerve issues.

So, store your potatoes in a dark, cool place to prevent any unwanted surprises. And the next time you spot a green potato, don’t forget to play it safe and toss it out.

Read more: Do Potatoes Spike Blood Sugar?

6. Certain Fruit Pits

Among the list of potentially hazardous foods, the inclusion of fruit pits might surprise some people. Have you ever unknowingly swallowed the pits while enjoying your favorite fruits? It’s easy to swallow fruit pits since fruits are so common in our kitchens.

But do we really understand the hidden dangers lurking in our fruit bowls? Cyanogenic glycosides (or CGs) found in certain fruit pits can release highly toxic cyanide in the body when metabolized.

In a 2020 study at the Ohio State University, researchers found a historical toxin called cyanide in various plants and seeds. This toxin disrupts an essential process called oxidative phosphorylation, which is needed to produce ATP, our “energy currency”. This disruption can lead to the collapse of vital oxygen-dependent systems in our bodies, including the central nervous and cardiovascular systems.

Cyanide toxicity symptoms typically begin with slowed heart rate and increased blood pressure, followed by rapid breathing, distinct cherry-red skin color, black residue in the mouth, sweating, confusion, dilated pupils, coordination loss, seizures, and eventual coma. 

Certain fruits from the rose family, like apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, and gages, have higher levels of CGs. Apricot kernel consumption has been associated with many poisoning cases.

A 2022 study at the University of Maribor also emphasizes caution when eating kernels or seeds from fruits like greengages, apples, plums, pears, nectarines, cherries, and peaches. Greengage is a type of plum and its pits contain relatively high cyanide levels.

However, keep in mind that it would take around 3-4 apricot pits consumed over a short time to reach the threshold for symptoms in an adult. Cyanide toxicity occurs in humans at doses of about 0.5–3.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Apricot kernels contain 14.4 mg/g of cyanide, while plum kernels contain 2.2 mg/g. So, a 75 kg person would need 37.5 mg of cyanide. Eating about four kernels of apricots, which is roughly 2.4 grams, would meet this threshold. But the amount needed would be less for kids.

So, it’s a sobering reminder: enjoy your fruits with caution and avoid swallowing or blending pits into shakes or juices.

Read more: Dragon Fruit Magic: 5 Health Benefits You Can’t Ignore

5. Bitter Almonds

Almonds are renowned for their versatility and numerous health benefits. Commonly consumed as a snack or added to salads, desserts, and savory recipes, almonds are loved for their rich nutrients—packed with healthy fats, protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. 

While almonds are generally safe to eat, caution is needed with bitter almonds. They contain amygdalin, a type of cyanogenic glycoside—or, again, CGs. These compounds are found in plants like stone fruits from the rose family.

So, do you remember that those CGs, including amygdalin, are mainly located in the pits, as we mentioned in the “Fruit pits” section? Yes, the pits containing amygdalin are usually tossed aside. Normally, even with high levels of amygdalin in the pits, the fruits’ quality remains unaffected. But in the case of almonds, where the kernel is the edible part, things get interesting.

Bitter almond kernels can contain much more amygdalin than their sweeter counterparts—up to 1,000 times more. Amygdalin, just like other CGs, can release cyanide when metabolized in the body. 

Cyanide causes damage by depriving cells of oxygen and reducing ATP levels, causing metabolic acidosis and a shift from aerobic to anaerobic metabolism. When someone is affected by cyanide poisoning, they might initially notice a fast heartbeat and elevated blood pressure. But in severe cases, they can worsen to include slow heartbeat, low blood pressure, and, in extreme instances, cardiac arrest.

So, when it comes to almonds, steer clear of bitter varieties. Bitter almonds are prohibited for sale in the United States but may be found in other countries. 

Read more: Peanuts and Diabetes: Benefits, Risks and Best Ways To Eat

4. Certain Mushrooms

Mushrooms, prized for their flavor and texture, are a kitchen staple. Yet, they conceal potential risks that demand caution. Despite their culinary appeal, certain types can be toxic if handled or consumed improperly. 

Mushrooms, which are the fruiting bodies of fungi, can pose a risk of poisoning due to misidentification. Eating poisonous mushrooms can lead to mild stomach discomfort or severe health issues like liver failure, kidney failure, and neurological complications. 

There are around 14 known syndromes linked to eating mushrooms, with symptoms varying depending on the species and toxins. Symptoms can include acute gastroenteritis or inflammation, hallucinations, nerve issues, liver and kidney toxicity, and seizures. 

Examples of poisonous mushrooms include the Deathcap mushroom (Amanita phalloides), Fool’s Webcap (Cortinarius orellanus), and Frosty Funnel (Clitocybe phyllophila). Don’t forget to exercise caution and proper identification when gathering or eating mushrooms to prevent any potential harm.

Read more: 25 Healthy Dinner Ideas for Weight Loss

3. Raw Kidney Beans

Kidney beans, a staple in many cuisines, are enjoyed for their versatility. However, handling and cooking them properly is crucial to stay safe. Unfortunately, only a few people realize the hidden dangers lurking inside their raw or improperly cooked form. 

Phytohemagglutinin (or PHA) is a lectin commonly present in legumes such as black beans, kidney beans, white beans, lima beans, pinto beans, and fava beans from the Fabaceae family. These beans are a crucial part of many diets, but they can contain high levels of PHA, particularly when eaten raw.

Raw kidney beans, for example, may contain between 20,000 and 70,000 HAU/g (hemagglutinating units per gram) of PHA. However, thorough cooking reduces the PHA levels to below 400 HAU/g (hemagglutinating units per gram), which is much safer to eat.

Consuming four to five raw or poorly prepared kidney beans can cause gastrointestinal issues, manifesting as anything from mild to severe vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach pain within one to three hours after eating. So, make sure kidney beans and other beans are fully cooked to avoid problems. If they’re still firm, they’re not done.

There are some other ways to handle beans properly and avoid the PHA risks. First, soak your dried beans in water for a few hours or overnight before cooking. Then, drain and rinse them well to soften them up while lowering the PHA levels. It’s best not to cook them at low temperatures. Remember: high heat is PHA’s worst enemy!

Read more: Are Beans Good for Diabetics?

2. Raw Cashews

Cashews are a popular snack, often enjoyed for their creamy texture and nutty flavor. Yet, be aware of the potential dangers linked with eating them raw. 

Unlike other nuts, raw cashews contain a toxic compound called urushiol, as they belong to the Anacardiaceae family. This family is notorious for causing more dermatitis cases globally than any other plant group due to urushiol. Urushiol can trigger both irritant and allergic contact dermatitis, potentially leading to skin issues. Other plants belonging to this family are marking nuts, pistachios, mangoes, poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, and Japanese lacquer trees. Yes, even mangoes and pistachios can also cause trouble because of their urushiol content, so watch out!

Coming back to cashew nuts, while their kernels are safe, their shells, or pericarps, contain urushiols. This possibly causes dermatitis for those who are allergic or sensitive, akin to poison ivy reactions. 

While raw cashews may seem like a tempting treat, it’s important to choose roasted varieties to avoid any potential health hazards.

Read more: 12 Essential Iron-Rich Foods To Eat From Everyday

1. Brown Rice

Brown rice is a beloved dietary staple that’s probably sitting in many families’ pantries right now. That nutty-flavored grain is not only delicious but also super versatile in all sorts of dishes. 

However, brown rice harbors a hidden danger: arsenic. This element, present in soil and water, poses serious health risks as a carcinogen and mutagen. And get this—brown rice can contain higher levels of arsenic than the limit set for drinking water. Arsenic accumulates in the grains’ outer layers, which are removed during the refining process to make white rice. In a recent study of Portuguese rice, arsenic was present in 100% of brown rice samples compared to only 68.29% of white rice samples. 

Studies have revealed a concerning link between exposure to inorganic arsenic before birth and DNA damage in unborn babies. Recently, health assessments have also raised alarms about the arsenic in rice and rice-based products like cereals and crackers, which heightens cancer risks, especially among infants and children.

Research suggests three potential mechanisms. Firstly, arsenic can affect chromosomes—the DNA-containing package in cells. Plus, arsenic exposure can also generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the body, inducing oxidative stress. Arsenic can also directly impact some signaling pathways, disrupting cell growth and survival. Since cancer cells originate from abnormal cells, these three mechanisms create an environment conducive to cancer development.

This isn’t just theoretical—regular consumption of arsenic-contaminated foods or water increases the risk of prostate, lung, bladder, pancreatic, and skin cancer.

Furthermore, long-term exposure to arsenic is associated with cardiovascular problems and obesity. People with arsenic-induced metabolic syndrome often have a large waistline, high blood pressure, elevated blood sugar, high triglyceride levels, and low HDL cholesterol. 

After all, a healthy diet is all about balance and awareness. As brown rice is packed with more fiber and nutrients compared to its white counterpart and remains a beloved dietary choice, it’s wise to take precautions when you eat.

Having white or brown rice occasionally is okay, but it’s best not to eat it multiple times a week. This is especially important for infants and children because they can be exposed to up to three times more arsenic from rice than adults. For them, even low levels of arsenic exposure have been linked to problems with brain development, intelligence, and memory.

If you’re thinking about swapping out brown rice, check out these low-arsenic options: quinoa, barley, couscous, buckwheat, millet, farro, and sorghum.

Our kitchens are full of both culinary delights and potential hazards. The dangers lurk beyond expired dairy and undercooked meats. From misidentified mushrooms to improperly stored potatoes, the risks are varied and often underestimated. 

Some threats hide in certain fruits’ seeds and pits, as well as green potatoes. Even seemingly innocent snacks like bitter almonds and raw cashews can contain toxins if not processed correctly. Staple foods like brown rice when consumed in regular large quantities and uncooked kidney beans may also harbor harmful substances. And let’s not overlook mushrooms—while flavorful, some varieties can be poisonous.

It’s crucial to stay vigilant and informed, prioritizing safe food practices to ensure our kitchen remains a haven of nourishment and safety.

Read more: Recognize Your Hunger: 15 Reasons Why You Are Always Hungry


The article highlights seven dangerous foods commonly found in kitchens: green potatoes, fruit pits, bitter almonds, certain mushrooms, raw kidney beans, raw cashews, and brown rice with arsenic. It emphasizes safe handling and consumption practices to prevent health risks.

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