There are foods that we consume on a daily basis without the knowledge of the harm they can create within the human body if not cooked properly. Some of these foods may even be toxic.
Here is a list of foods that may cause food poisoning or toxicity:
- A food staple such as cassava which is likened to the potato and often used as a side dish can be poisonous to the human body if not prepared accurately. Cassava is best prepared through boiling, fermenting, and sun drying. It is used to make all sorts of food products and meals such as flour, tapioca pudding, bread, bammy cakes, and stews. When cassava is not cooked using the appropriate method, it may cause cyanide poisoning leading to paralysis when high levels are consumed.
- Ackee is a fruit served with many dishes in Jamaica, when not ripened or cooked properly, has the potential to cause coma and death. The seeds are very toxic and contain a fatal poison called hypoglycin.
- Green Vegetables are supposed to be good for you but are also known to cause toxicity. Vegetables such as lettuce, spinach, cabbage, and arugula are extremely toxic if not rinsed properly. The leaves contain E-Coli bacteria, salmonella, and norovirus pathogens.
- Wild Mushrooms are very poisonous and can lead to liver damage. Mushrooms contain a toxin called Alpha-amanitin that causes severe gastrointestinal discomfort. The most poisonous mushrooms are toadstool, amanita, false morels, and the Jack O’ Lantern. The toxins found in these mushrooms create symptoms of dizziness, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach cramps and in certain cases death.
- Raw cashews are supposed to be healthier for those suffering from allergies contain a chemical similar to poison ivy called urushiol. If consumed in large doses, urushiol can have fatal outcomes. Raw cashews are typically steamed to decrease the harmful effects of this chemical.
- Most people enjoy chili peppers because they add a little spice to their food, or for medicinal purposes. Chili peppers have an ingredient called capsaicin that alleviates inflammation and is very good for the heart. When consumed in large quantities it can cause death. Therefore, it is best to exercise moderation when using peppers in meal preparation.
- Potatoes, which are a common food staple in most homes, have tremendous nutritional value because they improve heart health, and prevent inflammation and constipation. They also help with the reduction of psychological stress. However, when potatoes are not properly harvested and exhibit a greenish color, the vegetable is said to contain glycoalkaloid poison. This chemical causes neurological disorders, like hypotension, weak pulse and may lead to coma. Potatoes with greenish looking skin should not be consumed.
- Cherries help prevent gout, regulate hormones and promote sleep because they contain melatonin. Although, they are used for various meals and desserts they are very toxic. The pits of the cherries possess hydrogen cyanide, which causes mild poisoning. Symptoms usually manifest as headaches, confusion, anxiety and difficulty breathing. The cyanide can induce coma, initiate convulsions and respiratory arrests.
- Tomato is a fruit most cooks use in sauces, stews, and seasonings. They contain a poison called glycoalkaloid; a chemical used to terminate insects. Adverse reactions may create symptoms of nausea and nervousness. When using tomato for culinary endeavors, it is best to discard the leaves and stems.
- Peanuts which are distributed at most pubs and sold at many fairs and amusement parks cause liver cancer when not rustled up correctly. Peanuts are considered a carcinogen (cancer-causing) when not roasted.
- Tuna often used in sushi is toxic because it contains high levels of mercury. The toxicity causes damage to the central nervous system, exhibiting as tremors, unsteady gait, and personality changes.
- Corn is the one vegetable that most people like to consume because of its sweet taste. Corn and products made from corn such as cornmeal and high fructose corn syrup are responsible for damaging neurological side effects because they eliminate neurons in the body. Research has also suggested that corn may create neurological deficits in autistic individuals because it contains aflatoxin, a substance that also causes liver damage and cancer.
Most people have been conditioned to believe that food poisoning or toxicity can only occur through food consumption at eating establishments. The fact of the matter is, improper food handling causes food poisoning.
To prevent toxicity in food or from becoming contaminated, practice the following steps:
- Wash food thoroughly.
- Keep fridge temperature at 5 degrees Celsius or 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Cool temperatures prevent food poisoning bugs from multiplying.
- Keep meat separate from fruits, vegetables, and dairy.
- Keep the kitchen clean.
- Wash hands before meal preparation.
- Pay attention to expiration dates on food items.
- Cook foods thoroughly at high temperatures to kill bacteria.
Toxin-producing bacteria is not always visible to food preparers. Therefore, be diligent; use precautionary measures so that the bacteria do not experience rapid growth.
Simple procedures such as using anti-bacterial dish soaps for countertops, and maintaining clean utensils and dishrags can go a long way in eliminating pesky issues as they relate to food safety and toxicity.
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