We are always advised by doctors to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables for healthy body systems. We are further informed that these fruits and vegetables have the necessary vitamins and minerals and helps in digestion among many other benefits. They are planted and produced in the backyard gardens and large farms with the strictest of controls. However these foodstuffs at times poison the consumers – and in some cases fatally. This can be as a result of eating the wrong part of the fruit or poorly cooking the vegetable.
These are delicacies in many parts of the world where they are produced commercially or harvested in the wild for family consumption. One family of the mushrooms is known as toadstools which are vey poisonous. Thee usually are some signs that help in knowing if a mushroom is poisonous however, these are not regularly visible and consistent given the fact that the origin of some mushrooms is usually not known. One should keenly observe for the visible signs if the mushrooms are poisonous or not, safe mushrooms have flat caps with no bumps with pink or black gills attached to it. It has been observed that more often than not, white grills attached on the stalk are noticed in poisonous.
Elderberry trees are beautiful and flowery with a major use in the food industry. The trees are usually large and covered with delicately scented tiny flowers used in making elderflower liqueur and soda. The flowers can be eaten safely after deep frying although the root and parts of the tree are very poisonous to the body system and can result in stomach problems it is highly advised that the consumers to only eat the flowers and after buttering and frying.
Castor oil is very common in our lives with the beginning being childhood, but most people don’t know how poisonous it is; a single bean can kill a person from its ricin content. This is a serious poison which when ingested can cause extreme stomach pain and diarrhea causing dehydration and may be death if not treated in time. The processing of castor oil is usually done under strict guideline so as to produce the end products like being added to candies, chocolate, and other foods. However, the workers in the fields and factories usually suffer some serious effects which happen when they accidentally get in contact with ricin mostly by inhalation.
The other poisonous regularly used food is almonds; it is very useful and has a unique taste hence its well known use in pastry kitchens over the years. The most preferred type, bitter almonds also are the most poisonous containing an amide called cyanide a very lethal of substance ever known, that is why countries like New Zealand have illegalized its sale. It is strongly advised that the bitter almonds be processed as per directives before consumption to remove totally the cyanide. In the USA only heat treated almonds are permitted to be sold since the heating destroys the poison and traces of bacteria. One however can use the pip from apricots even though they also have cyanide contained in them.
The leaves and seeds of cherry contain prussic acid which is a cyanide derivative called hydrogen cyanide. It is common with almonds plums apricots and peaches since they are from the same family. Cherries are known to be used in cooking, liqueur production, or eaten raw, but to avoid being poisoned, one should not crush, chew, or even injure at all the seeds of cherry as this will cause them to produce prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide). When eating the seeds don’t suck on the pip as this will initiate the production of the lethal poison.
The seeds of the apple like that of cherries and almonds also contain cyanide though in much smaller doses. The seeds need to be eaten in large amounts to elicit poisonous symptoms however, the seeds in one or two apples are not enough to poison the consumer therefore it is fairly safe as long as you don’t eat too many of its fruits. Even though the seeds are usually not to be eaten, they get crushed or swallowed accidentally and this is not easy to avoid.
Rhubarb has been used for many years for pudding for the leaves and eating the stem with the roots being utilized for medical purposes as a laxative. It is easily grown at home mostly for its pudding which is very tasty; however the leaves are poisonous and contains a corrosive acid. Mixing the leaves with water and soda makes it extremely potent
A vegetable in use daily in our kitchens is tomato, very tasty and makes good stew and salad, but unknown to many its leaves and stems contain a chemical called “Glycoalkaloid" an alkaloid which when ingested has the symptoms of extreme nervousness and stomach upsets. The leaves and stem are usually used in cooking enhancing taste and flavor of food even though this allow for some of the alkaloids to seep into the food. They must be removed from the food before eating to avoid the poison in the leaves.
These too have been in use for centuries since 16th century making a common vegetable mostly in the world. Similarly to tomatoes potatoes contain glycoalkaloids in the stems and leaves and at times in the potato itself. When in the ground and the potato is exposed to too much ultraviolet radiation when soil gives way above it, high concentration of the glycoalkaloid is concentrated on the exposed part making it turn green. One is advised to throw away the green ones since they are deadly even though potato poisoning is rare. It results in weakness then coma and has been known to be caused by taking the green potatoes or potato leaves tea
Lima beans have been known to contain a toxic cianoglicoside called limarin. These beans have to be cooked for about ten minutes to render the poison harmless and give the beans good taste. Its poisoning can make the consumer violently ill if not cooked as directed, however the beans are a good source of nutrients.
There are many more foods that are poisonous when taken or cooked in a way not recommended and can easily kill; people are advised to be very careful when preparing all types of fruits and vegetables for safe eating.