While most people know that cakes and chocolate aren’t great for your health, there are other seemingly healthy foods whose dangerous properties slip under the radar. While it is unlikely moderate amounts of these foods will harm you, in large quantities – or in certain conditions – they may do more damage to your health than you think. Here are some of the most toxic common foods.
While mushrooms available in supermarkets are pretty safe to eat, mushroom fans need to be careful about what species' they are consuming as many varieties can be highly dangerous and even fatal. Around 100 species of mushrooms are said to be dangerous to humans, with symptoms ranging from headaches to seizures or even death. In 2010 a small variety of mushroom called the Little White was blamed for an estimated 400 deaths in China.
There has been much controversy about this seemingly innocent natural oil, but the general consensus seems to be that it could have many negative implications on our health. Reports state that the rape plant - from which the oil is produced - is extremely toxic, and side effects of consuming its oil could include respiratory problems and blindness.
It is impossible to dispute that rice has many great health benefits. However, like with most things, it may be best eaten in moderation due to its reportedly unsafe levels of arsenic. One study has suggested that one in five packs of American long-grain rice contain potentially harmful levels of the toxic substance, while others have reported concern for the levels of arsenic in rice milk and baby rice. While there is relatively little risk of the odd bowl of rice causing any long lasting harm, the consumption of high levels of arsenic has been linked to cancer.
Perhaps one of the most immediately dangerous foods on this list is also one of the most surprising, and that is the common store cupboard spice, nutmeg. Although, like many of the foods on the list, nutmeg does have reported health benefits, it can also be extremely dangerous when taken in large doses. Containing a toxic substance called myristicin, moderate proportions of nutmeg can cause hallucinations, while larger doses can cause convulsions, palpitations, nausea, dehydration and death.
Chillies are renowned for their heat, which is what makes them so popular. However, it is actually the chemical that causes this spiciness (capsaicin) which can cause toxic effects such as stomach pain, itchy skin and, in extreme cases, death. For most people eating chillies will do little harm, however capsaicin is best eaten sparingly so make sure to take it easy and avoid any chilli eating challenges!
We may be constantly urged to eat more oily fish, but research has suggested that consuming farmed salmon may not be the best way to do it. A study found that 13 different toxins - including PCBs, which have been classed as a probable human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - are at much higher levels in farm-raised salmon than in wild salmon.
Potatoes may look innocent enough, but studies show they contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids, which affect the nervous and digestive systems, causing headaches, weakness, confusion, diarrhoea and vomiting amongst other things. Poisoning from potatoes occurs very rarely but fans of the popular vegetable should take measures to protect themselves by avoiding potatoes with sprouts - which tend to have a higher concentration of glycoalkaloids - and those which have turned green.