Over the ages, humans have identified foods that are safe to eat. However, some everyday food items tend to make us seriously sick because it is improperly cooked or processed incorrectly. The following are some seemingly harmless foods that have the potential to make us extremely ill.
Red Kidney Beans
Though a staple in Indian cuisine, red kidney beans contain high amounts of phytohemagglutinin, a toxin that can cause poisoning if not soaked and properly cooked. Red kidney beans belong to the Fabaceae family or the bean family. Many members of the family are quite toxic, and they contain indigestible substances. However, the red kidney beans are the most potent if their toxins are not removed. Procedure for removal of toxins includes soaking the beans and heating them to their boiling point for at least 30 minutes before consumption. Just as little as five raw beans can cause severe vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. Symptoms can escalate drastically based on the individual’s age and other underlying conditions. If enough beans are consumed, it has the potential to cause death.
Unlike fish or dairy animals, lobsters are cooked alive. The reason for doing so is that lobsters contain a group of bacteria called Vibrio bacteria that quickly multiplies once the organism dies. These bacteria then release toxins which are quite harmful to us even if it is cooked thoroughly. When this bacteria infects a person, it can cause a potentially life-threatening disease called vibriosis. Symptoms of vibriosis include extreme abdominal cramps, nausea, vomiting, and severe diarrhoea. Individuals with weak immune systems may experience fever and chills. Blood pressure may decrease, and skin lesions might appear. Moreover, individuals with hepatitis, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and liver disease tend to experience severe symptoms. The average mortality rate for vibriosis infection is around 25%, but if the infection worsens, the rate rises to 50%.
Tomatoes are touted as a healthy vegetable (technically a fruit) that is consumed the world over. The plant grows best in loamy soil with exposure to direct sunlight for at least 8 hours a day. Tomatoes contain an antioxidant called lycopene, which is shown to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, macular degeneration and even cancer. Tomatoes also contain an alkaloid called tomatine, which is quite toxic. However, the highest concentrations of this toxin are found in the leaves and stem of the tomato. High levels of this alkaloid are also found in the unripe fruit. Tomatoes also contain another toxic chemical called atropine that can result in digestive issues. To be poisoned, an individual must consume large quantities of the plant, including the leaves and stem. However, the toxic effects are more pronounced in dogs; hence it would be wise to keep pets away from tomato plants.
Common Inkcap Mushroom
Also known as the inky cap, Coprinopsis atramentaria is an edible mushroom that falls under the genus Coprinopsis. The mushroom is perfectly safe to consume; however, if alcohol is consumed immediately after consuming the mushrooms, then the affected individual experiences “disulfiram syndrome”. The syndrome is named after Disulfiram, a drug used to treat chronic alcoholism by inducing acute sensitivity to ethanol. Hence, symptoms include reddening of the face, malaise, palpitations, and tingling in the limbs. In rare cases, it has been known to cause atrial fibrillations and heart attacks.
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