The Totally Normal Foods You Never Realized Were Super Risky

What risks are you taking by eating your favorite foods?

March 1, 2017
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Food is the fuel that keeps our bodies going, usually. Some foods, as it turns out, tear your body apart. You’ll never believe the risks you’re taking by eating these totally normal foods.

13. Nutella

If you’re a fan of Nutella—which, really, who isn’t, these days?—you’ve probably heard of the recent revelation that it might be dangerous. Now, whether it really poses a risk is still up for debate, but, as of now, “The European Food Standards Authority has previously declared that the palm oil [used in Nutella] contains a contaminant, known as glycidyl fatty acid ester, which is carcinogenic.”

Currently, it’s uncertain whether Nutella/palm oil becomes dangerous after a particular amount is consumed, but “due to a lack of definitive data, no level could be considered safe.” Not to mention that many animal rights groups say that acres of rainforest are cleared hourly to harvest palm oil, which severely impacts the habitats of already endangered orangutans.

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Greenpeace

Unfortunately, according to the manufacturer, Ferrero, removing palm oil doesn’t appear to be a viable option. Vincenzo Tapella, the purchasing manager, noted, “Making Nutella without palm oil would produce an inferior substitute for the real product; it would be a step backward.”

Well, at least we know they’re putting health and safety above all else, right?

12. Tomatoes

Among the most identity-challenged foods (is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? Will the debate and confusion ever end?), one thing is for certain when it comes to these plump red plants. Their leaves are laced with Glycoalkaloid, which is a poison that’s “known for causing upset stomachs, severe cramping, and anxiety.”

To be safe, just ensure that you avoid those pesky leaves, as well as the stems. You can never be too careful, after all.

11. Potatoes

Not only are they featured alongside tomatoes in those famous lines ( “You like potato and I like potahto / You like tomato and I like tomahto”), but similarly to tomatoes, potatoes are stricken with poisonous leaves.

Their stems are also poisonous, and as it turns out, there have even been “potato-related deaths,” which tend to arise from “eating green potatoes, or drinking potato leaf tea.” If you’re ever offered either of these, just politely decline and move along.

10. Cherries

If you don’t get too worked up about eating cherries with the seeds in tact, you might want to be more mindful of it. As it turns out, convenience or not wanting to choke on a seed aren’t the only reasons to avoid them with this fruit.

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Clem Onojeghuo

Cherry seeds are not only a pain to have to spit out into a napkin when no one’s looking, but there just so happens to be hydrogen cyanide in them.

9. Almonds

They may be a handy and convenient way to get your protein in on the go, but almonds aren’t exactly what they seem. For one, an almond isn’t a nut, but a seed—mind blown, right? But more disturbingly, similar to cherries, they’re potentially poisonous. According to Delish, “Bitter almonds, while in their raw form, are full of [cyanide].” How is it that seemingly raw almonds are packaged and sold in supermarkets all over then?

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Jan Vašek

Well, as it turns out, there’s “a specialized heat treatment … [used] in order to remove the toxins.”

8. Raw Meat and Uncooked Eggs

Now this one probably sounds like common sense. After all, most of us have been told the cautionary tales of those who eat raw cookie dough, even if we haven’t experienced it ourselves.

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What you might not know though is that uncooked eggs aren’t alone in being possible carriers of salmonella. In fact, “Raw meat—including red meat, poultry, and seafood … can contain salmonella bacteria.” What exactly does this lead to, if consumed though, you might wonder?

Well, it can lead to something called gastroenteritis, as well as “serious complications, such as bacteremia (when salmonella enters the bloodstream),” and it can threaten the life of a person whose immune system is on the weaker side.

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If you’re really in the mood for cookie dough, there are plenty of eggless options out there—or else cookie dough ice cream might be your best alternative. If it’s raw meat or fish you’re in the mood for, make sure you’re getting your sushi from a reliable place, certified to serve you rare/raw meat or fish.

7. Coffee

If you’re a fan of iced coffee over hot, then you might only need to worry about “the possibility of increased heart rate, trouble sleeping and discoloration of teeth” when you’re downing a cup of your caffeine of choice. For those who favor a hot latte or anything of the sort though, beware of just how hot your coffee is.

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Given an incident in 1992 which resulted in a 170-degree cup of coffee causing a McDonald’s customer to have “third-degree burns over 6 percent of her body,” Mickey D’s has since “lowered the temperature at which it brews coffee and made warning labels more prominent.”

Starbucks though, has done the opposite and “reportedly brews its coffee at higher levels to this day.” Yikes!

6. Mushrooms

No, not that kind of ‘shrooms. If you see a wild mushroom—or just about any food in the wild—you’re not supposed to eat it (common sense, we know, but the reminder can’t hurt).

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Certain types of mushrooms (for instance, Destroying Angels) are not only poisonous but potentially deadly if consumed.

5. Leafy Greens

Though you likely believe leafy salads to be among the healthier options when you’re eating out, “Leafy greens — including spinach, lettuce, cabbage, arugula and kale — were listed as the riskiest foods of 2009, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is regulated by the FDA.” Scary, right?

As it turns out, there were “363 separate outbreaks linked to the veggies [in 2009]; 240 of those cases were linked to food from restaurants.”

The pathogen in question? Norovirus. You might want to put away any food while reading this, because it’s more than a bit unsavory. Basically, if the person dealing with your food happens to be under the weather and has forgotten to wash their hands, you’re at risk.

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Salmonella and E. coli were among the other culprits, “both of which can be introduced during the production phase if the greens come into contact with animal manure, contaminated water or wild animals.” Maybe you should do more research before you eat out after all…

4. Raw Cashews

Similarly to raw almonds, the cashews you believe to be raw are a bit misleading, as they “have been steamed to remove a deadly chemical: urushiol.” While this “can be found in poison ivy,” which as we know isn’t usually thought of as more than an itchy plant, high levels of urushiol can be fatal.

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As a precaution, you should just ensure that your cashews aren’t “truly raw” any time you plan to consume them.

3. Apricot Seeds

In case you hadn’t read enough about cyanide and all the seemingly edible places it can be hidden, we have one more for you: apricot seeds, also known as stones. As it turns out, they “contain cyanogenic glycosides, which are converted to hydrogen cyanide in the body when eaten.”

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Bata Food

Many people in Turkey—where apricot trees are particularly common—have died following the consumption of too many of these seeds.

2. Bean Sprouts

Speaking of salmonella and E. coli, did you know that bean sprouts are actually among the most common offenders of foods that contain these dangerous diseases? Oh, and don’t forget listeria, as all of these troubling diseases “thrive in the same warm, humid conditions that sprouts are grown in.”

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If that doesn’t give you a hankering for sprouts though, we don’t know what will, but thankfully, they’re usually a garnish more than a main meal.

1. Raw Milk

Do you remember all those lessons you had in middle or high school about Louis Pasteur and the eponymous pasteurization? Well, the milk in your fridge is almost certainly pasteurized—assuming that you purchased it at the grocery store, that is.

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Modern Farmer

For people who are getting their dairy from elsewhere though, it could very well be raw. Unpasteurized milk might sound fine, but “is far more likely to contain salmonella, E. coli and listeria,” so always be mindful.

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