Some (deadly) food for thought!
If left unwashed and uncooked, the ‘bitter’ varietal of almonds contains substances which break down into a potentially deadly form of cyanide. But fear not, the same isn’t true of the more common ‘sweet’ variety, which- far from causing fatal harm- is guilty only of being a deliciously more-ish nut.
The fish famous for almost killing Homer Simpson is one of the deadliest dining experiences one can divulge in. Chefs must train for 2-3 years to gain their licence to prepare and serve fugu and even then one mis-cut can spell disaster, as the fish contains large quantities of the highly lethal neurotoxin Tetrodotoxin.
Helpful food additive, medicinal marvel and key component in the manufacturing of soaps, perfumes, paints and lubricants, castor oil is also responsible for the deadly toxic protein ricin, which comes from the castor oil plant. As few as 1.78 milligrams of ricin is enough to kill an adult human, a useful titbit of knowledge one Walter ‘Heisenberg’ White has been known to use to his advantage.
Though most of the ‘tater toxins come in its stem and leaves, the potato itself can become poisonous if left to turn green (this is apparently due to a high concentration of the glycoalkaloid poison). Actual poisoning is rare, but be sure to consult a doctor if you are suffering from actute weakness, dizziness, or if you feel yourself submitting to a coma…
The poisonous alkaloids tomatine and solanine can be found in the leaves, stems, and green unripe fruit of the tomato plant. Furthermore, use of tomato leaves in herbal tea has been found to be responsible for at least one human death.
Experiencing a jippy tummy after a dodgy chilli? It may not be the Mexican spice that’s wreaking havoc with your insides. Raw or inadequately cooked kidney beans can cause food poisoning in humans, due to their extremely high haemagglutinin levels. This toxin can only be removed by prolongued soaking and cooking, something good to remember next time you think about inviting your amigos over for dinner.
While myristicin, the chemical in nutmeg, is a psychoactive neurotoxin which can cause vomiting, dizziness and hallucinations. Nutmeg-related deaths are extremely rare, though an eight year old child and a 55 year old adult are reported to have been fatally poisoned by the spice in the past.
There is a reason that the rhubarb you can buy in your local Fruit & Veg comes without the leaves; rhubarb leaves contain dangerously high levels of oxalic acid which can cause serious kidney damage, potentially leading to death.