Almost everybody on the planet loves some good food. However, it can be quite difficult to know which food is good for you and which really isn’t. We all know things like hamburgers, chips and sweets aren’t the healthiest, but sometimes foods can be unhealthy without you even knowing.
Even some vegetables can be bad for you if they are prepared the wrong way! On the next pages we will list 9 such examples of foods that seem healthy but really aren’t. Read on quickly!
1. Raw Green Beans
These colourful and tasty beans can be really healthy if you prepare them right. However, green beans are one of very few vegetables that you really shouldn’t eat raw. This is because of a toxic protein compound called phasin, which can be found in raw green beans. It can cause your red blood cells to stick together, which hinders the transport of oxygen through your blood.
This can cause headaches, diarrhoea and nausea. Especially children are at risk, as five or six raw green beans can be enough for them to experience the aforementioned effects. Cook the beans for at least 10 minutes to minimise the risk.
2. Bitter Almonds
Almonds are a well-loved and usually very healthy snack. However, they can also be considered one of the most dangerous ones. In this case, we’re talking about bitter almonds, which in terms of appearance are hard to tell apart from sweet almonds.
These almonds contain a substance called amygdaloid, which gets turned into toxic cyanides when processed by the body. Children are especially at risk when it comes to these bitter nuts, as even a low dose of 5 to 10 almonds can have life-threatening effects.
Nutmeg is often used as a spice, but can also be dangerous if it’s consumed in large amounts. When you eat 5 grams of nutmeg, it has an intoxicating effect. Even larger portions can also be toxic. It’s no coincidence that nutmeg was used as a drug in the 1960’s.
A substance called myristicin is responsible for these effects. When processed by the liver, it transforms into amphetamine and can therefore cause hallucinations. However, you shouldn’t worry too much, as nutmeg is hard to overdose with normal use.
The blowfish is one of the most fascinating animals in the sea, as it has the unique feature of pumping itself up into a round ball whenever it’s in danger. At the same time, it’s one of the most toxic animals in the world, thanks a toxin called tetrodotoxin. This toxic substance is found mostly in the skin and liver of the blowfish and damages your nervous system.
Consuming this substance can be deadly, as it can lead to paralysis of multiple parts of your body, even your respiratory muscles. The only part that can be eaten without danger is the muscle meat. This meat is considered a delicacy in Japan and only cooks who have followed a special education are allowed to prepare it.
When picking mushrooms, caution is obviously always required. A lot of mushrooms can be poisonous. Most well-known is the fly agaric mushroom, which, thanks to its notoriety, is a mushroom people nowadays rarely get poisoned by.
However, other toxic examples do exist and some of them look exactly like other, edible mushrooms. For instance, the green amanita, which is known to be toxic and can be very dangerous, looks a lot like a field mushroom.
The ackee originates from Western Africa, but nowadays is harvested in tropical areas all around the world, as well as being the national fruit of Jamaica. Its taste and nutritional values somewhat resemble those of an avocado. One of the more popular dishes in Jamaica consists of dried, salted codfish and ackee and is called ‘saltfish and akee’.
However, it is advised to be careful when eating this fruit. Only the seed sac, where the flesh of the fruit is located, can be eaten and only when the fruit is ripe. If it’s ripe, the fruit will have opened itself without anybody having to force it open. Ackee’s that are not ripe or too ripe can be dangerous because of a toxic amino acid. Consuming this amino acid can lead to vomiting and hypoglycaemia.
7. Raw Octopus
The mere thought of eating a raw, partly alive octopus is enough to send shivers down the spines of many people. In Korea and Japan, this dish called ‘San Nak Ji’ is a true and very beloved delicacy. The octopus is cut in many pieces before being eaten, but it lives on for a couple of minutes even after being cut up.
Therefore, a good sign of quality of this dish is if the animal is still moving when it’s served. But eating this meal can also be dangerous. When swallowing, the tentacles may seep into the throat due to twitching, causing suffocation. It is therefore helpful to chew the tentacles for a very long time. Furthermore, a chili sauce is usually enough to stun the tentacles.
Cassava has been a staple in the food culture of South-America for the longest time, but has significantly grown in popularity internationally over the last couple of years. It’s very easy to grow and is often used as a substitute for potatoes, partly due to its taste, which is described as ‘fruitier and sweeter’ than potatoes.
It is important to know, however, that cassava should never be consumed in the raw state, as it may cause health risks. Like bitter almonds, manioc also contains hydrocyanic acid and is therefore toxic when it’s raw. Only when it’s cooked, fried, fermented or baked, the hydrogen cyanide is destroyed, the vegetables become nontoxic and as such consumable without any risks.
9. Green Potatoes
Potatoes are normally a very healthy food, so it’s usually a great idea to add these to your diet. However, they can be bad for you if you store them the wrong way. When potatoes aren’t stored in a dark and dry place, they can turn green. And when that happens, it’s advisable not to eat them anymore.
These green potatoes contain an increased amount of a toxin called solanin. This can cause a burning feeling in the neck, headaches, diarrhoea and vomiting. Usually, the dose in potatoes is very minimal, so the risk of this happening is low. Still, it’s best to not take any risk and store your potatoes appropriately.