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- Unexpected things in our kitchen or around us can be poisonous.
- These poisonous things can be something you eat, something you use, or something you find in nature.
- From potatoes to cherry pits, these things can be poisonous.
By definition, a poison is any substance that can cause harm or death to an organism. Not all poisons are as obvious as hemlock and cyanide pills – some toxic substances are actually hiding in plain sight.
Here are a few unexpected things that are actually poisonous.
Though it’s rare, overripe potatoes can kill you.
Potatoes that have languished on your counter for long enough to turn green are no longer safe to eat.
“Potatoes that have a greenish cast under the skin are mildly toxic. The green color comes from a substance called solanine, which naturally occurs in potatoes as they get older and begin to germinate,” registered dietitian Julie Cunningham told INSIDER.
Most people are able to tolerate solanine in smaller quantities, such as that contained in a serving or two of green potatoes. However, Cunningham warned that minor poisoning can result in stomachache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and occasionally, fever.
To avoid solanine poisoning, it’s important to discard any potatoes with a greenish cast. Consuming large amounts of solanine can be fatal.
It only takes a small number of raw kidney beans to poison someone.
Kidney beans are a pantry staple, but these beans are actually poisonous in their dry, raw form.
“Kidney beans, especially red kidney beans, contain toxins called lectins. As little as four or five raw red kidney beans can cause stomach ache, vomiting, and diarrhea. When dried beans are soaked for at least 12 hours and then boiled for at least 10 minutes, the lectins are destroyed,” explained Cunningham.
In a hurry? Because canned kidney beans have already been soaked and heated, they can be eaten right away.
Black licorice can cause your potassium levels to drop.
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When you dig into a package of black licorice, you’re actually snacking on small amounts of poison.
“Black licorice contains a compound called glycyrrhizin, which is derived from licorice root. Glycyrrhizin can cause a person’s potassium levels to drop,” said Cunningham.
However, moderate indulgence in black licorice is unlikely to leave you with any health problems.
“People over 40 or those who have heart disease or high blood pressure are more likely to have this problem, and it takes eating about two ounces per day for at least two weeks to see the effect. Once a person stops eating black licorice, the problems usually go away,” Cunningham clarified.
Every part of a daffodil is toxic.
- REUTERS/Luke MacGregor
Daffodils may look bright and cheerful, but consuming any part of this flowering plant can lead to poisoning.
Every part of a daffodil is toxic, including the petals, stalk, and bulb. Dogs and children are most at risk of daffodil poisoning, which can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and liver damage. However, adults have also been known to suffer daffodil poisoning after mistaking daffodil bulbs for wild onions.
Rice contains small amounts of arsenic.
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Surprisingly, rice actually contains trace amounts of arsenic.
“Arsenic is naturally found in soil and water, and it’s absorbed by rice and other fruits, vegetables, and grains during the growing process,” Cunningham explained.
Though the amount of arsenic contained in a serving of rice isn’t considered to be acutely toxic, the consumption of arsenic has the potential to increase the risk of some illnesses, including cancer.
Tomato leaves can make you seriously ill.
Tomatoes are juicy and flavorful fruits that contain plenty of beneficial vitamins and nutrients, but their leaves are poisonous to humans. They contain small amounts of solanine, which is a toxic alkaloid. Accidentally nibbling a small leaf or two in your tomato salad won’t hurt, but eating a large number of tomato leaves – for example, using them as greens in a salad – could be dangerous.
The leaves of rhubarb plants contain dangerous oxalic acid.
The ruby red flesh of rhubarb stalks is popular as a raw snack or addition to cooked dishes. However, the leafy green leaves of rhubarb are actually poisonous. They contain high levels of oxalic acid, which can cause kidney failure and death in humans. However, an adult would need to eat between 10 and 18 pounds of rhubarb leaves to be fatally poisoned.
Cherry pits are actually poisonous.
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Cherries are another common fruit that actually has poisonous pits. According to the Missouri Poison Center, cherry pits are high in cyanogenic glycoside. This compound can cause death if ingested in large doses. Though poisoning by cherry pit is extremely rare – you’d need to chew many pits to receive a fatal dose – it’s still a good idea to remove pits from the fruit before blending or chopping.
Bitter almonds need to be heat-treated before they’re safe to eat.
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Bitter almonds have an alluring scent, but eating them in their raw form can kill. These seeds contain cyanide in amounts that can be potentially lethal. Ingesting just 12 bitter almonds has been shown to provide a dose of cyanide large enough to kill an adult human.
But don’t worry, bitter almonds are not sold unprocessed in the US and are typically just used to make almond extracts.
Apple seeds contain deadly cyanide.
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Apple seeds contain amygdalin, which is a compound that produces cyanide. Though swallowing one or two whole apple seeds won’t kill you, ingesting large numbers can cause faintness, vomiting, kidney failure, coma, and death. Peach and plum pits also contain amygdalin.
Improperly made castor oil can kill you.
Castor oil is a pale yellow vegetable oil often used in soaps, inks, lubricants, paint, and perfume. It’s also sometimes used as a laxative or purgative. Castor oil is made from castor beans, which actually contain ricin. Ricin is a poison that can cause nausea, diarrhea, fast heart rate, seizures, and death.
Eating between five and 20 castor beans can kill a human adult, though the beans typically need to be chewed to produce a fatal effect. If proper safety procedures are not observed in the manufacture of castor oil, ingesting the oil could prove fatal.
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