15 Poisonous Foods That Many People Consume

Some foods that are beloved around the world for their bursting flavor or nutritious properties can also be highly dangerous. The commonness of these foods can sometimes downplay their hazardous effects. We’re talking about grapes, strawberries, spinach, and many others. 

Strawberries are at the top of the “dirty dozen” list, and grapes are sprayed with 15 pesticides on average. While soaking your produce in saltwater can help wash off pesticides, there are other foods like pufferfish that need to be carefully prepared because they’re naturally poisonous. 

There are other foods, such as lettuce, spinach, and other greens that are usually known for their antioxidants but are sprayed with pesticides. Allergy-inducing foods such as peanuts are also a common threat. Explore our list to find out how to stay safe with your food. 

Grapes

Woman with fruits and vegetables

While you might be surprised and even a little perplexed to find something as commonly consumed as grapes on the list, it’s true. Grapes can indeed be highly poisonous.

About 50% of grapes are used for wine production, and during their production in the field’s grapes are sprayed with a variety of pesticides. 

These pesticide products include fenhexamid, boscalid, dimethomorph, iprovalicarb, penconazole (fungicides) or methoxyfenozide, and imidacloprid (insecticides), and they are all approved by the European Union.

However, the residue of these pesticides continues to reside in grapes and can also make it to wines. This is where the health concerns come from.

Grapes by themselves are sprayed with about 15 pesticides. Therefore, you need to be careful before consuming them, especially in large quantities. It’s best to always clean them under running water before consumption. 

Apples

Apples are some of the most popularly consumed fruits around the world. However, as delicious, and nutritious an apple might be, it comes with its very own sets of pesticides. The problem mainly lies in the apple skin, which is full of pesticides. 

While it is true that apple skin can have a higher nutritional value than its flesh, the pesticides make it dangerous to consume. Apple skins have been tested for large concentrations of pesticides and other toxic chemicals. 

Further studies have also shown that the fungicide thiabendazole can indeed penetrate apple skins as well. Therefore, you should be extra careful when picking your apples and checking where they come from. 

To avoid these chemicals, it’s better to eat apples with the skin peeled off. If for some reason you cannot, then you should thoroughly clean it. While washing will still not give you 100% pesticide or chemical-free apple skin, it’s a step in the right direction. 

Celery

Celery is another example of healthy food with numerous nutritious advantages. However, celery is also a victim of the harmful chemicals and pesticides that are sprayed on many foods. 

In fact, celery was ranked as the world’s dirtiest vegetable by Yahoo!. Celery contains an incredible 64 chemicals and pesticides which are very difficult to wash away, and they even lurk among the roots.

These 64 pesticide residues were also confirmed by a USDA data program.

These chemicals contain 10 known or probable carcinogens, 27 suspected hormone disruptors, and 12 that have developmental or reproductive toxins.

Pesticides such as Chlorantraniliprole and Spinosad are found 100% of the time in celery. 

In further government tests, an astonishing 95% of vegetables were found to have tested positive for pesticides. Among which, about 85% contained several different chemicals. 

Soaking celery in salt water for about 20 minutes can get rid of most pesticide residue. Along with cleaning it with baking soda or vinegar will also help. 

Peaches

It’s rather unfortunate to find the sweet, juicy, and delicious peach on the list of foods that can potentially harm you. However, over 90% of peaches have at least 2 pesticides.

An even larger percentage have at least 1 pesticide. At least 98% of peaches have at least one. These pesticides all have different, harmful effects on the body, and scientists are still learning about those effects. 

A study showed that the pesticides in produce lead to lower rates of fertility. On average, a peach’s exterior can have about 62 kinds of poisonous chemicals. 

This, however, does not mean that you should stop eating peaches. Holding the fruit under running water removes harmful chemicals and pesticides. Rubbing the peaches while running them under tap water can remove even more of them. 

Lettuce 

Yet another staple of a healthy diet, lettuce is in the list of foods that can harm you due to the E. coli outbreaks it’s been linked to as well as the chemicals and pesticides. 

Lettuce is a good source of numerous dietary fibers, magnesium, potassium, biotin, vitamin B1, copper, iron, and a range of other vitamins.

However, according to the CDC, recently 58 people have gotten E. coli in the US and Canada alone and 1 person has even died. Lettuce has been linked to these cases. 

In Canada, lettuce was declared to be the main source of E. coli by the Public Health Agency. To reduce E. coli health risks, cooking lettuce is an option that works. 

However, for the time being, it’s best to avoid eating lettuce raw. E. coli can cause vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pains, and cramps. It can get even worse, causing kidney failure.

It’s advisable to find other greens for now, and if you must eat lettuce, it’s better to have it cooked. 

Raspberries and Blueberries

Macro shot of fresh raspberries, blueberries and blackberries with leaf isolated on white background

Raspberries are quite heavily covered with pesticides. Raspberries can even top strawberries when it comes to additives, with more than 39 chemicals. A staggering 58% of raspberries have been positively registered for contamination. 

The berries don’t end there, as blueberries are also heavily dosed with harmful pesticides and chemicals. Blueberries have been tested for 42 different kinds of pesticide residues.

73% of the blueberries tested had 2 or more pesticides on them.

Blueberries can even cause numerous different types of cancers. These include leukemia and brain, bone, breast, ovarian, prostate, and liver cancers.

These are all due to the non-organic and chemical fertilizers used on blueberries. 

If you’re planning on conceiving or are already pregnant, it may be best to steer clear of blueberries. Numerous pesticides found in blueberries have been found to have reproductive and development issues in both men and women. 

Spinach

Among all the other foods on this list, spinach can cause some seriously bad health problems for you. This is because of the insects that tend to be found on spinach. 

Spinach can have cutworms and wireworms. Cutworms tend to cut young seedlings off from ground levels whereas the wireworms tend to feed on foliage and the roots.

These are treated using Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and Spinosad sprays. 

That’s not all. Spinach also has flea beetles, which feed on young foliage, leaving damaged spinach with holes. Slugs and snails can also be found feasting on spinach. They leave behind holes and slime. 

Pests such as aphids are also present in spinach, and they are the most common kinds of pests found. To counter these and the viruses that spread in spinach, pesticides are often used. 

Strawberries

The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit research organization that published a list of the “dirtiest” produce with the highest amounts of chemical and pesticide residue.

According to their results and testing is done by the US Department of Agriculture and the Food and Drug Administration, strawberries are number 2 on the list of dirty produce 

Other than topping the dirty list, they also have the highest amounts of pesticide contamination in produce. When checked, strawberries contained at least 20 pesticides. 

It’s recommended to avoid these pesticides as much as possible, especially for babies since pesticides can cause damage to their brains. 

A study conducted in 2020 found that an increase in IQ loss was noted along with loss in intellectual ability in children all due to a common pesticide called organophosphates. 

While washing the strawberries will not completely rid you of the pesticides, it can help to keep them in saltwater or running tap water. 

Cherries

While cherries are on the same list of foods that could harm you, it’s not here due to pesticides but it’s stoned.

Indeed, the cherry stones contain around 0.17 grams of cyanide. To put it into perspective, just 0.17 grams of cyanide can kill a person weighing up to 150 pounds. 

This means that ingesting anywhere from one or two cherry stones can kill you.

Therefore, while other foods on the list may potentially harm you, cherries can be extremely dangerous due to the cyanide in them, and you should be extremely careful when eating them. 

When coming to pesticides, cherries have at least one pesticide and about 98% of them have these pesticides. These pesticides are linked to lowering fertility rates. While more research is still on the way, why take the risk? 

If you want to clean cherries, using white vinegar is a good solution which will help. Filling up a bowl with white vinegar and submerging the cherries in it for 15 minutes should make a difference. 

 Ackee

Ackee is another fruit that can prove to be extremely dangerous for you, to the point it can even be fatal. The idea is to always consume ackee once it’s fully ripe.

If you tend to eat it before it’s fully ripe it can cause vomiting and, in some cases, even death. 

Ackee contains poisonous chemicals which can prove to be fatal for the human body. In some cases, even cooked ackee can be dangerous or fatal to consume, the water that ackee is cooked in can also be dangerous since it was cooked in it.

The poisonous elements that it produces can be especially harmful to the liver. 

Along with that, an unripe ackee can also cause extremely low blood sugar, convulsions, and death. There were 2 deaths related to ackee in 2012 and another 3 in 2013. 

With that said, the fruit is packed with nutrients that include vitamin A, zinc, and protein.

However, given its health risks, it’s best to avoid this fruit unless you really know what you’re getting yourself into. Due to the health risks associated with ackee, it’s banned in the US. 

Peanuts

As delicious as peanuts can be, they can also tend to be pretty unhealthy and even toxic for many people. Peanuts are highly allergenic, and peanut allergy is the fastest-growing food allergy in the US.

If peanuts are consumed by anyone with a peanut allergy it can result in anaphylaxis and even prove to be fatal within minutes. 

Other than the fast-growing peanut allergy, peanut consumption can also cause cirrhosis, hepatitis B, and may lead to the development of carcinoma of the liver. Therefore, peanut consumption needs to be careful and moderate. 

As a matter of fact, peanuts aren’t nuts either, they’re actually legumes and therefore raw peanuts can be the safest to eat.

With that said, they can be contaminated with a mold called Aspergillus flavus which tends to create a chemical called aflatoxin which can be a carcinogen. 

Lima Beans 

While lima beans are not high in pesticides, they should never be consumed raw. Eating raw lima beans can actually be lethal.

Raw lima beans contain a compound known as linamarin; this compound turns into cyanide when consumed. Which makes them extremely dangerous, and it’s crucial to keep them away from children.

This also means paying extra attention to their cooking process and making sure they’re fully cooked. 

They contain about 100-170 mg/kg, which is extremely high, however, this content becomes even higher, to rather frightening levels in raw wild lima beans, about 3,000-4,000 mg/kg, these are found in Costa Rica, Mexico, and Nigeria. 

To reduce these health hazards, as recommended by Oregon State University you should cook them in a large bowl of water, for about 30 minutes.

This should help remove about 80% of their original cyanide. Boiling them before cooking for about 10 minutes can also help. 

Tomatoes 

To start off with, tomatoes contain glycoalkaloid in their leaves, which if consumed without moderation can result in death. Other than that, consuming them can also cause anxiety and an upset stomach.

However, the concern regarding tomatoes and their consumption doesn’t end there. Tomatoes are also packed with alkaloids and solanine.

According to studies, it’s found that an excessive intake of tomatoes can result in swelling and pain. This mostly occurs in the joints, which makes sense because they are full of alkaloids and solanine. 

Excess consumption of tomatoes will also lead to acid reflux. The acidic nature of tomatoes leads to this. It can also cause heartburn, gastric and other kinds of digestive stress.

Steer clear of excess consumption especially if you have digestive problems.

Kidney diseases are another issue linked closely with tomatoes. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, people with any kind of advanced chronic kidney disease should limit their intake of potassium.

This raises a concern because tomatoes are rich in oxalate which leads to kidney problems.  

Puffer Fish 

Pufferfish is the kind of food that you need to get exactly right, otherwise, it can be lethal. The liver of this fish contains an extremely high concentration of deadly poison known as tetrodotoxin (TTX); this can cause paralysis if ingested. 

As of now, pufferfish consumption is the main cause of tetrodotoxin food poisoning. Apart from the liver, tetrodotoxin can also be found in the eggs and skin of the fish.

But that’s not all, during the cleaning or cutting process, other parts of the fish can easily be contaminated by the tetrodotoxin. This makes the entire fish extremely hazardous to consume. 

Tetrodotoxin can cause paralysis by affecting a person’s nervous system and in some cases, it can result in death. If you think high-heat cooking can solve this problem, like in most food cases, you’d be wrong.

As it turns out, this toxin is also head-stable and what that means is that it can withstand high temperatures without being destroyed. 

With absolutely no antidote available to date, the only way to prevent this rather dangerous kind of food poisoning is for the importing authorities to regulate it and make sure it’s safe for consumption. The US, however, has banned it. 

Rhubarb Leaves

Last, but certainly not least, rhubarb Leaves can also pose a serious set of health risks but only if consumed in excess.

Their high concentration of oxalic acid can lead to a condition known as hyperoxaluria and an accumulation of calcium oxalate crystals in the organs. 

Rhubarb, however, contains 570–1,900 mg of oxalate per 3.5 ounces (100 grams), most of the oxalate however is found in the leaves, which is about 0.5–1.0% of the leaf.

Oxalic acid is a natural substance, it can be found in numerous plants, vegetables, fruits, seeds nuts, and more. 

Keeping your consumption to a minimum and you should be fine, however excessive consumption can lead to numerous issues.

You may end up with mild rhubarb poisoning, symptoms for which include vomiting; however it should end in a few hours. 

A more serious kind of poisoning can cause sore throat, problems in swallowing, nausea, more vomiting, abdominal pain, and more. 

Many foods on the list, especially those which have been sprayed with pesticides can be cleaned by soaking in saltwater or running under tap water.

However, there are other foods such as pufferfish, and cherry seeds that simply need to be avoided in order to stay away from their harmful effects. 

It’s important to read up about the kinds of food and their intake, especially if you’re planning on consuming any of them in excess. 

Leave a Comment

1