4 "Healthy" Foods That Can Kill You

March 21, 2014
by Michael Barber
4 "Healthy" Foods That Can Kill You

We’re told we should enjoy everything in moderation, but surely that rule doesn’t apply to healthy food, right? Yes it does! Too much of a good thing won’t fast track your health goals. In fact, if you’re eating too much of these foods they might even kill you.

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1. Brown Rice Contains Arsenic

Doctors encourage us to choose brown rice because it contains more fiber, minerals, and B vitamins than white alternatives. However, it also contains arsenic at much higher levels than jasmine, basmati, and other white varieties.

You’d need to eat around 1,800 cups of rice in one sitting to poison yourself, but don’t breathe easy yet. Consistent exposure to low levels of arsenic can also cause heart disease and bladder cancer. Include brown rice sparingly in your diet to avoid these problems.

Related: The Fat Free Fad and 5 Foods That Aren’t as Healthy as You Think

2. Grilled Foods Cause Cancer

As meats and fish grill, the fats drip away so there are less on your plate. Grilling cuts the calories compared to many cooking methods, including frying and baking. But take grilling too far, and your barbecued foods could become death traps. The blackened, charred bits so many diners love actually contain carcinogens, which can damage DNA and cause cancer.

Reduce the risks by grilling your food for longer at lower temperatures. Smaller pieces also cook faster so they need less time on the grill. Removing the skins from chicken and fish also helps cut the cancer risks and reduces calories. 

3. Red Kidney Beans are Toxic

Red kidney beans contain the toxin phytohaemagglutinin, which can cause severe nausea, vomiting, and even death. There haven’t been any reported human cases of death by beans, but it took just two weeks for lab rats to keel over after consuming a diet of just one percent raw kidney beans.

Red kidney beans are high in fiber, iron, and protein though, so they’re a good inclusion in any diet. You just need to prepare them well. Make sure you boil them for at least 10 minutes before consumption. Cook them at any less than boiling and the toxicity multiplies, so raw beans should never be tossed in your slow cooker.

4. Nutmeg is Poisonous

Nutmeg has a host of health benefits, including its ability to detox the liver and kidneys and its natural sedative powers which promote sleep. But if you don’t go easy when you’re grating it over your macaroni gratin or eggnog, you might get myristicin poisoning.

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This poisoning comes from the compound called myristicin, which is potent in nutmeg. Two grams of the stuff can bring on fever, headaches, and nausea. Ingesting 7.5 grams can cause palpitations, convulsions, and extreme pain. Eat a whole nutmeg and you might get “nutmeg psychosis,” characterized by extreme tiredness and severe dehydration.

Nutmeg-induced deaths are uncommon, but they have happened. An 8 year-old died 24-hours after eating 2 nutmegs, and a 55 year-old woman also passed away after combining a large amount of nutmeg with a muscle relaxant. 

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Remember that no matter what you’re eating, moderation is key. When it comes to these potentially deadly foods, you can have too much of a good thing.