Everyday Foods That Naturally Include Traces of Deadly Poisons and Toxins

You may think you’re careful when it comes to what you eat. But there are some everyday foods out there that don’t come with a warning label printed on them. And the toxins that these hazardous foods possess can put your health — and even your life — at risk. Here are the hidden dangers in some everyday foods.

Cyanide in lima beans

Lima beans on a white plate.

What could be hidden in your lima beans? | Eduardo1961/iStock/Getty Images

Sure, adding some canned lima beans to your salad may seem like a healthy choice. But beware of the raw variety, which can make you violently sick. Raw lima beans contain limarin, a toxic chemical that decomposes inside the body into cyanide. To prevent poisoning, cook lima beans for at least 10 minutes.

Hallucinogen in nutmeg

A nutmeg and grater on white background.

A little bit of nutmeg is okay. | iStock.com

A little grated nutmeg atop your pumpkin spice latte? No harm in that. But consuming large quantities of nutmeg can make you very sick. Nutmeg contains myristicin, which if consumed in large amounts, causes hallucinogenic episodes that can last for a couple of days. Heart and nerve problems can also occur in severe situations.

Botulism spores in honey

Honey in a clear bowl on a wooden table.

Honey isn’t always sweet and innocent. | iStock.com

If you are a fan of sweet things, you probably have honey in your kitchen. And while raw honey has certainly been hailed as a wonder food, it can also be incredibly dangerous. Raw, unpasteurized honey contains Clostridium botulinum spores, which are incredibly dangerous for infants. While honey has to pass strict food regulations before it can be sold, you should still be careful when choosing your honey.

Lectin in red kidney beans

Red bean on wooden table and wooden bowl.

Never eat raw beans. | Piyaset/iStock/Getty Images

You’re probably wondering how it’s possible for the main component in red beans and rice to be dangerous. That’s because the beans are always cooked. Uncooked red beans, on the other hand, contain high levels of a toxin called phytohaemagglutinin, or kidney bean lectin. It only takes eating a couple uncooked beans before the toxin makes you violently sick, complete with nausea and vomiting.

Cyanide in almonds

Raw almonds spilling out of a bowl.

This healthy snack contains a small amount of cyanide. | Elenathewise/iStock/Getty Images

Before you chuck that bag of almonds out your kitchen window, keep in mind that the sweet almonds you buy at the grocery store are probably totally safe. They contain a tiny bit of cyanide, but not enough to do any damage. Wild bitter almonds, on the other hand, contain 50 times the level of cyanide that domestic almonds possess. Eating enough bitter almonds can be fatal.

Acid in rhubarb

Fresh cut rhubarb laying on a table.

Who knew rhubarb leaves could be so dangerous? | Jamais_vu/iStock/Getty images

Rhubarb stalk — the part that gets baked into pies — is obviously safe to eat. But rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which is poisonous. This toxin can eat at your stomach lining, give you kidney stones, and cause seizures, among many other terrifying side effects.

Cyanide in cherries

Cherries laid out on a wooden table.

Keep your family away from the cherry pits. | Timmary/iStock/Getty Images

You probably aren’t eating the pit of a cherry, or of any other stone fruit for that matter. Which is good, considering that cherry pits contain cyanide. Fortunately, you’ll be fine if you accidentally eat one pit.