Gulp! 8 Common Fruits, Nuts & Veggies That Could Kill You

Fresh fruits & veggies are part and parcel of a healthy lifestyle, right? Right… though deadly danger lurks within these 8 delicious everyday foods.


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Bananas are naturally rich in the element potassium, which is good. A very small fraction of the potassium is in the form of its unstable radioactive isotope, potassium-40, which is bad. Does this mean eating bananas is a health hazard? Yes and no… you’d have to chow down on a truckload of bananas to incur any radiation damage, and eating a truckload of bananas at a single sitting can bring about other, more immediate deleterious repercussions to the eater’s good health.

(image via: Free Republic)

That’s not to say a truckload of bananas isn’t radioactive compared to, say, a truckload of pork bellies. The difference is, the former can and often does set off radiation alarms at border crossings equipped with Radiation Portal Monitors used to detect smuggled nuclear material. Let’s hope any nuclear material smugglers don’t try secreting their goods in truckloads of bananas.


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Almonds (Prunus dulcis) are seeds, not nuts, and have enhanced the human diet for thousands of years. There are two varieties of almonds: sweet (var. dulcis) and bitter (var. amara). Only sweet almonds are sold commercially in the United States though some health food stores may sell the bitter variety… this seems an oxymoron as bitter almonds can be very UN-healthy! When processed, bitter almonds yield from 4 to 9 mg of hydrogen cyanide (prussic acid) per almond.

(image via: Fantastic Fiction)

Best-selling author Gregg Olsen’s book Bitter Almonds: The True Story of Mothers, Daughters and the Seattle Cyanide Murders, describes the case of Stella Nickell, currently serving a 90-year prison sentence for product tampering. Nickell allegedly poisoned Excedrin capsules with lethal cyanide, causing the deaths of two people including her husband. The book’s title refers to the distinctive “bitter almond” odor of cyanide, detected by pathologists during an autopsy on one of the victims. The so-called Snow-Nickell Cyanide Murders sparked a nationwide product recall and widespread hysteria in the summer of 1986.

Castor Oil

(images via: Bill Casselman and NPR)

The Castor Oil Plant’s scientific name is Ricinus communis, which may lead some to assume it’s a common source of the deadly toxin Ricin… and in that they would be correct! The toxin is mainly found in the “beans” (actually seeds) of the plant. The seeds contain between 40% and 60% Castor Oil, a time-tested though terrible-tasting beneficial oil beloved by old-fashioned grannies.

(image via: Inspiring Travellers)

According to the Guinness World Records (2007 edition), the Castor Oil Plant plant is the most poisonous plant on the planet… and it’s also a lovely ornamental shrub that was prominently featured in Toronto gardens a century ago. Although cold-pressed Castor Oil is harmless, the ricin contained in four to eight seeds is enough to kill an adult human.