My Kitchen Garden

10 Common Poisonous Foods We Love To Eat

Everyday we eat plant food that carry deadly poisons. Most of the time they are usually safe, but it may be fatal if wrong parts of a plant is consumed. From time to time people accidentally kill themselves by eating these foods.

You may be wondering what these poisonous or harmful foods are. Find a list of most common food in your kitchen which are deadly poisonous or harmful. You should be careful when consuming these poisons to ensure that you remain safe.

Most of these food contain a high level of cyanide, a poisonous chemical for humans as part of the plant's natural defenses against insects and diseases.

1. Fruit Seeds

Apple, Peach, Apricot, Plums, Nectarine, Cherries

Seeds of some fruits contain a substance called amygdalin, which is convertd in to cyanide when it comes into contact with acids in the human digestive system. Eating accidently a few seeds or pits will not harm, but consuming a high number will make you sick.

The seeds of the fruits containing cyanide are apple, peach, apricot, plums, nectarine, cherries, etc. The seeds of all of these fruits are not edible.The pits of apricot is similar to almond, but bitter in taste, so do not eat it.

While making apple juice, it is advisable to remove thee seeds.
Common Poisonous Foods -Picture of stone fruits. The seeds of Apple, Peach, Apricot, Plums, Nectarine, Cherries are poisonous.
Stone Fruits - Peach, Apricot, Plums, Nectarine

2. Almonds

We all love to eat almonds, they are very nutritious and healthy. But occassionally we get a bitter almond, which we hate to eat. The bitter almonds contain relatively large amounts of hydrogen cyanide as in apple and apricot. The level of cyanide in bitter almonds (4–9 mg of hydrogen cyanide per almond) is such that even eating just 8 - 10 raw bitter almonds may cause problems for adults, and could be fatal for children; and 20 bitter almonds are enough to kill an adult [1-3].

The bitter almonds must be heat-treated to remove poison before they are sold. The sale of raw bitter almonds is illegal in USA and New Zealand.
Common Poisonous Foods -Picture of almonds. the bitter almonds contain cyanide.

3. Potatoes

Potatoes have become the main vegetable of daily diet {How to grow potatoes in pots). But do you know that they can also become poisonous? However, the potato poisoning is rare, but it does happen from time to time. Potato plant contain poison in the stems, leaves and hoots, like tomatoes. Potato itself becomes dangerous if it turns green or of greenish tinge, the green is due to a high concentration of the glycoalkaloid poison. This poison can also build up in the potato if it is left too long in the light [4].

Potatoes naturally produce solanine glycoalkaloids as a defense mechanism against insects and sdisease [5].

The poisonous potatoes and the potatoes which taste bitter can lead to diarrhea, cramping, confused headaches, or even coma and death. You should avoid eating green potatoes or drinking potato leaf tea.
Common Poisonous Foods -Common Poisonous Foods - Picture of potatoes. Old potatoes and green potatoes may be poisonous.

4. Rhubarb

Rhubarb is a perennial vegetable and not a fruit. It is considered to be very healthy because it contains dietary fiber, protein, minerals, vitamin B,vitamin C, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, magnesium and manganese.

Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which causes kidney stones [6]. The level of oxalic acid in the stalks of rhubarb are is too low to cause any harm. But the rhubarb leaves can make you seriously ill if eaten excessively.

The signs and symptoms of Rhubarb leaves poisoning may include burning sensation in the mouth and throat, breathing difficulties, stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, damage to the cornea of the eye, coma.

Eating about 5 kg of rhubarb leaves would kill the person, but a small amount still has thecan make the person sick. Rhubarbmstems are safe to eat in small quantities.

Rhubarb Leaves Poisoning can be prevented by properly cooking rhubarb prior to consumption.
Picture of Rhubarb. Rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which causes kidney stones

5. Taro

Taro is a rich source of iron, magnesium, fiber, potassium, zinc, manganese, copper, phosphorus, vitamins A, B6, C and E, making it a healthy food.

Both the leaves and roots of the taro plant are edible, but you should not eat them raw. Raw taro contains both insoluble and soluble oxalates. Soluble oxalates are more readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract so they can contribute to kidney stones. The insoluble oxalates are safer. The calcium oxalate in raw taro will make your mouth feel numb [7].

Thoroughly cooking taro leaves and roots destroys the oxalate to make them edible [8].
Common Poisonous Foods -Taro Leaves and Roots. Raw taro contains oxalic acid.
Taro Leaves and Roots

6. Cassava

There are several health benefits of cassava plant, because its tubes, roots and leaves contain calories, carbohydrates, proteins, fat, iron, calcium, Vitamin B and C.

However, cassava is poisonous, the roots and leaves of cassava are rich in a toxin called linamarin which is converted into cyanide by the digestive system. They can be extremely toxic, if eaten raw. Just a few pieces of cassava roots can be fatal.

Symptoms of acute cyanide intoxication viz. vertigo, vomiting and collapse appear after four hours after ingesting raw cassava. It was reported that 20 children died in Philippines after eating cassava in 2005.[9]

The sweet cassava variety do not possess toxins, whereas the bitter variety are dangerous.
Picture of cassava. Cassava can be extremely toxic, if eaten raw

7. Bottle Gourd

Bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria ) offers many health benefits due to its richness in Vitamins C, Vitamin A, Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Folate; and minerals like calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus and zinc (Health benefits of bottlegourd juice).

But Bitter bottle gourd contains a substance called Tetracyclic Triterpenoid Cucurbitacins which can be poisonous and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, gastrointestinal bleeding and hypotension [ 10]. Extremely bitter bottle gourd can kill you due to multi-organ failure [11]. This compound is responsible for the bitterness in vegetables like cucumber, zucchini, pumpkin, etc.

One should avoid these vegetables in raw form if they taste bitter. However, you can consume the cooked ones. Drinking even 50 ml of bottle gourd juice may produce side effects, 200 ml may be fatal. The worse thningis that there is no known antidote for this poisoning.
Common Poisonous Foods -Picture of bottle gourds. Bitter bottle gourd can be poisonous.
Bottle Gourd

8. Lima Beans and Castor Beans

Lima beans, also known as butter beans contain linamarin, a compound that decomposes into hydrogen cyanide, when consumed. Eating raw lima beans can be lethal. The lima beans should be cooked thoroughly, donot use the cooking water.

The castor oil is not harmful, but the castor beans, when chewed and swallowed release ricin, one of the most toxic poisons. The ricin has been employed by secret agents and assassins. Eating just one or two castor beans can easily cause the death.
Common Poisonous Foods -Picture of Lima Beans and Castor Beans are poisonous when eaten raw.
Lima Beans and Castor Beans are Poisonous When Eaten Raw.

9. Mushrooms

We love to eat mushrooms and they are very healthy too. But many varieties of mushroom like Boletus piperatus (pepper bolete), Chlorophyllum molybdites (green gill) and Agaricus arvensis (horse mushroom) contain toxins that can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, but usually short-term damage [12]. The toxins are produced by the fungus. The signs of a poisonous mushroom are a flat cap with no bumps, pink or black gills attached to the cap (not the stalk). Howevedr, these signs of poisonous mushroom are not consistent, so all mushrooms of unknown origin should be considered dangerous to eat.
Common Poisonous Foods -Picture of mushrooms..Many varieties of mushroom are toxic.


Nutmeg is the spice made from the seed of nutmeg (Myristica fragrans) tree. It is used to flavour many kinds of baked goods, confections, puddings, sweets, potatoes, etc.

Nutmeg contains myristicin and elemicin which can induce convulsions, palpitations, nausea and generalized body pain [13]. Nutmeg is actually a hallucinogenic, eating only 5 g (0.2 oz) of nutmeg could lead to convulsions. In large doses, raw nutmeg has psychoactive effects. That is why the spice mixtures contain less than 20 % nutmeg.
Common Poisonous Foods -Picture of Nutmeg powder and whole. Nutmeg can induce convulsions, palpitations, nausea

11. Raw Honey

Because it doesn't go through the pasteurization process in which harmful toxins are killed, unpasteurized honey often contains grayanotoxin. That can lead to dizziness, weakness, excessive sweating, nausea, and vomiting that last for 24 hours. Typically just one tablespoon of concentrated grayanotoxin can cause the symptoms above. Consuming multiple tablespoons would be a bad idea.

Raw honey can poison us. Raw unpasteurized honey may contain grayanotoxin, which can cause food poisoning resulting in nausea, dizziness, stomach cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, weakness and fever.

The honey can be toxic to human depending on from where bees obtain their nectar. The honey has been reported to contain morphine in areas where opium poppy cultivated [14 ].
Common Poisonous Foods -Picture of Honey. Raw honey can be poisonous.


1. Almond - Wikipedia
2. Sánchez-Pérez R, Belmonte FS, Borch J, Dicenta F, Møller BL, Jørgensen K (April 2012). Prunasin hydrolases during fruit development in sweet and bitter almonds. Plant Physiology. 158 (4): 1916–32.
3. Shragg TA, Albertson TE, Fisher CJ (January 1982). Cyanide poisoning after bitter almond ingestion. West. J. Med. 136 (1): 65–9.
4. Friedman, Mendel; McDonald, Gary M. (1999). Postharvest Changes in Glycoalkaloid Content of Potatoes. In Jackson, Lauren S.; Knize, Mark G.; Morgan, Jeffrey N. Impact of Processing on Food Safety. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 459. pp. 121–43.
5. Solanine - Wikipedia
6. Robb, H. F. (1919). "Death from rhubarb leaves due to oxalic acid poisoning". J. Am. Med. Assoc. 73: 627–628.
7. Noonan SC, Savage GP. 1999. Oxalate Content of Foods and Effect on Humans. Asia Pac. J. Clin. Nutr 8(1): 64-74 Crossref, Medline, Google Scholar.
8. Two cases of poisoning by raw taro leaf and how a poison control centre, food safety inspectors, and a specialty supermarket chain found a solution John D. Omura, Christopher Blake, Lorraine McIntyre, Dorothy Li, Tom Kosatsky, Environmental Health Review, 2014, 57(03): 59-64
9. 27 children die after eating cassava at Philippine school- China Daily
10. A Sukhlecha, Bitter bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria): Healer or killer? Int J Nutr Pharmacol Neurol Dis 2012;2:276-7, S. K. Sharma, et al., Assessment of effects on health due to consumption of bitter bottle gourd (Lagenaria siceraria) juice, Indian J Med Res. 2012 Jan; 135(1): 49–55.
11. Jolt to Baba’s bottle of juice - If it tastes bitter, don’t touch it, The telegraph, Wednesday , October 26 , 2011.
12. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) (June 4, 1982). "Mushroom Poisoning among Laotian Refugees – 1981". MMWR. USA: CDC. 31 (21): 287–8. PMID 6808348. Retrieved 2008-08-04. Mushroom poisoning
13. Demetriades, A. K.; Wallman, P. D.; McGuiness, A.; Gavalas, M. C. (2005). Low Cost, High Risk: Accidental Nutmeg Intoxication (pdf). Emergency Medicine Journal. 22 (3): 223–225.
14. Alistair McAlpine (2002). Adventures of a Collector. Allen &