19/02/2013 12:32 GMT | Updated 21/04/2013 06:12 BST

Five Surprisingly Toxic Foods

While most people know that cakes and chocolate aren't great for your health, there are other seemingly healthy foods whose dangerous properties slip under the radar. While it is unlikely moderate amounts of these foods will harm you, in large quantities - or in certain conditions - they may do more damage to your health than you think. Here are some of the most toxic common foods.



While mushrooms available in supermarkets are pretty safe to eat, mushroom fans need to be careful about what species' they are consuming as many varieties can be highly dangerous and even fatal. Around 100 species of mushrooms are said to be dangerous to humans, with symptoms ranging from headaches to seizures or even death. In 2010 a small variety of mushroom called the Little White was blamed for an estimated 400 deaths in China.


It is impossible to dispute that rice has many great health benefits. However, like with most things, it may be best eaten in moderation due to its reportedly unsafe levels of arsenic. One study has suggested that rice contains about 10 times more arsenic than other crops and this is often higher in rice from Bangladesh, India, China and the USA. Studies have also reported concern for the levels of arsenic in rice milk and baby rice. While there is relatively little risk of the odd bowl of rice causing any long lasting harm, the consumption of high levels of arsenic has been linked to cancer.


Perhaps one of the most immediately dangerous foods on this list is also one of the most surprising, and that is the common store cupboard spice, nutmeg. Although, like many of the foods on the list, nutmeg does have reported health benefits, it can also be extremely dangerous when taken in large doses. Containing a toxic substance called myristicin, moderate proportions of nutmeg can cause hallucinations, while larger doses can cause side effects including convulsions, palpitations, nausea, dehydration and death.

Farmed Salmon

We may be constantly urged to eat more oily fish, but research has suggested that consuming farmed salmon may not be the best way to do it. A study found that 13 different toxins - including PCBs, which have been classed as a probable human carcinogen by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - are at much higher levels in farm-raised salmon than in wild salmon.


Potatoes may look innocent enough, but studies show they contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids, which affect the nervous and digestive systems, causing headaches, weakness, confusion, diarrhoea and vomiting amongst other things. Poisoning from potatoes occurs very rarely but fans of the popular vegetable should take measures to protect themselves by avoiding potatoes with sprouts - which tend to have a higher concentration of glycoalkaloids - and those which have turned green.

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