Oh, the holidays. A time for fun, family and potential cyanide poisoning. I know that last one isn’t a common item on people’s list of things to think about when preparing for Christmas, but maybe it should. Many of the foods that are commonly used in holiday dishes are surprisingly dangerous.
We’ve listed the seven most serious offenders so you can be on the lookout at your Christmas dinner.
With his nose like a cherry, Santa sounds like he’s as much of a fan of the ruby fruit as we are. We’ll put cherries in pretty much anything, including the summer mainstay cherry limeades. Learning the cherries can also be harmful is the pits. Literally, the pits. Cherry pits are full of cyanide, but thankfully it can only cause harm if you manage to chew through them.
I don’t know about you, but one of my favorite things about fall and winter is breaking out the nutcracker and mixed nuts, especially almonds. Something about the flavor instantly makes me think of the holidays. That flavor comes from sweet almonds which, unlike their wild cousins, don’t contain cyanide.
Anyone ever tell you not to eat the seeds of apples because they’ll grow in your stomach? While you definitely won’t sprout an apple tree from eating the seeds, eating too many can still do some damage. That pesky cyanide is again found in the seeds of the fruit. You’d have to eat quite a few seeds to feel the effects of the poison, but be on the safe side and core your apples before using them in holiday cooking.
Starchy or sweet, potatoes are a major part of holiday eating. They’re also incredibly good for you, packing large amounts of potassium and vitamin C. However, make sure your potatoes aren’t green before indulging. Green potatoes contain solanine, which can cause an upset stomach and cardiac arrest.
Mostly known for their use in wine and medicinal teas, elderberries are a fairly common berry. While the berries themselves are delicious, the green parts of the plant should be avoided. They will make you incredibly ill, and that’s not something anyone wants on Christmas.
With rice, you are probably better off knowing where it came from and whether or not it’s organic. Though all rice contains arsenic, rice grown in Texas holds higher amounts. You’d have to eat a lot of it to get arsenic poisoning. However, even small amounts of arsenic can be dangerous over time.
Best known for pairing with strawberries in pie, rhubarb adds a natural tartness to any dish. The stalks do anyway. Rhubarb leaves are highly toxic. Though considered a leafy green, you should avoid consuming the leaves due to their oxalic acid content. Instead, dice up the stalks and combine them with the sweet fruit of your choice for a holiday dessert.
While these foods do contain poisons that would add the wrong kind of punch to your holiday, it’s highly unlikely that they will cause any trouble at Christmas dinner. As long as you avoid overeating and don’t eat the parts you’re not supposed to, your holiday meals will remain merry, bright and poison free.