Foods That Can Make You Sick Or Kill You

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Peanuts
> Principal danger: Aflatoxins

Peanuts are healthy, right? Unfortunately, a type of fungus known as aspergillus can cause peanuts to develop aflatoxins, which are carcinogenic in themselves, but are also the trigger for extremely serious allergic reactions, especially in children, leading to death if not treated immediately. .

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Raw cashews
> Principal danger: Urushiol

Raw cashews contain urushiol, a substance found in poison ivy. But if you see “raw” cashews in the store, they’re safe to eat because the nuts have been steamed to remove the toxins. A small percentage of people, however, have a severe allergic reaction to the nuts, similar to that more commonly linked to peanuts and just as potentially dangerous.

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Raw honey
> Principal danger: Clostridium botulinum, pyrrolizidine alkaloids

Although safe for most adults, raw honey is especially dangerous to children under the age of one. The syrupy substance can contain spores of a bacterium that could cause botulism poisoning. Signs of an adverse reaction include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Adults and older children can fight off the bacteria, but babies cannot. Compounds called pyrrolizidine alkaloids may cause symptoms of illness in some adults, as well, and a small segment of the population is allergic to bee pollen and may get sick from honey.

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Rhubarb leaves
> Principal danger: Oxalic acid

Rhubarb stalks are perfectly safe to eat, and their tart flavor often finds its way into pies and tarts, with or without strawberries, in the spring. The leaves, however, are another story: They’re inedible because of a high concentration of oxalic acid, which can cause diarrhea and vomiting and lead to more serious conditions.

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Starfruit
> Principal danger: Caramboxin

Shaped like a star, the starfruit, or carambola, contains a high concentration of oxalate. Most people can consume it safely, but it could cause further damage to those with kidney disease, and may interfere with the absorption of some prescription medicines.

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