10 unexpectedly toxic common 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 most supermarkets should be 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.


Chillies are renowned for their heat, which is what makes them so popular. However, it is actually the chemical that causes this spiciness (capsaicin) which can cause toxic effects such as stomach pain, itchy skin and, in extreme cases, death. For most people eating chillies will do little harm, however capsaicin is best eaten sparingly so make sure to take it easy and avoid any chilli eating challenges!

Rapeseed oil

There has been much controversy about this seemingly innocent natural oil, but the general consensus seems to be that it could have many negative implications on our health. Reports state that the rape plant - from which the oil is produced - is extremely toxic, and side effects of consuming its oil could include respiratory problems and blindness.


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 one in five packs of American long-grain rice contain potentially harmful levels of the toxic substance, while others have 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 convulsions, palpitations, nausea, dehydration and death.

Non-organic apples

Although it is advisable to buy as much organic fruit and veg as you can, in reality this is hard to do on most people's budgets. When making decisions over whether or not to go organic, it is important therefore to note that some foods have a higher concentration of pesticides than others, and apples are one of the fruits that top this list. Because apples are vulnerable to insect infestations and growths, growers are liable to coat the fruit in chemical pesticides and fungicides, some of which will absorb into its flesh. To minimise health risks, try to buy organic apples wherever possible, or at least remove the skin before eating.