There is a lot of hype behind eating raw foods. And considering how the American diet is filled with processed foods, it makes sense to throw in some raw foods into the mix to get all the nutrients in their natural form. True, certain foods can be eaten right away, such as carrots, cucumber, and spinach. However, other foods like meat can never be eaten raw. Cooking not only improves the taste and nutrition of certain foods, but some foods can turn out to be toxic if eaten raw. Here is a list of foods you should never eat raw.
Most people like raw, fresh produce. Raw sprouts are especially used in salads and sandwiches. But, according to the Food & Drug Administration (FDA), sprouts can harbor harmful bacteria that could cause foodborne diseases. You see, sprouts are grown from seeds under warm and humid conditions. These are the perfect conditions for bacteria to grow and multiply.
The FDA strongly advises against eating raw sprouts, especially for young children, pregnant women or adults with weak immune systems. To consume sprouts safely, thoroughly wash and cook them to kill the bacteria.
Milk and Dairy Products
Raw milk and any dairy product made from raw milk should be avoided. Foods like cheese, yogurt, and ice cream should only be consumed if they are made from pasteurized milk. During pasteurization, milk is heated to over 150 degrees Fahrenheit and then rapidly cooled down. This process kills all harmful bacteria, including Salmonella, listeria and E. coli. The CDC reports that illnesses from drinking raw milk and products made from raw milk are on the increase with children being at more risk of getting sick.
These delicious starchy roots contain essential nutrients that we need for our growth. They can be boiled, fried, mashed or made into crisps just like potatoes. Cassava, also going by the name yucca, should never be eaten raw. There have been cases of food poisoning caused by these roots with some even causing death. Scientists say that yucca contains cyanide in the leaves, which are intended to keep animals from eating them. However, the cyanide may sometimes penetrate the edible roots, making them toxic if eaten raw. To safely enjoy cassavas or yucca, they should be dried, soaked in water, rinsed, and then cooked immediately after harvest.
Raw Kidney Beans
Red kidney beans are nutrient-dense legumes that make for a healthy addition to our meals on one condition – that they are cooked first. Raw kidney beans contain a naturally occurring lectin, phytohaemagglutinin, which, scientists say, can cause severe diarrhea, vomiting, and nausea. The high concentrations of this lectin in kidney beans makes it toxic if eaten raw. To safely consume kidney beans, you should wash them thoroughly, soak at least five hours, drain the water, and then boil them until well cooked.
Potato crisps, anyone? At least that’s one of the most common and favorite snacks anywhere. But when it comes to raw potatoes, things are quite different. Generally, they are not safe for consumption since they contain starch that can cause bloating, gas among other digestive issues. Not forgetting that the texture and taste of raw potatoes can be quite unpleasing. Likewise, avoid green potatoes. They contain solanine, a poisonous toxin, in high concentration. If ingested, even in small doses, this toxin may cause nausea and headaches. To avoid all these complications, cook potatoes by either steaming, baking, or boiling them.
According to nutritionists and health experts, one should never eat wild mushrooms, raw or cooked, without a trained expert. There are dozens of mushroom species and the safest ones are those found in food stores. Wild mushrooms can cause serious health problems and should be avoided.
Raw eggs are home to bacteria, such as Salmonella. Therefore, to avoid contamination, eggs need to be cooked to a safe temperature of around 160 degrees Fahrenheit. To be even safer, use pasteurized eggs or egg products if your recipe requires eggs.
Pork, Chicken, and Meat
Consuming raw or undercooked meat, poultry or pork can lead to serious health consequences. Health experts advise cooking meat above 160 degrees Fahrenheit to kill off any bacteria. Pork has been associated with various illnesses, such as pork tapeworm and trichinosis whose symptoms include vomiting, nausea, pink eye, muscle pain, and seizures. So, make sure you thoroughly cook any type of meat first before consuming it.
Undoubtedly, raw foods are rich sources of nutrition. However, not all foods can be eaten raw. If you’re not sure, it’s advisable to check with a trained expert first to avoid possibilities of food poisoning or unpleasant symptoms.
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