Foods You Should Never Eat Raw

Not all foods are safe to eat unless they’ve been cooked first. Consuming these things raw could have all sorts of consequences for you, some of which might even be fatal.

Cooking is a great skill to have, no matter who you are. It can mean the difference between eating a decent meal every day and having grilled cheese sandwiches all the time. The more you train yourself in the kitchen, the more creative you can get with your creations. That means you have better opportunities to test out new flavor combinations and find which recipes are right for you.

However, while cooking might be considered a useful skill to have, it’s a necessity for certain foods that you might want to eat. If you don’t cook these, you could end up getting sick or potentially even passing away. They’re often riddled with disease, and it’s only through the excessively hot temperatures that the bacteria is destroyed and the food made safe to eat.

If you want to avoid giving you and your loved ones things like salmonella or gastroenteritis, we’d recommend you always cook these foods before you eat them. Otherwise, no-one’s ever going to want you to make food for them again.

Flour

If you’ve ever done some baking in the kitchen, chances are you’ve made a bit of a mess with flour. That stuff has a habit of getting everywhere, and it’s pretty essential to most cake creations. However, we’d highly recommend that you never sample a taste of it before it’s gone in the oven.

That’s because it may well contain E.coli, something which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. As enticing as that cake batter might be, we’d highly recommend you hold off on eating it until it’s finished baking. Otherwise, you may lose your appetite before it’s done in the oven.

Poultry

It’s likely you’re already aware of how dangerous it is to eat raw poultry. The risks of uncooked chicken and the like are well documented, mainly because the food is riddled with bacteria. When the animals are slaughtered, they often become susceptible to campylobacter and salmonella.

These are two things that can easily cause food poisoning. They can lead to all sorts of trouble for you, including cramps, fever, and diarrhea. If you want to avoid these symptoms, all you have to do is ensure your poultry is cooked thoroughly before eating it. The heating process is incredibly effective at eliminating the bacteria.

Potatoes

There’s so much that you can do with potatoes. You can roast them, mash them, turn them into fries – you name it; there’s a chance you can do it. However, while they might be an incredibly versatile food, there’s one way that you should never eat them – raw.

Consuming potatoes that haven’t been cooked can aggravate your digestive system and cause a great deal of discomfort for you. What’s more, they may even lead to food poisoning if they’ve been stored somewhere warm. This exposure can turn the food green, an indication they contain high levels of solanine, which can cause sickness.

Oysters

Oysters might be known for being aphrodisiacs, but you may want to think twice before slurping down some of these mollusks. That’s because consuming them raw can really make a person sick, especially if their immune systems are already weakened.

It’s advised that children and pregnant women should avoid oysters at all costs due to the severe risk to their health. The reason that these mollusks can be so dangerous is because of the bacteria and viruses they can absorb while in the water. This includes vibriosis, a disease which claims dozens of lives in the United States every year.

Eggs

Considering that chickens pose a risk of spreading salmonella, it’s perhaps not surprising that eggs present the same danger. Eating one of these raw can leave you feeling worse for wear for several days, so it’s always a good idea to cook them thoroughly.

It’s apparently best to do them on a temperature of 145°F to ensure that the bacteria is completely destroyed. If you plan on cooking them with other ingredients, the recommended temperature is slightly higher at 160°F. Luckily, there are so many different ways you can cook eggs that eating them raw is hardly your only option.

Bitter almonds

Unlike their sweeter relatives which are perfectly fine to eat as is, bitter almonds are not to be consumed without being cooked first. That’s because they contain hydrocyanic acid, a chemical which can be lethal in a high enough dose. It supposedly only takes as much as ten bitter almonds for a child to lose their life, and up to 70 for an adult.

Considering this food can have such fatal consequences, you might wonder why anyone would eat them raw in the first place. However, these bitter almonds supposedly have healing properties, which is why people still consume them as is.

Unpasteurized milk

Milk is one of those groceries that plenty of people buy from the store, so the idea it can make you ill seems questionable. However, that’s because the product you find on the shelf has been sterilized with heat to remove harmful bacteria. When the milk is collected from a cow, it’s potentially already infected by things like salmonella or E.coli.

These are only removed through pasteurization, which is why you should always stay away from something advertised as unpasteurized. You might prefer your food as natural as possible, but raw milk can be a real danger to your health.

Unpasteurized honey

Milk isn’t the only product that goes through pasteurization. Honey is another food that requires this product to ensure its safe for the public to eat. The problem with raw honey is that it can be a breeding ground for Clostridium botulinum. This is a bacterium that can develop into the neurotoxin, botulinum.

It’s often responsible for causing weakness and paralysis in people. Due to their lowered immune systems, pregnant women and young children are most at risk from this toxin. However, anyone who eats unpasteurized honey puts themselves in danger because the bacterium isn’t especially picky about who it impacts.

Kidney beans

Kidney beans make a great addition to plenty of different pasta dishes and salads. However, if you’re going to use them, you’d best ensure they’ve been cooked first. When these beans are raw, they’re full of phytohemagglutinin which is known for being toxic. Once they’re inside the body, they can cause things like nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting.

Some people can be incredibly unlucky and have all three symptoms at once, leaving them with gastroenteritis. Unless you plan on spending the next few days stuck in the bathroom, you probably don’t want to chow down on raw kidney beans anytime soon.

Hotdogs

Usually, once a food has been cooked, it’s as safe as it’s ever going to be. However, that’s not necessarily the case with hot dogs that you can buy at the grocery store. Although these have already been cooked once, it’s highly advised that you heat them up again for maximum safety.

That’s because these hot dogs can still contain listeria when you buy them, an illness which results in diarrhea, fever, and even convulsions. If left untreated, this disease can be fatal, so it’s in your best interest to keep away from it. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Eggplants

Potatoes aren’t the only food that contains solanine. Eggplants are precisely the same, with just one of them harboring around 11 milligrams of the stuff. Although this toxin acts as a form of defense against pests, it also causes health problems for anyone who consumes it.

While you’d have to eat quite a few raw eggplants for the solanine to be lethal, just one has the potential to make you ill. That’s why health experts advise that you always cook the nightshade plant to avoid running into any problems. Unless, of course, you want to be vomiting all night long.

Green beans

If you’ve ever bitten into a raw green bean, you probably weren’t overwhelmed by the taste and texture. They’re not exactly the most appealing thing to eat uncooked, especially given they can upset your stomach. Green beans contain lectin which is responsible for causing all manner of digestive issues.

While this isn’t poisonous and won’t be fatal, it will leave you feeling worse for wear. Luckily, boiling green beans and then putting them in cold water can significantly reduce the amount of lectin they have. That makes them far safer to eat and prevents you from getting a tummy ache.

Yuca

Of all the known poisons in the world, cyanide is perhaps one of the most famous. It’s been featured quite a few times in films and on TV, and it was even in the title of a book by Agatha Christie. So, when you hear that a food contains cyanide, the last thing you probably want to do is eat it.

Yuca is one such example, although it’s only in its raw state that the South American shrub is a danger. The release of cyanide in your body can lead you to become very ill, although one yuca won’t be lethal.

Wild salmon

There’s long been an argument about the safety of eating wild salmon compared to fish that have been farmed. One of the issues with the former is the health risks they pose due to infiltration of parasites in the water. There’s been talk of salmon being infected by anisakis larvae, a parasitic worm which can cause vomiting, fever, and occasionally even anaphylaxis.

It’s vital that these larvae are removed during gutting, and that the fish is well cooked before eating. If you caught the fish yourself, then you have to think hard about what you consider safe enough to consume.

Lima beans

These are another type of bean that should never be consumed raw, although the reason for this is slightly different from kidney beans. Whereas they had phytohemagglutinin which led to health issues, lima beans are full of cyanogenic glycosides.

These are referred to as natural plant toxins because they protect the plant if its under threat. When bitten into, the beans release chemicals which can be fatal in large amounts. Fortunately, cooking this food removes the toxins and makes it safe for consumption. If that’s not reason enough to refrain from eating these beans raw, we don’t know what is.

Castor beans

Most people don’t tend to eat castor beans, instead using their oil to help with things like inducing labor and relieving constipation. That’s probably a good thing given that these beans can be extremely toxic if consumed raw. They harbor ricin, another form of lectin, which is often used as a poison.

The fact it was featured in Breaking Bad should probably give you a good idea of how lethal it can be. Castor beans have such a strong potential to do damage that they’re still not completely safe after cooking. That’s why you should stick to only consuming the oil.

Mushrooms

There seems to be a big debate about raw mushrooms, with some people fans of them while others can’t stand their taste and texture. Unfortunately, for anyone in the former category, the latter wins here. While it’s not dangerous to eat mushrooms without cooking them, consuming them raw can put your digestive system through some trouble.

That’s because mushrooms contain chitin, a compound that is difficult to digest. This isn’t an issue with cooked mushrooms because the heat breaks down the chitin and removes the problem. So, while you might enjoy raw mushrooms, your body would appreciate it if you didn’t eat them.

Sprouts

You can get various types of sprouts, but unfortunately, none of them are particularly safe to eat raw. That because the seeds are susceptible to bacteria, meaning they can be riddled with disease when they’re used as a garnish on your meal. Getting rid of the bacteria can be a big challenge, no matter how much you wash the sprouts.

This results in people getting things like salmonella, an illness that we all probably want to avoid. The issue with raw sprouts has become so prominent that many restaurants have now stopped using them as an ingredient in their dishes.

Taro

Taros are relatively similar to the potato, and just like this tuber, they also shouldn’t be eaten raw. Both the root and leaves of the taro are typically consumed, but it’s advised that you cook both to remove all traces of calcium oxalate.

This compound can leave your mouth feeling numb, and potentially even create the sensation of choking. What’s more, they’ve also been linked to the development of kidney stones, a painful disease that you definitely want to avoid. Thankfully, heat destroys the compound enough to prevent this, though you need to be very thorough when you’re cooking taro.

Elderberries

If you ever find yourself fighting off a cold or flu, you may well turn to elderberries. This food is known for having healing properties for these illnesses, as well as helping deal with acne and irritated skin. However, while the berries might be ideal when you’re under the weather, they should never be consumed raw.

Without being boiled first, these can end up having the opposite effect on you. This is due to the toxins present in the berries, which can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Those are things you certainly don’t want if you’re already suffering from an illness.

Pufferfish

Pufferfish is not a delicacy to be taken lightly. Eating this animal could be the last thing you ever do thanks to the powerful toxins in its body. The fish produces something called tetrodotoxin, a compound that can easily be fatal.

For a blowfish to be safe to consume, all toxic parts of the animal must be safely removed. While cooking certainly makes this delicacy safer to eat, it won’t necessarily rid the blowfish of all the tetrodotoxin. If you’re going to have this for a meal, we’d recommend doing it in Japan where people are trained to cook the fish.

Broccoli

There are plenty of foods which are dangerous to eat raw. However, not everything needs to be cooked because they pose a risk. Some foods simply shouldn’t be consumed raw because they don’t offer as many nutritional benefits that way. Broccoli is an excellent example of this.

It’s not dangerous to consume this vegetable raw, but steaming it increases the number of glucosinolates in the food. These are compounds you want in your body because they’re excellent at fighting off cancer. This positive effect isn’t as prominent if you boil or fry broccoli, although it’s still better than eating the vegetable raw.

Asparagus

Asparagus is another food that benefits significantly from being cooked. Nothing terrible will happen to you if you eat this vegetable raw, but you won’t get all the great nutrients on offer. Like with broccoli, asparagus contains compounds which help you to stave off cancer and stay healthy.

They’re also full of antioxidants which increase when the vegetable is steamed or sautéed rather than being served raw. Obviously, asparagus is known for having the unfortunate side effect of making your urine smell bad. However, that’s nothing major, and it’s undoubtedly worth all the benefits that come from eating the vegetable.

Olives

If you’ve ever eaten an olive, the chances are that it wasn’t raw. You can instantly tell when one has been plucked fresh from the tree because it has an incredibly bitter taste. This is reduced by the brining process, which makes olives palatable and prevents you from wanting to spit your food out immediately.

Although raw olives contain oleuropein, a compound that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the health benefits don’t override the taste sensation. After all, what good are they as a source of nutrients if you can’t even bring yourself to swallow one? They really are that bitter!

Tomatoes

It might seem like a bit of a stretch to say you should never eat tomatoes raw. After all, they’re a popular choice in many salads, and it’s rare you put them in one cooked. However, while these fruits – yes, they’re fruits – might be perfectly safe to consume as is, you should refrain from eating them raw.

When they’re cooked, tomatoes release lycopene which helps care for your heart and fight off cancer. They’re also a lot easier to digest because the heat breaks down the cell walls. These things might seem small, but they can have a significant impact on your health.

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