The potential dangers of eating cookie dough before it goes into the oven, as tempting as it is, are pretty well known. But did you know that there are actually foods that can be poisonous if eaten raw? Kidney beans and elderberries, for example, are perfectly fine—if not great—for you when cooked, but can be very harmful if consumed raw. And then there are also cruciferous vegetables that are much easier to digest, have more health benefits, and taste better if you eat them cooked. Here are 30 foods that are best consumed cooked instead of eaten raw. Also, check out The #1 Best Juice to Drink Every Day, Says Science.
Spuds are one of our favorite and most versatile foods: They can be fried, roasted, mashed, or twice-baked, but they shouldn't be eaten raw. Uncooked and green potatoes, which should never be eaten, can contain toxic compounds called glycoalkaloids that can aggravate the digestive system. Not to mention, the taste and texture wouldn't be so appetizing either.
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The stalks of the rhubarb plant are edible, but the leaves can actually be poisonous and may lead to difficulty breathing, burning of the mouth and throat, and even seizures, according to New York City's Mount Sinai Hospital. Most of the time, rhubarb is sold without the leaves, but be sure to remove them if you grow it yourself.
You may have grown up being forced to eat these legumes, but you should never have one raw. Lima beans have a compound called linamarin, which breaks down into cyanide. Luckily, cooking the beans for just 10 to 20 minutes makes them completely harmless to eat.
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Red Kidney Beans
Another type of bean that should never be eaten raw is the red kidney bean, even more so than the white kidney bean. Just four or five of them can contain high levels of the toxin lectin, which can cause severe foodborne illness. They should be cooked for a solid half-hour, and the water should be fully drained afterward to ensure all the lectin is able to escape.
"It is never safe to eat wild mushrooms, raw or cooked, without a trained expert," says Alexandra Oppenheimer Delvito, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., a New York-based registered dietitian. Most mushroom varieties that you'd find in a supermarket are safe to eat raw, Delvito says, but their flavor is definitely enhanced by throwing them in a pan with some spices.
It's probably no surprise to you that eggs shouldn't be eaten raw because of potential contamination from Salmonella bacteria. "In order to ensure any existing bacteria is killed, the egg needs to be cooked to a safe temperature, which is 145°F. If eggs are mixed with other ingredients, they should be cooked to 160°F," Delvito says. She suggests using pasteurized eggs or egg products if a recipe calls for raw egg.
Beef, Pork, and Chicken
You should always pay attention to the footnotes on restaurant menus warning you against eating raw or undercooked meat and poultry, Delvito says. "Meats should be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature. For ground meats, that's 160°F. For beef or lamb steaks, roasts or chops, that's 145°F and then allowing it to rest for three minutes. And for pork, that's 145°F and then allowing it to rest for three minutes. Turkey and chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F," Delvito says. "Below these temperatures, you are taking a risk."
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Cassava is a staple in many South American and African dishes. But, like lima beans, the raw root and its leaves contain a derivative of cyanide and should be baked or roasted for optimum taste and safety.
While the berries have a reputation for fighting off colds and the flu, and even calming acne and irritated skin, their raw form can be poisonous. It's best to thoroughly boil them before adding them to your favorite syrup or elixir, according to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
Eggplant, before it's cooked, has the same glycoalkaloid compound as raw potatoes do, solanine, which isn't lethal, but it's still not ideal to eat raw. Plus, a study from Food Chemistry showed that eggplant can have further antioxidant benefits when sautéed in olive oil, so it's a win-win.
Pufferfish is never to be eaten raw—and it's even a risk to eat when cooked. "The pufferfish makes a toxic compound called tetrodotoxin, which is not necessarily destroyed by heat. So the parts of the fish that contain the toxin must be carefully and thoroughly removed, making sure that none of the rest of the fish is contaminated with the toxin," says Jennifer Dennis-Wall, PhD, lead scientific writer at Biorasi, a contract research organization. Plus, unlike in Japan, there is no training and certification process for American chefs to cook this potentially deadly fish, according to the FDA, so it's even riskier to consume stateside.
Raw sprouts like mung bean and alfalfa can be unsafe because pathogenic bacteria can get into the seeds, even before they grow. This can be dangerous to pregnant women and those with compromised immune systems, according to the FDA.
Bitter almonds grow as a cyanogenic plant, meaning it contains cyanide. The almonds are fine once they're cooked or roasted, but they are not safe to eat raw. The raw form of the bitter variety is actually illegal in the U.S., but it's more prevalent in certain parts of Europe.
It's important for milk and milk products to go through processing before they can be ingested. "Dairy products are pasteurized to kill off pathogens, and this process is very important in preventing some serious foodborne illnesses that cause infections," Dennis-Wall says.
Honey should go through similar processes as milk to make sure it's safe to eat. Honey is pasteurized because in its raw form, it can contain spores of a toxin called Clostridium botulinum, which can also do harm to pregnant women and children under the age of one.
In addition to the raw eggs in baking, raw flour can also make you sick, so eating that cookie dough is a double risk. Due to a 2016 E. coli outbreak, which was suspected to be from raw flour, the CDC advises that all foods that might contain uncooked flour be avoided. "Raw flour also has a higher amount of compounds called phytates or phytic acid. Phytates bind to some minerals—such as iron, zinc, and calcium—preventing them from being absorbed," says Dennis-Wall. But if you cook the food that has the raw flour in it, you should be in the clear. "Some of the phytates may be destroyed to a degree by fermenting, which occurs when there is yeast in the bread and it is left to rise, or by soaking before cooking," she says.
Raw green beans aren't necessarily poisonous, as they were once thought to be, but when uncooked, they can have higher levels of the protein lectin, which is found in many beans and may cause digestive problems. Blanching green beans lowers the lectin levels significantly and is the safest way to eat them.
Uncooked rice, if you'd even be able to chew it, would not be at all safe to ingest. According to a study in the International Journal of Food Microbiology, it can contain a disease-causing bacteria. It's usually not present in cooked rice, but can begin to form if rice is left out or not refrigerated properly after cooking, so it's important to be safe when prepping it.
Broccoli is one veggie that there's a nutritional benefit to cooking: If cooked properly, it can increase cancer-fighting compounds called glucosinolates, says Allison Knott, M.S., R.D.N., C.S.S.D., a New York City-based dietitian. "One study looked at the effect of steaming broccoli versus frying or boiling and found that steaming preserved or increased the glucosinolates, whereas frying and boiling caused the compounds to degrade significantly," Knott says. And it may also be much easier for your digestive system to process broccoli if it's cooked rather than consumed raw.
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This sister veggie of broccoli may also be tricky to tolerate and digest raw. Roasting or grilling it can be easier on your stomach and can bring out a delicious flavor in cauliflower. One study from the Institute of Food Technologists also found that the cauliflower lost the least minerals and essential nutrients by grilling it or baking it in the oven, as opposed to boiling.
Asparagus is one of those veggies that most likely tastes better seasoned and cooked properly, but it's actually healthier, too. Research from the Institute of Food Technologists has found that cooking green asparagus increases its antioxidant content as compared to consuming the raw stalks.
Brussels sprouts are certainly tastier and tend to lose some of their bitterness when cooked; not to mention, they might cause less bloating and gas than they could if consumed raw. Cooking the sprouts releases a cancer-fighting compound called isothiocyanates, which may help inhibit the growth of tumors, according to Harvard University's School of Public Health.
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Of course, a kale salad is a perfectly hearty meal or side dish, but when it comes to digestion, you might suffer. Cooking kale can help soften the fibers and aid digestion. Plus, cooked kale is better for those with thyroid disease, since its raw form can inhibit the uptake of iodine by the thyroid gland, according to Oregon State University's Linus Pauling Institute.
Cabbage, like kale, is a member of the cruciferous family. Not only is it difficult to digest raw for some, but cooking it also brings out the vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, and folate content even further, according to Megan Ware, R.D.N., L.D.
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It's been said for decades that one of these a day will keep the doctor away. It's high in both antioxidants and fiber, which can be both a blessing and a curse. Some people are bothered by foods with too much fiber, which can cause gastrointestinal issues. Apples also have high fructose content. Fructose is a FODMAP, a compound that certain people might need to reduce in their diet to eliminate bloating, IBS, or other digestive problems. Peeling and cooking apples, as in apple sauce or baked apples, might make them easier to digest.
It's more of a taste and sanitary preference to avoid eating olives right off the tree. "Olives need to be cured, as otherwise they are extremely bitter and not enjoyable to eat," says Mike Roussell, PhD.
Raw or cooked, spinach boasts a ton of nutrients. But when steamed, you may be able to both digest it better and absorb its iron and calcium more easily, according to Consumer Reports. The oxalic acid in spinach, which usually prohibits the absorption of iron and calcium, diminishes with heat, so cooking it ultimately helps the body boost its nutrient levels.
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Research published in the Journal of Agriculture and Food Chemistry found that boiling zucchini, as compared to frying or steaming, can increase its nutrient factor. But be sure to leave the skin intact, since it's where the zucchini's nutrients are most plentiful.
Tomatoes are delicious fresh, cooked, baked, or roasted. But putting them in heat releases a nutrient called lycopene, an antioxidant that may improve heart health and reduce the risk for certain types of cancer. "Cooking helps break down the cell walls and this liberates nutrients like lycopene. Cooking foods generally makes them easier to digest for this same reason: breaking down the cell walls," Roussell says.
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One of our favorite fall flavors takes on an even richer flavor when baked into breads, pies, and soups, and it may be better for you, too. While you likely wouldn't want to eat it raw anyway, cooked pumpkin—and its winter squash relatives, like acorn, delicata, and butternut—has high levels of vitamins A and E, according to Ware.
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They're a variety of sweet almonds, but they contain hydrocyanic acid, which is a dangerous combo of hydrogen cyanide and water. According to the Spruce, it would only take about 70 raw bitter almonds to kill a fully grown adult. Yikes!
The fruit seeds and pits of apples, mangos, peaches, pears, and apricots contain a chemical known as amygdalin, which can turn into cyanide. And while you'd need to ingest tons of them to suffer the effects of poisoning, it's best to avoid consumption when you can. Next: The leaves of this root will poison you.What can you eat raw but not cooked? ›
- Nuts. You may love the taste of oil-roasted nuts, but the cooking process takes away some of the snack's nutritional value. ...
- Onions. Onions make you cry for a reason. ...
- Red bell pepper. ...
- Seaweed. ...
- Juice. ...
- Coconut. ...
- Broccoli. Commonly listed as one of the top five healthiest vegetables you can eat, broccoli is full of nutritional benefits essential to a healthy body. ...
- Watercress. ...
- Onions. ...
- Garlic. ...
- Red meat (including “the other white meat”) ...
- Bacon, hot dogs, and other processed meats. ...
- French fries and other fried foods. ...
- Sugary drinks and cereals. ...
- Potato chips and snack foods. ...
- Full-fat dairy products. ...
- Baked goods, cookies, and pastries.
Worst nuts for your diet
Ounce for ounce, macadamia nuts (10 to 12 nuts; 2 grams protein, 21 grams fat) and pecans (18 to 20 halves; 3 grams protein, 20 grams fat) have the most calories - 200 each - along with the lowest amounts of protein and the highest amounts of fats.
You may also want to avoid...
Eating raw cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, kale, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage. "Certain people cannot eat them because they contain sugars that are superhard to digest," says Mashru.
Vegetables that belong to the cabbage family such as cauliflower, Brussels, broccoli, and sprouts should never be consumed raw. These vegetables contain sugar that is difficult to digest. Eating these vegetables raw may lead to a number of gastronomical problems.Which two fruits Cannot be eaten together? ›
Try not to mix acidic fruits, such as grapefruits and strawberries, or sub-acidic foods such as apples, pomegranates and peaches, with sweet fruits, such as bananas and raisins for a better digestion. However, you can mix acidic with sub-acidic fruits. For a similar reason, you should not mix guavas and bananas.What is the number 1 healthiest food in the world? ›
Lemons. Lemons have been widely regarded in the health industry as the world's healthiest food. The sour fruit is an alkalising powerfood; they have strong anti-inflammatory qualities and can even help to inhibit the growth of cancer cells.
Although you can technically eat beans straight out of the can, even low-sodium varieties can be quite salty, so it's a good idea to drain and rinse them before eating them or cooking with them (unless a recipe specifically says otherwise).What is the healthiest vegetable to eat raw? ›
1. Spinach. This leafy green tops the chart as one of the most nutrient-dense vegetables. That's because 1 cup (30 grams) of raw spinach provides 16% of the Daily Value (DV) for vitamin A plus 120% of the DV for vitamin K — all for just 7 calories ( 1 ).What is the healthiest cooked food in the world? ›
Thai food is filled with intense flavors and tends to be rich in vegetables, making it one of the healthiest cuisines on the planet. Among the spices and flavors that make Thai food stand out are turmeric, coriander, ginger, lemongrass, and chili peppers.What is the number one food for your heart? ›
- Fish high in omega-3 fatty acids (salmon, tuna, and trout)
- Lean meats such as 95% lean ground beef or pork tenderloin or skinless chicken or turkey.
- Nuts, seeds, and soy products (tofu)
- Legumes such as kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, black-eyed peas, and lima beans.
- Sugar, Salt, Fat. 1/17. Over time, high amounts of salt, sugar, saturated fat, and refined carbs raise your risk for a heart attack or stroke. ...
- Bacon. 2/17. ...
- Red Meat. 3/17. ...
- Soda. 4/17. ...
- Baked Goods. 5/17. ...
- Processed Meats. 6/17. ...
- White Rice, Bread, and Pasta. 7/17. ...
- Pizza. 8/17.
Try to avoid dry-roasted, salted, flavoured or honey-roasted nuts, which come with extra salt and sometimes sugar too.What is the best nut to lower cholesterol? ›
Almonds and other tree nuts can improve blood cholesterol. A recent study concluded that a diet supplemented with walnuts can lower the risk of heart complications in people with history of a heart attack.What fish can't you eat raw? ›
Raw freshwater fish including grass carp, bighead carp or snakehead may carry parasites such as Chinese liver fluke, which can cause obstruction, inflammation and cancer of the biliary ducts in the liver. Chinese liver fluke contributes to the majority of local human cases of enteric parasites.Can you eat raw potatoes? ›
Raw potatoes contain solanine and lectins, two compounds that can cause gastric distress and potentially make you sick. Additionally, raw potatoes contain resistant starch, which is difficult to digest, and their overall taste and texture is nothing like the potatoes you know and love. When in doubt, cook that potato.What nut should you eat everyday? ›
Nuts like almonds, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts, and hazelnuts are a great source of nutrients, such as protein, fat, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. When eaten as part of a nutrient-dense diet, nuts may reduce your risk of heart disease and support immune health, among other benefits.
Almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts and pecans also appear to be quite heart healthy. So are peanuts — though they are technically not a nut, but a legume, like beans. It's best to choose unsalted or unsweetened nuts. Adding salt or sugar to nuts may cancel out their heart-healthy benefits.What are the top 5 nuts for the brain? ›
Nuts like almonds, pistachios and macadamias each bring something special to the table. Almonds help improve memory, pistachio nut oils help preserve fatty acids and prevent inflammation, and macadamias contribute to normal brain function. Yet, the top nut award certainly goes to the walnut.What is the main enemy of diabetes? ›
When most people think of a diet that leads to poor diabetes control, they may think of a diet high in carbs and sugar. While those types of food do impact your blood sugars, consuming too many saturated fats can be an enemy against diabetes control,too.What is the unhealthiest food in the world? ›
Some of the most unhealthy foods in the world include high-sugar cereals, sugary coffee drinks, canned soup, margarine, soda, processed lunch meats, ice cream and frozen french fries.What is the number one food that causes high blood pressure? ›
Salt or sodium
Salt, or specifically the sodium in salt, is a major contributor to high blood pressure and heart disease. This is because of how it affects fluid balance in the blood. Table salt is around 40 percent sodium. Some amount of salt is important for health, but it's easy to eat too much.
Vasant Lad notes that yogurt shouldn't be paired with milk. In addition to this, he also lists down a couple of everyday foods, that you may have been combining all your life with yogurt but shouldn't be! These include sour fruits, melons, fish, mango, starches, cheese and bananas.Which fruit is best to eat in morning empty stomach? ›
Empty stomach in the morning
Some of the best fruits to eat first thing in the morning are watermelon, papayas, guavas, mangoes, pomegranates, and bananas.
- Citrus breakfast: orange, lemon, lime, grapefruit. ...
- Exotic twist for your morning meal: banana, mango, pineapple, coconut. ...
- Berries extravaganza: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries. ...
- Amazing stone fruits: cherries, peaches, plums.
1. Lemons. Share on Pinterest Lemons contain vitamin C and other antioxidants that benefit health. Lemons are a citrus fruit that people often use in traditional remedies because of their health benefits.What is the number 1 healthy fruit? ›
Some of the healthiest fruits include pineapple, apples, blueberries, and mangos. You should eat three servings of fruit a day as part of a healthy diet. Eating fruit improves heart health, reduces inflammation, and boosts your immune system.
Water is the best choice for quenching your thirst. Coffee and tea, without added sweeteners, are healthy choices, too. Some beverages should be limited or consumed in moderation, including fruit juice, milk, and those made with low-calorie sweeteners, like diet drinks.What is the healthiest meat to eat? ›
- Sirloin Steak. Sirloin steak is both lean and flavorful – just 3 ounces packs about 25 grams of filling protein! ...
- Rotisserie Chicken & Turkey. The rotisserie cooking method helps maximize flavor without relying on unhealthy additives. ...
- Chicken Thigh. ...
- Pork Chop. ...
- Canned Fish.
Some kind of starch - wraps, pitas, crackers (to eat with peanut butter, hummus and/or tuna) Carrot sticks (these aren't light - but I eat them the first day or two for something fresh) Seaweed snacks (I take them out of packaging - they are salty, green, and lightweight)What can I eat without a microwave? ›
- Pesto Pasta With Grilled Chicken. spicedblog.com. ...
- Chicken Caesar Wraps. iheartnaptime.net. ...
- Greek Chickpea Wraps. theliveinkitchen.com. ...
- Mediterranean Pasta Salad. gimmesomeoven.com. ...
- Spicy Peanut Chicken Soba Noodle Salad. pinchofyum.com. ...
- Italian Chicken Salad Sandwiches. ...
- Tuna Salad Nori Wraps. ...
- Moroccan Chickpea Quinoa Power Salad.
Red kidney beans top this list with the highest levels of toxic compounds. But that's not all; white, broad, black, pinto, great Northern, and navy beans are all on the list of foods you should never eat raw.Can you eat corn straight from the can? ›
Canned corn is fully cooked, so it is safe to eat without further cooking. Canned vegetables are great to keep on hand. Look for “low sodium” or “no salt added” on the label, or rinse canned vegetables to reduce their sodium (salt) content.What foods can you eat raw? ›
Think uncooked, unprocessed, mostly organic foods. Your staples: raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and sprouted grains. Some eat unpasteurized dairy foods, raw eggs, meat, and fish. Your food can be cold or even a little bit warm, as long as it doesn't go above 118 degrees.What do raw vegans avoid? ›
- cooked vegetables, meats, and grains.
- baked foods.
- roasted nuts and seeds.
- refined oils.
- table salt.
- refined sugars and flour.
- pasteurized juices and dairy.
- coffee and tea.
High-risk foods are usually proteins like cooked meat, milk, or shellfish. Raw meat that is meant to be cooked is not considered a high-risk food. This is because the food-poisoning bacteria will be destroyed by the cooking processes.Why can't humans eat uncooked food? ›
Every living animal, including you, is host to a microscopic ecosystem of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Most of these microorganisms are killed when meat is cooked. But when left uncooked, meat becomes fertile ground for these and other germs within hours of death.
Broccoli can be eaten raw, cooked with meals, or as a snack.
Chicken can be a nutritious choice, but raw chicken is often contaminated with Campylobacter bacteria and sometimes with Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens bacteria. If you eat undercooked chicken, you can get a foodborne illness, also called food poisoning.Can you eat raw eggs? ›
Raw eggs aren't safe to eat if they're unpasteurized. That means they could contain harmful bacteria. And even though eggs can be sold as pasteurized — meaning they're heated just enough so bacteria is killed off — you still shouldn't crack open an egg and start chowing down.Can raw vegans eat eggs? ›
What does it mean to follow a raw vegan diet? It means you eat a vegan diet (no animal products, including meat, dairy, fish, eggs, and cheese) filled with foods that have not been cooked beyond 118 degrees.Is Peanut Butter raw vegan? ›
Good news: most peanut butter is vegan. Most peanut butter is made with just dry roasted peanuts and salt. Some might add oil and a little bit of sugar, too. In addition to classic peanut butter, there's also powdered peanut butter.Is popcorn raw vegan? ›
Yes, popcorn is vegan. Popcorn is a type of corn kernel.What is the riskiest food to-eat? ›
1. Fugu. Fugu is the Japanese word for pufferfish and the dish prepared from it can be lethally poisonous. The ovaries, intestines and liver of fugu contain tetrodotoxin, a neurotoxin up to 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide.What is unhealthiest food in the world? ›
- Fried food. ...
- Potato chips. ...
- Added sugars. ...
- Processed oils. ...
- Hydrogenated fats. ...
- Refined carbohydrates. ...
- Breakfast sausages. ...
- Processed meat.
- Dairy products (milk, cream, cheese, yogurt, and products containing them such as cream pies and quiches)
- Meat or meat products.
- Fish and seafood.
Steaks, pork chops, and other whole-muscle meats are the safest bet. That's because the cooking process can easily kill off bacteria on the cut's surface, while the inside of the meat is essentially sterile, protected from any potential pathogens—in theory.
Our ancestors in the palaeolithic period, which covers 2.5 million years ago to 12,000 years ago, are thought to have had a diet based on vegetables, fruit, nuts, roots and meat. Cereals, potatoes, bread and milk did not feature at all.What did humans eat before fire? ›
Between 2.6 and 2.5 million years ago, the Earth got significantly hotter and drier. Before that climate shift, our distant human ancestors—collectively known as hominins—were subsisting mostly on fruits, leaves, seeds, flowers, bark and tubers.