Sean Cate
Sean Cate
June 22, 2024 ·  3 min read

There Are Foods In Your Cupboard That Can Kill You, Even If You Eat Small Amounts

Many of the foods we keep in our cupboards and consume daily can be surprisingly dangerous if not handled or consumed properly. While they might seem harmless, some can even be fatal in small amounts due to their toxic components. Here are 17 such foods that can kill and the risks associated with them.

1. Soy Sauce

soya sauce
Credit: Pixabay

Soy sauce enhances the flavor of many dishes. However, due to its high salt content, consuming large quantities of this food can kill. Just one cup contains 14 grams of salt, enough to cause hypernatremia, a condition that can lead to brain damage and death.1

Read More: 9 Foods That Could Make Eczema Worse (And Many That Can Help)

2. Liquid Nitrogen

Liquid nitrogen cryogenic tank at life sciences laboratory: Steam of nitrogen created from liquid nitrogen exposed to ambient temperatures
Source: Shutterstock

Used in trendy cocktails and culinary displays, liquid nitrogen can cause severe internal damage if ingested. An 18-year-old woman had to have her stomach removed after drinking a liquid nitrogen cocktail, highlighting the extreme dangers of this substance.2

3. Rhubarb Leaves

rhubarb leaves
Credit: Pixabay

While the stalks of rhubarb are commonly used in desserts, the leaves contain oxalic acid, a compound used in bleach and rust removal. Rhubarb leaves as a food can kill, or at least lead to severe symptoms like nausea and vomiting.

4. Cherry Pits

Credit: Pixabay

Cherry pits contain cyanogenic compounds that convert to cyanide when crushed. While swallowing whole pits is usually safe, broken pits can release enough cyanide to be fatal.

5. Puffer Fish

puffer fish
Credit: Pixabay

Puffer fish, or fugu, contains tetrodotoxin, a potent toxin that can cause paralysis and death. Even with specialized preparation by trained chefs, the risk remains high, and there is no known antidote.

6. Ackee Fruit

Ackee Bud High Key image
Source: Shutterstock

Ackee fruit must ripen fully before consumption as it contains toxins that can be deadly. The food has been known to kill through poisoning, leading to its ban in raw form in the US.

7. Castor Beans

Castor beans in the wooden spoon, isolated on white background, top view
Source: Shutterstock

Castor beans produce castor oil, which is safe when processed correctly. However, the beans themselves contain ricin, a highly potent toxin. Even just a few unprocessed beans puts this food on the list that kills.

8. Peanuts

Credit: Pixabay

Peanuts are a common allergen that can cause severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, which can be life-threatening. Allergies can develop at any age, making peanuts a potential risk. Peanuts are probably the most popular food that kills today.

9. Shellfish

Credit: Pixabay

Shellfish allergies are among the most common and can lead to severe reactions, including difficulty breathing and death. Even a small amount can trigger a serious response in allergic individuals.

Read More: 10 Foods To Avoid if You Have High Blood Pressure (and 10 to Eat More of)

10. Elderberries

Credit: Pixabay

Raw elderberries, including their stems and leaves, contain glycosides that turn into cyanide when ingested. Cooking elderberries neutralizes these toxins, making them safe to eat.

11. Wild Almonds

Credit: Pixabay

Wild almonds contain cyanide and must be specially processed to be safe. Consuming even a small number of bitter almonds can be fatal due to their high cyanide content.

12. Lima Beans

Lots of white beans. Texture background. Top view.

Raw lima beans contain linamarin, which releases hydrogen cyanide. Thorough cooking destroys this toxin, making lima beans safe to eat.

13. Nutmeg

Credit: Pixabay

In large doses, nutmeg can cause myristicin poisoning, leading to severe symptoms like hallucinations, nausea, and even death. It’s safe in small quantities typically used in cooking.

14. Cinnamon

Credit: Pixabay

The popular “cinnamon challenge” can be dangerous. Inhaling cinnamon can cause severe respiratory issues and even death. It’s best used in moderation as a spice.

15. Apple Seeds

Credit: Pixabay

Don’t be fooled, apples themselves arent a food that kills. Apple seeds contain amygdalin, which can release cyanide when metabolized. While it takes a large number of seeds to be dangerous, it’s best to avoid consuming them.

16. Potatoes

Credit: Pixabay

Green or sprouted potatoes contain solanine, a toxin that can cause nausea, headaches, and even death if consumed in large amounts. Always avoid green potatoes and remove any sprouts.

17. Tomatoes

Credit: Pixabay

Tomato leaves and stems contain tomatine, a toxic alkaloid. While the fruit is safe to eat, consuming large quantities of the leaves or stems can be harmful.


Dangerous food. Empty plate, fork and knife wrapped in crime scene tape.
Source: Shutterstock

Many common foods have hidden dangers that can kill if not handled or consumed correctly. Being aware of these risks and practicing moderation can help ensure that we enjoy these foods safely.

Read More: 9 of The Best Foods and Drinks for Liver Health


  1. Surprisingly small amount of soy sauce can actually kill you.” Lad Bible. Tom Wood. November 7, 2023.
  2. 12 foods that can kill you.” Mens Journal. Brittany Smith. September 1, 2021.