Eating too much celery can be harmful

Poison in the pot? These ingredients need special treatment

Potatoes, vegetables, whole grains and legumes should be at the top of our menus. But some varieties require special treatment, otherwise they are poisonous to us. We show you where to watch out.


Even supposedly harmless foods can be toxic in large quantities. Potatoes, for example, mainly contain solanine in the skin area and in the green parts. This is an alkaloid that can cause a burning sensation in the throat, nausea, sweating and shortness of breath. The potato forms the substance more if it is stored incorrectly, for example if the potatoes are exposed to light for too long. Therefore: always store potatoes in a cool and dark place. Experts even advise not to eat green or sprouted potatoes at all.

In order not to have to do without the vitamins and minerals in potatoes, it is best to cook your potatoes with the skin on and peel the skin off before eating. The cooking water should no longer be used, as the solanine is right there after boiling.


Rice is a popular side dish. But almost everyone skips an important step in the preparation. Because the rice plant absorbs poisonous arsenic from the earth, which is then also found in our rice grains. However, some arsenic can be “washed out”. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment advises consumers: Before using the rice, wash it thoroughly in a sieve and, depending on the type of preparation, cook it in plenty of water.

Quinoa & Amaranth

The two Peuso cereals are rich in nutrients. But have you noticed that these sometimes have a slightly bitter taste? This comes from the contained saponins or tannins. Saponins occur naturally in quinoa grain. There are technological methods to remove them, but not every manufacturer apparently uses them. Ingested in large quantities, they are harmful to our health. Saponins affect the permeability of our cell membranes and can damage our red blood cells. Each quinoa grain is wrapped in a coat of saponins - at least some of which can be washed away. Therefore, it is essential to put quinoa in a colander and wash thoroughly before cooking. Amaranth contains certain tannins that inhibit the absorption of minerals and vitamins. It is therefore advisable to soak the grains in water before cooking, for example overnight.

Beans & Chickpeas

Legumes such as green beans, runner beans or chickpeas should never be eaten raw. In their raw state, they contain the toxin phasin, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea and, in extreme cases, fatal, bloody inflammation of the small intestine. A few raw beans are enough for this.

However, if pulses are only cooked or cooked for a quarter of an hour, the toxin becomes harmless. Canned beans and chickpeas are already cooked and can also be added cold to the salad.

Dried chickpeas or peas should be soaked in water 12 hours before consumption and then cooked for about two hours. Important: Change the soaking water once or twice and then boil the peas in fresh water. It is best not to cook legumes directly in dishes (e.g. stews), but separately.


Homer mentioned celery, the favorite vegetable of the sorceress Calypso, in his Odyssey 3,000 years ago. What he might not have known: Celery contains, among other things. the problematic furocoumarins. These substances are heat-stable and can trigger toxic effects when exposed to sunlight (here you can find a press release from the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment BfR).

With just about 500 grams of celery in one meal, you can ingest so many poisonous furocoumarins that your skin can react with sunburn-like symptoms. It is therefore better to enjoy celery in smaller quantities, for example together with other root vegetables.


As with potatoes, the harmful solanine is deposited in the green areas of the tomato - for example around the stem (in tomatoes it is called tomatin). It is therefore advisable to thoroughly remove the stem of the tomato when cutting. You can safely use ripe tomatoes because they hardly contain any tomatin.


Although rhubarb is often prepared like fruit in summer, it is a vegetable. We value rhubarb because it is low in calories and provides us with minerals (potassium, iron, phosphorus) as well as fiber and vitamin C.

Unfortunately, it also contains oxalic acid (460 milligrams per 100 grams), which in large quantities can cause symptoms of poisoning. The oxalic acid combines with the minerals it contains, which are then poorly absorbed by the body and, in the worst case, can lead to kidney and bladder stones.

The acid is mainly found in the leaves, which is why they should not be eaten. The furry feeling you get on your teeth or tongue when you eat rhubarb comes from this very oxalic acid.

The most effective measure to eliminate the oxalic acid in rhubarb is by cooking. Only use peeled rhubarb and prepare it with dairy products. The calcium contained in dairy products binds oxalic acid. This prevents large amounts of oxalic acid from entering the body through the intestines.


The seeds of the nutmeg tree are grated and used as a spice and are harmless to humans in quantities that are customary in the kitchen. Nutmeg consists of ten percent essential oils and around 30 percent fatty oils, resins, lignans, the coloring agent lycopene and myristicin. Eating a whole nutmeg can - triggered by the myristicin - lead to hallucinations, severe nausea and symptoms of intoxication. You should therefore store your nutmegs in the kitchen so that children are not tempted to swallow the spice nuts.

No panic! The good prevails

But don't be afraid to continue using the ingredients described above for meals! Because much more important than the isolated problematic substances they contain and which can be reduced with the right handling is the multitude of healthy nutrients that they provide us. You do not need to do without vitamins, secondary plant substances, trace elements, etc. if you know what to look out for.

Photo credits: © arska n /