5 healthy foods that can cause harm in large quantities

5 healthy foods that can cause harm in large quantities

It is known that you should only eat chips, gummy bears and cookies in moderation. But the same applies to some really healthy foods: in large quantities, they can harm the body.

Calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus: In Brazil nut contains many minerals. The Brazil nut is particularly known for its high selenium content. Brazil nuts can serve as a reliable source of selenium, especially for vegans and vegetarians who don’t eat meat or fish.

However, one should not exaggerate when consuming Brazil nuts, as the fruits in tropical capsules have significantly more radioactive materials than other foods. It is safe to consume food contaminated to a small extent with radioactivity. According to the Federal Office of Radiological Protection, the average radiation dose from food is 300 microsieverts per year – as long as it does not contain Brazil nuts. Come over two Brazil nuts a day Added to this, annual radiation exposure increases by more than half, namely 160 microsieverts. This amount is still harmless to health.

But are two Brazil nuts enough to reach the recommended selenium intake? There are around 10 micrograms of selenium in two Brazil nut kernels – 100 grams of Brazil nuts contain around 103 micrograms of selenium, writes the German Nutrition Society (DGE). However: The selenium content can vary greatly depending on the nature of the soil. The US Department of Agriculture reports significantly higher selenium values ​​(between 136 and 2,740 micrograms, on average 1,920 micrograms). The DGE recommends a daily intake of 70 micrograms for adult males and 60 micrograms for females. It can, therefore, It is advisable to use additional sources of selenium.

Animal products can be a source of selenium, as animal feed can be enriched with the trace element in the EU. However, for animal and climate protection reasons, these are not recommended. If you prefer to consume selenium more directly, you will find a list of plant-based sources of selenium in this article: Foods containing selenium: there is a particularly high amount here

Eating raw spinach, for example as a salad or smoothie, is a good idea. After all, healthy nutrients are lost during cooking. However, you should not overindulge in raw spinach for two reasons.

Contains raw spinach oxalic acid, is found mainly on larger, older leaves and stems. Oxalic acid binds to calcium, magnesium and iron, making it difficult for the body to absorb these nutrients. Furthermore, large amounts of oxalic acid can increase the risk of kidney, bladder and ureter stones, as the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) writes.

Healthy adults do not need to worry about the health effects of oxalic acid if they occasionally eat raw spinach. However, if you tend to eat raw spinach in large quantities and other foods that contain a lot of oxalic acid, such as beets, rhubarb, chard, almonds, cashews, or cocoa, you may want to exercise some moderation. People with kidney disease You should consult a doctor to clarify whether and how many foods containing oxalic acid you can safely consume.

The second reason why you shouldn’t overdo it with raw spinach as well as arugula is the nitrate content. Nitrate can occur in the body nitrite become. This makes it difficult to transport oxygen in the blood. Nitrite can also form nitrosamines. These have been shown to have a carcinogenic effect in animal experiments. According to the BfR, it has not yet been clearly proven whether the same effect applies to humans.

You don’t need to worry too much about high nitrate intake if you eat a varied diet. Why: Nitrates in food apply in the EU Limits, which, according to the Lower Saxony State Office for Consumer Protection and Food Safety (LAVES), are generally respected. However, if you regularly eat large amounts of foods rich in nitrates, caution is advised. The BfR writes: “By consuming large quantities of raw spinach with a high oxalic acid and nitrate content every day Dangerous amounts of these substances can be absorbed.”

Arugula grows quickly and is easy to care for.
Arugula contains significantly more nitrates than other types of lettuce. (Photo: CC0/Pixabay/ChrRei1985)

In addition to spinach and arugula, other salads tend to have high levels of nitrate, as do beets, fennel or rhubarb. Nitrate is also found in drinking water in varying concentrations. The nitrate content depends on several factors, for example the amount of light the plant was exposed to during growth. If you blanch spinach, some of the nitrate passes into the blanching water. In this way, the content of food can be reduced.

So it’s hard to say how much is too much. With a view to Arugula – which contains on average more than twice as much nitrate as other types of lettuce – writes the BfR:

“The consumption of more than 25 g of arugula per day (average nitrate content of 4,252 mg/kg) in addition to the average consumption of all important food groups in terms of nitrate results in ADI having been exceeded”.

IDE means “acceptable daily intake”that is, the amount that you can consume every day for your entire life without fear of health risks.

A proven home remedy for digestive problems: flaxseed.
Flaxseed wins points with a good proportion of fatty acids. However, you should only eat them in moderation. (Photo: CC0/Pixabay/Pezibear)

Flaxseed is considered a local superfood – although supermarket products are often imported. In addition to a host of healthy micronutrients, the reason for its good reputation is the advantageous ratio of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. So that the body can absorb them, it is useful to crush the seeds before consumption. More about this here:

However, there is also a maximum recommended daily amount for flaxseed – and it is not that high. Per meal According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment, it should maximum 15 grams to be. The reason for this is the natural cyanide content of flaxseed.

Cyanide is the salt of… hydrocyanic acid. This is released when some plants are consumed. Bitter apricot kernels and cassava have a comparatively high cyanide content. Hydrocyanic acid can occur in humans severe poisoning symptoms cause – in the worst case, even death.

The way the body reacts to hydrogen cyanide depends not only on the dose, but also on an enzyme, ß-glucosidase. According to the BfR, consuming flaxseed is harmless to your health, as long as you follow the recommendation of a maximum of 15 grams per meal.

The Bavarian State Office for Health and Food Safety also points out that hydrogen cyanide evaporates if foods containing cyanide are heated sufficiently. Consequently, hydrocyanic acid has a Boiling point of 26 degrees Celsius. Many flaxseed packages also contain a note saying that the seeds should not be consumed raw. You can read more about it here: Don’t eat raw flaxseeds? What is the warning about?

Another BfR recommendation: Maximum 20 grams per day Linseed. The reason for this is another substance that can harm the body: cadmium. This heavy metal enters the environment in several ways; plants absorb it from the soil through their roots. Once in the body, cadmium accumulates in the kidneys and other organs.

Vegetarian carrot and cucumber sushi is sustainable and delicious.
There are several edible algae. Nori sheets are used for sushi. (Photo: CC0/Pixabay/Robert-Owen-Wahl)

Algae contain several nutrients. One of them is iodine. This makes seaweed particularly popular among some vegans who exclude other sources of iodine such as fish, eggs and dairy products from their diet. Iodine is an important trace element to regulate the thyroid gland, at the same time Germany is considered an iodine-deficient area. This is why table salt in this country is often enriched with iodine. Seaweed can be another vegan source to meet your iodine needs.

However, iodine can also cause harm if consumed in excess. The problem with algae: the iodine content can vary greatly and the safe intake level for products with high iodine concentration can be quickly overcome. The consumer advice center criticizes the fact that some algae-based products do not contain sufficient warnings and information about the iodine content. The iodine content in dried seaweed can vary between 5 and 11,000 milligrams per kilogram.

The DGE recommends a daily iodine intake for adults in Germany 180-200 micrograms, depending on age. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should consume more iodine. The BfR estimates the maximum amount of food you should consume per day 500 micrograms.

On a Calculation example The BfR shows how quickly a critical iodine intake can be achieved through seaweed: if you consume just 10 grams of seaweed from a product that contains 506 milligrams of iodine per kilogram, “there is already an excess iodine intake” that exceeds the maximum recommended daily amount ten times.

This is why it is best to only consume seaweed in moderation. Even better (if you make them yourself): Only eat seaweed whose iodine content is indicated on the packaging. The BfR advises against seaweed products with an iodine content of 20 mg/kg or more.

Please read our health information.

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