Most Dangerous Foods You Didn't Know Could Kill You

15 Most Dangerous Foods You Didn’t Know Could Kill You

5. Rhubarb Leaves

Photo Credit: Natalia Bulatova/Shutterstock

Rhubarb is a plant that is tolerant of cold climates. It is found in temperate and mountainous regions of the world, such as Northeast Asia.

The species Rheum hybridum is grown extensively as a food crop across Europe in addition to North America.

Though rhubarb’s botanically classified as a vegetable however, it’s classified as a fruit in the United States

It has long, fibrous stalks that vary between dark red and pale green. They are usually chopped and then cooked with sugar because of their sweet taste.

In addition, its huge dark green leaves appear similar to spinach, and are generally not eaten because of fears of their poisonous or inedible.

Rhubarb leaves are regarded as inedible due to their high level of the acid oxalic. In reality, both leaves and the stalks contain Oxalic acid, however the leaves contain a greater amount.

Oxalic acid is a naturally occurring chemical found in a variety of plants, such as leafy greens as well as fruits and vegetables seeds, nuts, and cocoa.

Rhubarb has 570-1,900 milligrams of oxalate in 3.5 pounds (100 grams). The leaves are the highest source of Oxalate, which is 0.5-1.0 percent of the leaves.

A high level of oxalate in your body may cause the condition called hyperoxaluria. It is the process where excess oxalate gets eliminated in urine. It can also cause an accumulation of calcium oxide crystals in organs.

The kidneys are the organ where this could cause stone formation in the kidneys, and eventually, kidney failure.

Signs of mild rhubarb leaves poisoning can include diarrhea and vomiting, which resolves within a couple of hours. The more serious toxicity of oxalate causes sore throat, trouble swallowing, nausea as well as vomiting (sometimes with blood) along with diarrhea and abdominal discomfort.

Extremely serious symptoms include the kidneys failing, numbness, muscles twitching, and cramps.

There are very few cases of nonfatal or fatal poisoning resulting from eating the leaves of rhubarb.

The reported average lethal dose for oxalate is 170 mg per kilogram (375 mg per kilogram) of body weight. This is about 26.3 grams for an 150-pound (70-kg) individual.

The result is that one would need to consume between 5.7-11.7 pounds (2.6-5.3 kg) of rhubarb leaf for an extremely lethal dose of oxalate, based on the amount of oxalate present within the leaves.

However, fatal amounts are also reported in low intakes.

In World War I, people were instructed to eat the leaves of rhubarb as an alternative to vegetables that were available at the moment, leading to reports of several deaths and poisonings.

There were reports of poisonings occurring in the 1960s. However, since it’s extremely uncommon to consume the leaves of rhubarb, there have been no instances of deaths resulting from the leaves of rhubarb from more recent time.

There are instances of people suffering kidney damage by eating high quantities of rhubarb’s stems, which also contain oxalic acid.

Furthermore, some individuals are more prone to developing kidney stones and damage to the kidneys due to Oxalates.

This includes those with specific genetic diseases and those who suffer from kidney disease and a high vitamin-C intake or vitamin B6 deficiencies.

It is also thought that fatal and nonfatal rhubarb leaves poisoning could be caused by a different substance called anthraquinone glycosides – and not the oxalic acid. But, further research is required.

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