Did you know there are healthy foods that are dangerous when eaten in large amounts? I have always known that you can have too much of a good thing. I certainly experienced a tummy ache from eating too much Halloween candy as a kid, but that is understandable because candy isn’t healthy, it just tastes good. However, health food stars - like turmeric and cruciferous vegetables - are healthy foods that are dangerous to your health when eaten in too large of a quantity.
Turmeric seems like a miracle spice. It has powerful anti-inflammatory properties, has compounds that may prevent and treat cancer, and has the ability to decrease signs of aging. Yet, despite these benefits it is still one of the healthy foods that are dangerous in large amounts. Turmeric contains oxalates, which can cause painful kidney stones. The amount of oxalates in turmeric is high enough that just 3 grams or roughly 1 teaspoon is considered too much turmeric! So, even though it may seem like consuming a lot of turmeric is a good thing, a little bit goes a long way.
Nutmeg is a great spice to use, especially during the holidays. A little nutmeg sprinkled on some eggnog can be very tasty. The key is to just use a little. Nutmeg has a very powerful compound called euganol, which fights bacteria, fungus, yeast, and viruses. However, the euganol in nutmeg is so strong that consuming 2 to 3 teaspoons can be fatal! Knowing this, I am going to stick to a sprinkle of nutmeg.
I can’t think of the last time I used tarragon, but I know it is used a fair amount in French cuisine. Tarragon has wonderful antioxidants, can aid digestion, and even help a toothache. Despite these healthy attributes, the estragole in tarragon can damage DNA leading to cancer. Scientists have not yet determined the exact dose that is dangerous, so using only a little tarragon is recommended. I don’t think it should be too difficult to limit tarragon use because to my knowledge it is an herb that is used in small amounts.
By now the health benefits of tea are well known. All types of tea have antioxidants, green tea is touted as a weight loss aid, and herbal teas can help everything from sleep to digestion. Yet, scientists have suggested limiting tea to 10 cups a day. Why is there a limit? Tea contains fluoride, and in large amounts fluoride can harm thyroid function, cause heart arrhythmias, and interferes with calcium absorption!
Seaweed is rich in minerals, especially iodine which is a necessary mineral for thyroid function. If you stay away from iodized salt, eating seaweed is a wonderful way to get iodine in your diet. Just don’t eat too much seaweed! The recommended intake of iodine is 150 mcg a day, and the upper limit for adults is 1000 mcg a day. It is very easy to surpass the upper limit with seaweed because just ¼ gram of kelp has too much iodine and 1 package of dulse has more than 1 month’s worth of iodine! So, limit seaweed to just a little bit, and stay away from hiziki/hijiki seaweed since it soaks up the arsenic from the ocean!
Broccoli sprouts are a great spicy addition to salads and they have remarkable health benefits, including cancer fighting properties. The wonderful nutrition of broccoli sprouts comes from the fact that they are essentially concentrated broccoli. However, this concentration is part of the reason they are dangerous in large amounts. Broccoli sprouts contain sulphoraphane, which in large enough amounts can actually damage DNA and cause cancer. 4 cups of broccoli sprouts is considered to be too much and can cause problems. I doubt anyone would eat that much, but it is good to know these sprouts shouldn’t be piled high on a salad.
Cruciferous vegetables are great cancer fighters and include broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens, and kale among others. In their raw state these vegetables have goitrogenic compounds that can cause a goiter in the thyroid. How much is too much depends on the raw cruciferous vegetable you are eating. It would take 15 cups of bok choy to reach an unsafe amount, but it would only take 3 cups of mustard greens! It would seem impossible to reach an unsafe level, but with the popularity of greens and green smoothies you never know!
Clearly, it is possible to overdose on healthy foods to the point where they become dangerous. I don’t think I would ever eat 2 teaspoons of nutmeg or 15 cups of broccoli sprouts, but it would be very possible to eat more than ¼ gram of dulse. I knew when I ate too much candy as a kid it was a bad thing to do, and now I know that as an adult I can even eat too many mustard greens! Are any of these healthy foods foods you eat a lot? Do you know of any other healthy foods that are dangerous in large amounts?
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