Deadly Diets

By BLAIR WEISINGER

Humans love food, simple as that. Oddly enough, we are also creatures that like to indulge in risk. Through the countless ways different cultures have found to get calories and tickle their taste buds, there’s a handful of dishes that are potentially perilous to our health. Here’s a round-up of the most deadly and dangerous dishes from every corner of our strange world.

Pagpag, Fresh From The Trash: As a testament to the shocking levels of poverty in the Philippine capital Manila, “pagpag” is a term used to describe street food that’s been salvaged from the trash, washed, and re-fried in hot oil. The word pagpag translates from Tagalog to literally mean “shake off the dust or dirt”. Small businesses collect the food, which consists of stuff from landfill sites and garbage cans, discarded fast food, and expired frozen food discharged from supermarkets. Needless to say, the practice has been linked to a whole host of communicable diseases, including cholera, hepatitis A, and typhoid. However, faced with no other option, pagpag remains a common practice across the country’s poorest corners.

Absinthe: A favorite drink among arty types and bohemians in 19th-century Europe, absinthe has a legendary status for its alcoholic strength and its supposed psychedelic properties. In years gone by, the licorice-flavored drink was closely associated with hallucinations, seizures, mental illness, psychosis, and all kinds of social problem. Some scientific studies have thrown cold water on that idea, suggesting that these side effects are merely the result of alcoholism. However, other scientific research suggests these effects could be linked to alpha-thujone, a neuron that works on the same brain receptor responsible for a form of epilepsy.

Starfruit: Starfruit, aka carambola, is yet another widely eaten plant with a deadly secret. This time around it’s a neurotoxin called caramboxin. If you’re relatively healthy, your body should be able to break down any reasonable level of caramboxin. However, if you have kidney problems, a glass of its juice could be enough to leave you with “star fruit intoxication”, a condition that could leave you with vomiting, numbness of limbs, decreased muscle power, twitching of muscles, confusion, and convulsions.