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Are There Raw Foods We Should Avoid?

Is there some fruits and vegetables you should avoid, or are they all good for you? The surprising answer is that some vegetables are actually toxic. One of them is buckwheat sprouts. In the article below, you’ll understand why buckwheat sprouts should be avoided. Then, I’ll review some other fruits and vegetables we should watch for.

Are Buckwheat Greens Toxic?
By Gilles Arbour

The surprising answer is a clear and unequivocal YES. Due to the growing popularity of sprouts, in general, and a widespread ignorance as to the toxic dangers posed by buckwheat greens, specifically, many people are today suffering unnecessarily.

The basic problem with buckwheat greens is that they contain fagopyrin, a naturally occurring substance in the buckwheat plant. When ingested in sufficient quantity, fagopyrin is known to cause the skin of animals and people to become phototoxic, which is to say hypersensitive to sunlight. This condition, specifically known as fagopyrism, occurs when the ingested fagopyrin accumulates under the skin and is subsequently activated by sunlight, resulting in a toxic reaction within the skin. Typically, exposed areas of skin turn pink or red within minutes and a strong burning sensation accompanies the reaction. Within a few hours, the exposed areas usually appear to return to normal, however, continue to remain ultra-sensitive to cold water, hot water, and to friction. This sensitivity can last for days.

In addition to the burning sensation, people suffering from fagopyrism often complain of feeling a numb, fuzzy, and buzzing impression when they scratch or inadvertently hit their hands on something. Sufferers also report that their hands feel painfully cold when placed in cold water or when in contact with a cold object, even if only for a few seconds. Some have had numbing, itching, and tickling on the face, nose, and ears after sun exposure thus causing a desire to scratch the skin, thereby worsening the condition. The eyes may also become hypersensitive to light. If a large enough portion of the skin is exposed, one may experience dizziness. If a person is forced to remain in the sun for a long period of time, the skin may swell up and remain abnormal for up to several days.

You can read the whole article at

Other “Dangerous” Raw Foods

Generally, fruits are not to be feared. They are much less likely to contain toxic components. We have to be careful with some vegetables, and also some rare fruits, including:

Spinach & Other Greens Rich In Oxalic Acids — Spinach is a healthy food, but it contains a good quantity of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid, a chemical found in many plants. This substance binds with calcium to form calcium oxalate, an insoluble salt. Too much oxalic acid, in spinach for example, can be detrimental.

Here’s a useful table:

HIGH OXALIC ACID CONTENT (Be careful with those, don’t eat in large quantities):
Lambsquarters, beet leaves, purslane leaves, spinach, swiss chard (leaves & stalks), rhubarb, parsley, amaranth leaves, sorrel.

Dandelion greens, most fruits, kale, watercress, escarole, mustard greens, turnip greens, kale, broccoli, tomatoes, asparagus, cabbage, and most greens not mentioned.

– Wild Mushrooms — It goes without saying that some wild mushrooms are extremely toxic.

– Acidic Fruits — Acidic fruits are not “toxic” per se, but the high acidity can be a problem when those fruits are consumed regularly and in large quantities. The problems come from the fact that the fruits are picked too green, and therefore contain much more acidity than they would if they had ripened on the plant. Some foods to watch out for include:

– Oranges
– Pineapple
– Tomatoes (yes!, a lot of people eat too many of those!)
– Grapefruit
– Lemons

It’s not a good idea to eat lemons, as some people do, or drink liters of freshly-squeezed orange juice. The best way to consume these fruits are as part of a smoothie or salad that includes other, less acidic fruits (such as pears, apples, etc.)

Strong Herbs — Typically, anything that tastes bitter or strong has some toxin in it. If you can’t eat it on its own, you should watch out and only use a little.

Wild Greens —  There’s a lot of tasty wild greens out there, but I wouldn’t recommend to pick them in massive quantities and adding them to your smoothies. These greens are much too strong to be eaten that way. Only use the edible varities and only have a small quantity at a time.

That covers it… Don’t be “afraid” of fruits and vegetables. They are all very good for you. But just be aware of the few ones we should consume with more caution.

Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude
Frederic Patenaude has been an important influence in the raw food and natural health movement since he started writing and publishing in 1998, first by being the editor of Just Eat an Apple magazine. He is the author of over 20 books, including The Raw Secrets, the Sunfood Cuisine and Raw Food Controversies. Since 2013 he’s been the Editor-in-Chief of Renegade Health.

Frederic loves to relentlessly debunk nutritional myths. He advocates a low-fat, plant-based diet and has had over 10 years of experience with raw vegan diets. He lives in Montreal, Canada.