Wednesday, October 5, 2011

"They Actually Eat That:" Almonds?!

There are few things more disappointing than trying to go on a fancy diet and realizing that one ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL ingredient is preventing you from doing it. For me, that ingredient is almonds. They are in 90% of all protein bars, but I am allergic to them, so no vegetarianism for me.  Almonds can also be used to make vegan milk, high-protein butter for peanut allergy sufferers, and, of course, sweets like marzipan. Almonds are even mentioned in the Bible since they're native to Israel.

Almond lovers everywhere are probably saying, "OK. We know you're allergic. That doesn't mean you can deprive the rest of us of almonds." What the HELL are almonds, one of the most popular nuts in the world, doing in this column, anyways?

Weeeeeelllllllllllllllllll.... turns out almonds, peach pits and apple seeds are all sources of naturally-occurring cyanide. For those of you who do NOT read mystery novels, cyanide is one of the most popular poisons in murder cases. It's sneaky, quick, and the only way you will ever survive is if you call Poison Control within minutes. The final sign of cyanide poisoning is cardiac arrest, so if people suddenly start dying by heart attacks, start suspecting a mass cyanide poisoning. Or a Death Note, take your pick.

(From what the URL says.) Side-effects may include seeing goth-punk Grim Reapers that like apples. Hey, wait a minute...

Cyanides are simple, tightly-bonded molecules of carbon and nitrogen found in many edible plants, including almonds. Mind, it is in minute quantities, so nobody really notices...until they have something tasting slightly of almonds that is clearly not supposed to have that flavor. Then, of course, call medical staff as soon as possible. Things with even minor amounts of cyanide can still poison pets like dogs, so please do not share your trail mix with Fido.

Even if you successfully avoid almonds and their relatives, there is a chance you could get some cyanide in your diet. Exotic fish tend to be stunned and killed with cyanide, which in turn poisons their surrounding environment. Indonesia has the worst of the ocean's cyanide poisoning. Don't eat exotic fish - you don't know how they've been killed.

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