There are number of foods that are dangerous to your health and this is a large topic unto itself. Let’s start with the hard stone in the center of a cherry for example. It is full of prussic acid, also known as cyanide, a substance we all know is poisonous. But there’s really no need to be upset, because if you swallow a cherry pit they just pass through your system and out the other end. You must avoid crunching or crushing cherry pits as you nosh on cherries to avoid poisoning yourself.

Appleseed’s also have cyanide in them, so eating a handful as a snack is not smart. Appleseed’s have a protective coating on them that keeps the cyanide from entering your system if you accidentally eat the seeds. It’s good to be cautious because cyanide can cause rapid breathing, seizures, and possibly death.

Another poisonous substance is Elderberry. Elderberry is a syrup or supplement which is often given in health food stores to boost your immune system and treat cold, flu symptoms, or constipation. I’ve even heard of people having Elderberry as a supplement to ward off the COVID19 virus. However, eating unripe berries, bark, or leaves of Elderberry may leave you feeling worse instead of better. They contain cyanide as well as lectin, two chemicals that can cause nausea vomiting and diarrhea.

Nutmeg gives you a nice nutty flavor when you add it to baked goods. But eaten by the spoonful can cause big problems for your system. As little as 2 teaspoons can be toxic to your body because of something called myristicin an oil that can cause hallucinations, drowsiness, dizziness, confusion, and seizures.

The leaves sprouts and underground stems of potatoes contain a substance called glycoalkaloid. These are the things that make the potato look green when it’s exposed to light, gets damaged, or ages. Eating potatoes with a high glycoalkaloid content causes nausea, diarrhea, confusion, headaches, and death.

All of us have heard that beans are not that healthy at times. Raw kidney beans have the highest concentration of lectins. Lectins are a toxin that can give you a bad stomach ache, make you vomit, and give you diarrhea. It only takes 4-5 raw kidney beans to cause these side effects, which is why it’s best to boil your beans before eating them.

One of my favorite pies is rhubarb and prepared the proper way, it is very safe. But rhubarb leaves contain oxalic acid, which binds to calcium and makes it harder for your body to absorb it. In turn your bones can’t grow the way they should and you’re at risk for kidney stones, blood clotting problems, vomiting, diarrhea, and coma. Oxalic acid is also a cause of significant arthritis in a condition called hyper oxalosis. A really potent source of oxalic acid is spinach, which is something we avoid when a patient has the hyper oxalosis condition.

think I’ll end with something everyone likes to munch on, cashews. The ones you get in stores with a “raw” label aren’t exactly that. Because before they hit shelves they are steamed to remove a toxin called urushiol found in their shells. Urushiol is the same toxin you find in poison ivy. So eating pre- steamed cashews causes an allergic reaction that can be fatal if your allergies are severe.

What are some foods that increase blood flow and truly beneficial?

While were on foods, let’s talk about some of the good things that foods do. One of the good things that foods do is to increase your circulation. I’m talking about the circulation of blood and consequently the function of your heart. Healthy habits include regular exercise, staying well hydrated by drinking a lot of water (especially now in the summer), maintaining your weight as healthy as possible, and avoid smoking and large amounts of alcohol. All of this inclusive of a healthy diet and good habits decrease the risk of something called deep vein thrombosis which are clots in your legs, better known as DVTs. So it’s good once in a while to choose foods at the grocery store that will make your heart and blood vessels “ happy”.

Beets are root vegetables rich in nitrate, a compound your body converts to nitric oxide. Nitric oxide helps widen blood vessels and increases blood flow to all of your body. Some researchers found that beet juice decreases the systolic blood pressure which is the first number of the blood pressure reading. It’s usually the number on top, the systolic blood pressure. If your blood pressure is 120/80, it’s the 120 that’s the systolic number.

Cayenne red pepper is an orange red spice that can also boost blood flow. A compound called capsaicin in the red pepper relaxes muscles in the blood vessels. I have also used capsaicin to treat patients with arthritis because it is like paprika and placed on a sore joint in the form of a salve, can remove a lot of pain.

Berries are very helpful because they’re rich in a compound called anthocyanin which is an antioxidant responsible for the red and purple hues of berries. Anthocyanin protects the walls of arteries and keeps blood vessels flexible. It also stimulates the release of nitric oxide to lower blood pressure.

Most people know that fish is a heart healthy food, but they don’t know why. Certain fish, salmon, herring, mackerel, trout, and halibut, are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. These healthy fats boost circulation and lower resting blood pressure. Fatty fish is among the foods that increase blood flow and keep arteries unclogged. That’s why sushi and sashimi is so good for your circulation.

Tart pomegranate seeds are rich in nitrates and antioxidants that boost circulation. These compounds keep arteries wide open, dilated, and lower your blood pressure. So, you get better blood flow to your brain, heart, muscles, organs and tissues. Athletes with pomegranate seeds notice that increase blood flow boosts performance as well. I am not sure about the effects of pomegranate juice, but I suspect that there is an effect as well.

Finally, there is garlic. People who eat ample amounts of garlic experience improve blood flow throughout their heart and blood vessels. Unfortunately eating garlic as a daily routine is not conducive to good breath and close company. But the compound is definitely a winner as far as your circulation and heart function goes. I can tell you that garlic will lower your blood pressure the natural way and is often a good addition to your lifestyle.

And now a few words about COVID19.

It’s clear that the virus is spreading throughout the country and the numbers of those infected are very high, in the hundreds of thousands. The death toll is also extraordinary in each state. By the time this article comes out in the August edition of the Saddle River magazine, more people will have succumbed to this terrible pandemic. I am sure that we will have to wear masks and keep social distancing until we have a vaccine. I am cautiously optimistic, as is Dr Fauci the director of the NIAID, that we will have a vaccine by January or February 2021. I hope that everyone continues to wear a mask and keeps socially distant. Stay out of crowds in closed spaces and wash your hands with frequency.

For questions: my website or follow me on twitter @drlahita or @drmedicalfact.