Ghanaians do not joke with our food at all. A significant portion of our resources go into providing ourselves with good food.
However, some of foods we enjoy could be harmful to the body. Here are five examples:
1. Tuna (Poku)
Tuna fish is a delicacy across the country. Whether it is palm nut soup, groundnut soup or okro soup, tuna can make it taste good.
But the fish can host the poisonous chemical mercury which can be harmful to the body.
Tuna is unable to digest the mercury that it consumes from the river, so the compound could remain in its system even after it has been roasted.
That is why doctors advise pregnant women against eating tuna, because mothers can transfer the mercury to children while in the womb, leading to paralysis in unborn babies.
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Cassava is an important food in Ghana. Without it, it would be impossible to prepare fufu, which is the favourite of many people. It is also used to make garri.
If prepared incorrectly, cassava could produce cyanide, a deadly compound when consumed.
They are popularly known in Ghana as “Mmere”. When consumed they can cause people to hallucinate.
They can also kill. Varieties like the Death Cap, Destroying Angels and Deadly Webcap are highly poisonous and capable of inducing death.
4. Petre Salt (Kanwe)
In the preparation of soups and stews, salt petre, popularly known as “kanwu” in Ghana, is used as a thickening agent, especially when preparing Okro soup. It is also used to soften food and reduce cooking time when boiling beans and tough meat .
Salt petre is actually Potassium Nitrate, which is used in the production of gun powder, fertilizers etc.
It can be dangerous when consumed excessively.
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Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids, of which the most common are solanine and chaconine.
When exposed to sunlight, the concentration of solanine in them can increase.
Solanne is known to cause paralysis to the central nervous system that can lead to a respiratory failure.