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View Full Version : Lima Beans..cyanide compounds and death


OliverTwistofLime
08-14-2005, 04:44 AM
In California, Lima beans are usually obtainable in the frozen food dept. and very uncommonly seen in the fresh produce areas. In reading about these beans, many varities are loaded with cyanide compounds and require cooking to reduce these compounds to non-toxic levels.

Can anyone in Straight Dope land provide any information on the approximate number of deaths that occur from the consumption of Lima beans not fully cooked? in the world at large and then in the US?

uglybeech
08-14-2005, 05:09 AM
Does this include kidney beans? Cause I was going to try to start feeding some to my parrot.

OliverTwistofLime
08-14-2005, 08:27 AM
Does this include kidney beans? Cause I was going to try to start feeding some to my parrot.


Not that I know of.

Ferret Herder
08-14-2005, 08:42 AM
Googling produces (http://www.atsdr.cdc.gov/toxprofiles/phs8.html):
In certain plant foods, including almonds, millet sprouts, lima beans, soy, spinach, bamboo shoots, and cassava roots (which are a major source of food in tropical countries), cyanides occur naturally as part of sugars or other naturally-occurring compounds. However, the edible parts of plants that are eaten in the United States, including tapioca which is made from cassava roots, contain relatively low amounts of cyanide.

and... (http://www.foodreference.com/html/flimabeans.html)
Lima beans contain cyanide compounds, which is why many countries, including the U.S., restrict commercially grown varieties to those with very low cyanogen levels. The lima beans grown in Java and Burma have 20 to 30 times the concentration allowed in most Western countries. They must be cooked thoroughly to allow the hydrogen cyanide gas produced to be driven off.
So don't eat any strange foreign lima beans raw, and you should be fine.

Ferret Herder
08-14-2005, 08:45 AM
Ugh, posting pre-caffeinated - I hit return before saying I hadn't found anything definitive on death rates due to semi-cooked beans, but that it would be difficult to get accurate numbers due to location in some cases, and that it seems that you're probably safe in the US and various other countries anyway. IIRC, things like apricot pits and... apple seeds? also contain cyanide-based chemicals.

PBear42
08-14-2005, 11:53 AM
Yup, cyanide in apple seeds (http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/apples.asp), though in very small amounts and almost always harmless.

kniz
08-14-2005, 02:53 PM
:eek: bamboo shoots!
No wonder the Pandas are almost extinct.

OliverTwistofLime
08-14-2005, 06:19 PM
Yup, cyanide in apple seeds (http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/apples.asp), though in very small amounts and almost always harmless.


The article is worth reading: Zyklon B used by the Nazis in WW!! was utilized big time as we all know. A similar situation could easily repeat itself in different ways.

Reading the article would be quite beneficial in time of need.