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The zucchini comes from the pumpkin family and is a very popular food. They look similar to cucumbers, but there are huge differences in taste. In principle, zucchinis are not poisonous plants, they can also be eaten raw. However, this only applies under certain conditions.
Can zucchini be eaten raw?
Consuming the vegetable in its raw state is not only non-toxic, it is actually healthy. Zucchinis are very popular in salads, as raw vegetables or as a decorative side dish on the plate. It only becomes dangerous when there are bitter substances in the vegetables. These have toxic effects on humans and, in the worst case, can lead to death. The bitter taste of zucchini is caused by the bitter substance cucurbitacine, which greatly changes the taste of the vegetable.
Why is cucurbitacine poisonous?
Cucurbitacins are protective substances that are developed by pumpkin plants to protect themselves from predators. Zucchinis that are grown in the garden are usually harmless because the protective substances have been bred away. However, it is possible that bitter substances are formed due to intense heat radiation or drought stress, as well as late harvesting. These are then stored in the plant cells and are preserved.
The ornamental gourd also contains a large amount of bitter substances, which is why the pretty fruit must not be eaten.
What are the effects of eating bitter zucchinis?
As a rule, the healthy sense of taste should react automatically to the strongly bitter taste of a poisonous zucchini. However, depending on the preparation, spices and sauces can mask this taste and this can lead to the involuntary consumption of larger quantities. A small amount causes classic gastrointestinal symptoms reminiscent of food poisoning.
- severe abdominal pain
- Mucosal damage in the stomach and intestines
However, there was a case in Germany where a person died after eating a bitter zucchini plant. The circulatory system was unable to eliminate the symptoms of intoxication. It must be said that the affected man consumed large quantities of the bitter vegetable without paying attention to his sense of taste.
What to do after eating bitter zucchini
If large amounts of the bitter vegetable have been consumed, medical advice is essential. There is a risk of severe symptoms of poisoning, which initially only affect the gastrointestinal tract and later the entire organ system. These measures should apply to young children, pets and adults alike. A phone call to the poison control center can provide the first indication of the right contact point.
In case of doubt, however, a visit to the medical on-call service for humans and animals is recommended. Even small amounts of poisonous zucchini can lead to severe symptoms, especially in dogs and cats.
Are All Zucchinis Poisonous?
In principle, zucchinis are not poisonous plants, but plants suitable for consumption. Caution should only be exercised if the vegetables taste bitter. Otherwise, all parts of the zucchini are edible, including the flowers. After the tragic death from poisoning, panic attacks were carried out in front of home-grown plants. However, if you taste a small piece of the vegetable before preparing it and find that it doesn't have a bitter aftertaste, you can eat the zucchini without hesitation.
How toxic are zucchinis to animals?
The beloved four-legged friends often react with symptoms of poisoning to the consumption of plants that are non-toxic to humans. However, courgettes do not pose any danger to cats, dogs or small animals. According to the nutritional tables for rabbits and guinea pigs, courgettes are even popular with small rodents. But here too, the vegetables should first be checked for bitterness. Although many animals automatically reject the vegetable if it tastes bitter, there is no guarantee of this. The consumption of blossoms and leaves is harmless, in the human diet they are even prepared as a salad.
How is the poisoning treated?
Treatment of cucurbitacin poisoning is limited to symptom relief. Affected people with poor circulation are usually monitored in hospital for some time. This gives the doctor better opportunities to react to a possible circulatory failure. Medicinal charcoal is administered against severe diarrhea and is also suitable for binding poisons.
In animals, symptomatic treatment is also indicated. A stay in a veterinary clinic is only necessary in the case of severe symptoms. The first symptom in animals is almost always profuse salivation. The earlier the animal comes to the doctor, the better the full picture of cucurbitacin poisoning can be counteracted. Extremely small amounts of zucchini eaten may not require any action if ingested by a healthy adult.