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Zucchini poisoning

Whether zucchini cake, zucchini on the grill or gratinated zucchini - we love green vegetables in summer. And zucchini don't just taste good, Zucchini are also very healthy. You are rich in calcium, magnesium, iron, B vitamins, Vitamin A and vitamin C. Many grow zucchini themselves in the garden. Zucchini are also one of the most popular and most eaten vegetables in Germany. But the vegetables may also contain the toxin cucurbitacin.

Cucurbitacins are bitter substances, which often in cucumbers and cucurbits occurrence. These bitter substances can:

  • nausea
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Vomit
  • Diarrheal diseases,
  • intestinal damage if large amounts are consumed

trigger. Home-grown zucchini crossed with other pumpkins harbor the risk of containing a high proportion of cucurbitacin.

Be careful when gardening

Cucurbitacine is bred from modern edible pumpkins, such as the zucchini - but if you plant your zucchini near ornamental pumpkins, you can risk that the bitter substance comes back into the vegetables through backcrossing. If you plant zucchini, you should keep it away from pumpkins. Because the newly obtained seeds could be a "wild" cross, which has a high proportion of cucurbitacins.

If you want to be absolutely sure, it is best to buy new seeds in stores and not transplant the seeds you have gained. If the summer is very hot, the plants may develop an increased proportion of cucurbitacine during stress.

How do you recognize “poisonous” zucchini?

Bitter is dangerous! If the zucchini tastes bitter or has a strong smell when you eat it, you shouldn't eat it at all. If the zucchini tastes sweet and neutral, then it is harmless and can be eaten carefree. Cucurbitacine is heat-resistant, i.e. the bitter substance is retained even when cooking.

From the outside it is very difficult to decide whether a zucchini is “good” or “bad”: A domesticated zucchini has a smooth, shiny skin. If the zucchini looks more like a pumpkin, you should exercise caution.

Ate zucchini, now I'm sick! What to do?

To put it simply: as soon as possible medical help seek! The University Medical Center Berlin offers a good list of poisoning emergency numbers in Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

Normally, however, the zucchini tastes so bitter that it becomes inedible. It only becomes dangerous if you eat them anyway. This was the undoing of a German pensioner in the summer of 2015. However, this is the only known case in Germany where zucchini poisoning had fatal consequences. So listen to your sense of taste!

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