We often hear the phrase “too much of a good thing” and assume that it means moderation is key. However, when it comes to certain healthy foods, consuming too much of them can actually be harmful to our health. According to dietitians and food scientists, there are certain healthy foods that, while great for us in moderation, can have negative side effects if we consume too much of them. Some side effects may be uncomfortable or awkward, while others can be fatal.
One food that can be harmful if consumed in excess is carrots. Carrots are prized for their high levels of beta-carotene, which is important for maintaining good vision and boosting the immune system. However, consuming too many carrots can lead to a condition called carotenemia, where there is too much beta-carotene in the blood, causing the skin to turn orange. While this may look shocking, it is not harmful to your health. To reach a level of beta-carotene that would cause this condition, you would need to consume 20-50 milligrams of beta-carotene every day, which is equivalent to 10 carrots.
Another food that can be harmful if consumed in excess is bananas. Bananas are often praised for their heart-healthy benefits due to their high potassium content. However, consuming too many bananas can be detrimental, especially for people with kidney damage. Excessive potassium in the blood can become dangerous or even fatal. Additionally, bananas contain sorbitol, a sugar alcohol that can cause gas, bloating, and diarrhea in large amounts. So while a banana a day is still a great idea, three in one afternoon might not be advisable.
Water, an essential nutrient for our bodies, also has a healthy limit. Consuming too much water can lead to hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance where sodium levels in the body are too low. Sodium is essential for balancing fluid in and out of cells, and not enough sodium can lead to a dangerous health situation. According to a 2013 study, the maximum amount of water our body can process in one hour is 800-1,000 milliliters, or 27-33 ounces. Consuming more than this amount can put us at risk of hyponatremia.
Tuna, while high in Vitamin B12 and omega-3 fatty acids, also contains high levels of mercury, specifically methylmercury. Consuming too much mercury can be harmful to the brain and nervous system. The FDA recommends consuming albacore/white tuna and yellowfin tuna only once a week and opting for seafood that is lower in mercury, such as shrimp or salmon, the rest of the time.
Brazil nuts, despite their health benefits, can also be harmful if consumed in excess. They contain high amounts of selenium, which helps improve thyroid function and boost the immune system. However, consuming too much selenium can be toxic. A single brazil nut contains nearly twice the daily recommended dose of selenium for adults. Excessive intake of selenium can cause a variety of health problems, including gastrointestinal and neurological symptoms and even a heart attack.
The moral of the story is that all things should be consumed in moderation. Munching on a few carrot sticks a day won’t turn your skin orange, and enjoying a banana as an afternoon snack won’t give you a stomachache. Even including a single brazil nut in your diet can be beneficial. However, it’s important not to overdo it and to be mindful of the potential negative side effects. So, yes, too much of a good thing when it comes to certain healthy foods can be a bad thing.