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Steer clear of green tomatoes

Juicy, plump, deliciously aromatic – tomatoes are at their best during the summer months. That is when the sun-ripened fruit have developed their full aroma. In the event that you find an unripe green tomato in your home harvest, make sure that you put it aside for the time being. Unripe fruit are unsuitable for consumption, because the solanine they contain is poisonous. Solanine is a natural compound that occurs predominantly in green parts of a plant such as leaves and stalks. It serves the plant as a natural defence against pathogens. It also inhibits the growth of bacteria and moulds.

Solanine: a special risk to children

The dose makes the poison – that also goes for solanine. Toxic effects occur from a concentration of 1 mg per kg of bodyweight; the deadly dose lies between 3 and 6 mg per kg of bodyweight. This puts children at a special risk. Unripe tomatoes were found to contain between 9 und 30 mg of solanine per 100 g. A three-year old girl weighing 15 kg can theoretically show symptoms of poisoning after eating just one small unripe tomato.


Typical symptoms of poisoning

Typical symptoms following excessive consumption of solanine are headaches and stomach pains, nausea, vomiting as well as scratching and burning in the throat. In severe cases the circulation and breathing may be impaired or the central nervous system damaged, resulting in cramps and paralysis. So the message is: don't eat unripe green tomatoes – and that includes any sauces made with them and sweet-sour pickled green tomatoes.


Source: Dr. Claudia Müller, www.aid.de