For those who hate eating their vegetables, it’s easy to imagine that they’re actually toxic plants masquerading as food.
This includes veggies in the Cucurbitaceae family also called cucurbits or gourds (see gallery of family members below), which contain a class of poisons called cucurbitacins.
The toxic steroids are among the most bitter-tasting compounds biochemists have ever come across and, in the plants, they function as a defense against herbivores.
As such, consumers can occasionally come across super bitter gourds—and suffer what some researchers call toxic squash syndrome if they eat them.
Of those, more than 50 percent were due to squash consumed from a grocery store.
When it does happen, toxic squash syndrome is usually marked by diarrhea (sometimes bloody), vomiting, and abdominal pain, which can sometimes lead to dehydration, low blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, headaches, and vertigo.