Edible flowers used by chefs and even have cookbooks dedicated to them may cause everything from heart disease to cancer, research suggests.
A study found that eating 16 out of 23 flowers that are particularly popular in Nordic cuisine can seriously damage a person’s health.
For example, yarrow, which is often made into a tea or added to salads, contains the toxin thujone – also found in absinthe.
And the popular floral cake decorations borage and Viper’s bugloss are made up of pyrrolizidine alkaloids, which have been linked to cancer and liver damage.
Below, MailOnline names the 16 flowers, from Heart’s ease to Viper’s bugloss, and reveals the deadly damage they may be doing to your health.
Researchers from the National Food Institute and the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration visited 150 restaurants and local food producers between May and October 2016.
They investigated the use of plants that were either picked in the wild, or from private gardens or markets.
Twenty-three plants were identified as commonly being used in Nordic cuisine.
Of these, results suggested nine contain known toxic compounds, two are made up of unidentified toxic substances and the remainder are flowers that came from plants with toxic compounds.
These substances were considered toxic based on previous research demonstrating their damaging effects on humans, farm animals, pets or in laboratory studies.
Legislation states plants that have not been consumed ‘to a signiﬁcant degree by humans in the EU before 15 May 1997’ must be tested for safety before being marketed as food.
Those used before this date are assumed to be safe.
Due to the limited amount of data available, the researchers, led by food scientist Mikael Mandrup Egebjerg, were unable to set a safe limit of consumption for the flowers in their study.
Writing in the journal Food and Chemical Toxicology, they note flowers used as cake decorations may not be consumed in sufficient quantities to cause toxicities.
But the researchers also stress other plants may be similarly toxic to those mentioned below, but studies into these substances are too sparse to draw any conclusions on their safety.
‘A lack of botanical knowledge and the assumption that everything natural possesses no risk is a dangerous cocktail when harvesting wild plants’, the authors wrote.
‘This review has revealed a strong need for better information on novel food status and [the] safety of ﬂowers picked from the wild so that food producers, chefs and writers of cookbooks not only focus on taste, food texture and beauty but also have a stronger attention on whether the ﬂowers are safe to eat.’