You have probably heard that eating apple seeds can be dangerous. We take a look at why they might poison you, though it’s unlikely, and how much could harm you.
Apple seeds, like those of pears, apricots, peaches and cherries contain amygdalin, the main cyanogenic glycoside composed of cyanide and sugar.
When metabolized in the digestive system, amygdalin breaks down into hydrogen cyanide. Cyanide is highly acutely toxic to humans.
The exact amount of cyanide needed to poison someone depends on body weight. According to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the lethal cyanide dose is 0.5 to 3.5 mg per kilogram of body weight.
According to Medical News Today, a 2015 review indicates that the amygdalin content in 1 gram of apple seeds ranges from 1 to 4 milligrams. The amount of cyanide obtained from the seeds is much lower, they have the potential to release 0.6 mg of hydrogen cyanide per gram.
Amygdalin can be accessed if the seeds have been crushed or chewed. Eating some apple seeds is not a problem. But consuming large amounts of ground or crushed seeds could be fatal.
A person who consumes 83 to 500 apple seeds could develop acute cyanide poisoning. An average apple contains only five to eight seeds.
Unless someone eats more than ten apples with seeds and all, and these are thoroughly chewed, then they could be at risk of poisoning.
Swallowing some seeds intact without chewing or crushing is unlikely to cause any problems since the seed coat protects it from digestive enzymes, and the seeds can pass through the digestive system unharmed.
As a preventive measure, it is recommended to remove the seeds from apples before giving apples to small children or pets.
Cyanide prevents the body’s cells from using oxygen. With this, the cells die. Survivors of severe cyanide poisoning can suffer heart and brain damage as these organs use too much oxygen.