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Are Apple Seeds Really Poisonous?

Apples happen to be some of the healthiest fruits in the world and not only are they easily available, but also quite popular. Apples, rich in antioxidants, are easy to cultivate in a large scale across many parts of the world. The impressive health benefits of apples have indeed made them some of the best fruits to consume – be it just as a snack or health reasons. The large variety of apples available makes one spoilt for choice. While some species are good for juicing, others are best consumed fresh, and some apples are perfect for cooking and baking. Imagine biting into a juicy, crunchy apple and savoring the mix of sweet and tanginess, and spitting out those tiny black seeds at the fruit’s core. Interestingly, these innocent-looking apple seeds are poisonous. But don’t panic! Read on to find out exactly how apple seeds can be poisonous.

What is Cyanide?

As is widely known, cyanide is one of the earth’s deadliest poisons and has a long and dark history with its usage in wars and other heinous crimes. While cyanide is a chemical that must be processed before usage, many cyanoglycosides are naturally found as well. The most common examples of this are the seeds of stone fruits, such as cherries, plums, apricots, peaches, and of course, apples. Apple seeds consist of something known as amygdalin, a plant compound found in the seeds of most rose family fruits. Amygdalin releases cyanide on contact with the digestive enzymes in our body. When the seeds are chewed and digested, amygdalin reacts with the body and degrades into hydrogen cyanide, aka, poison. However, their hard outer shell and minuscule amount of amygdalin make it a rarity for someone to succumb to poison after accidentally swallowing an apple seed.

How it Works

According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention), an oral dose of 1 or 2 mg per kg of cyanide is fatal for someone weighing around 150lbs (approx. 70kg). A person would probably need to chew or ingest a fine powder of about 200-250 apple seeds at once for it to be to fatal which is highly unlikely as most of us barely eat one or two apples in a day. Cyanide may be fatal and exposure to it even in small doses can cause temporary or instant paralysis. It reacts within the body and interferes with the supply of oxygen between cells, leading to shut down of organs, coma, and eventual death. But that is quite impossible when eating an apple or other stone fruits simply because it’s not possible to digest such a large number of seeds in one go; besides the most common reaction for most people to bite into a pip or seed would be spit it out.

Is Apple Seed Oil Dangerous?

Apple seed oil isn’t ingested; it is normally used for cosmetic purposes. Most people use apple seed oil for its mild fragrance and soothing quality which makes it great for calming skin irritation, inflammation, and itchiness. Apple seed oil is also used in hair oils and conditioners for its properties. It is made by pressing fresh juice from raw apples and extracting the pomace oil from it after processing. Luckily, the amount of amygdalin in apple seed oil is very little and thereby possesses no threat to humans upon contact with the body. As apple seed oil is also effective against bacterial and yeast infections, it is also safe for usage on toddlers, though not infants.

Should Apples be Avoided?

There is no reason why consuming apples should be a problem, unless one eats a bowlful of its seeds. Also, the most important point to note is that the amount of amygdalin in apple seeds needed to create cyanide is insufficient. At the most, it may cause tummy trouble if one consumes the seeds by mistake, but there is no potential threat associated with eating apples at all. For extra precaution, why not core apples, or cut them and remove the seeds before consumption rather than eating the fruit whole and leaving the risk of biting into a pip? Also, if apples are a part of your baby’s diet, remember to cut the fruit into small pieces and remove the seeds as a baby’s digestive system is more susceptible than an adult’s.

So yes, while apple seeds may be slightly threatening, the amount of poisonous elements is so measly in a few seeds that it’s quite safe to eat an apple or two. After all, “an apple a day, keeps the doctor away!”.

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