The pits and seeds of many fruits contain amygdalin — a plant compound that your body converts to cyanide after eating. Symptoms of cyanide exposure include dizziness, headache, nausea, a rapid heart rate and convulsions.
Amygdalin stays safely in the pit unless you crack it open and eat the substance inside. The flesh of the fruit contains very little of the compound. Stay away from the contents of the pit and eat only the fruit.
What is Amygdalin
The pits of green plums have the highest amygdalin content, followed by apricots, black plums, peaches and red cherries and then Apple seeds.
An adult who eats more than three small raw apricot kernels, or less than half of one large kernel, in one sitting can exceed safe levels of the cyanide-releasing chemical, per European Food Safety Authority. For toddlers, even one small apricot kernel is risky.
You’d have to chew and eat the seeds of about 18 apples in one sitting to consume a lethal dose of cyanide.
If you just swallow an apple seed or cherry pit intact, the amygdalin shouldn’t get into your system, the shell is hard enough to pass through the digestive system intact.
Heat deactivates the cyanide, so seeds are safe if processed properly, which may involve soaking, drying, cooking, canning and roasting or perhaps fermenting.
People often eat the pits intentionally; some like the taste of apple seeds, while others believe the almond-like substance has health benefits.
Apricot kernels are the basis for laetrile, a purified form of amygdalin, and have been marketed as a cancer cure, but laetrile has shown little anti-cancer effect in studies, the National Cancer Institute noted.
The FDA recently warned more than a dozen companies to stop making claims about herbal products marketed to treat or prevent cancer. Eating apricot kernels poses risk of cyanide poisoning warns the European Food Safety Authority.
Normal fruit consumption of fruits is good for health so enjoy the flesh and skipping the pit.