Some Fruit Seeds Contain Cyanide

September 25, 2011 at 5:00 pm 8 comments

By Chad Upton | Editor

Seeds from peaches, black cherries, apricots and apples contain a compound called amygdalin. Your body metabolizes amygdalin as hydrogen cyanide, which can make you very sick and even kill you (in large doses).

Hydrogen cyanide is lethal because it impedes blood from carrying oxygen, which is of course a critical function of blood.

The pits and seeds from cherries and apples aren’t a huge concern since it would take an unreasonably significant quantity of those to cause you harm. However, you should be more aware of the dangers of peach and apricot seeds if you like to eat them.

If you’re just consuming the fruit, there is nothing to worry about; however, some people buy bags of apricot seeds, or other forms of amygdalin, as a treatment or preventative treatment for cancer. It is marketed under the name Laetrile and “Vitamin B17” although there are many studies that prove it is not effective at treating cancer, not to mention the increased chance of cyanide poisoning.

A fatal dose of cyanide can be as little as 1.5 mg/kg of body weight. Since an apricot kernel contains approximately 0.5 mg of cyanide, consuming 150 seeds in a short period of time could be lethal to a 50 kg (110 lb) person.

It’s not just fruit seeds, there are other foods that contain cyanide too. Cassava, also known as tapioca, contains two forms of cyanide and should not be eaten raw. It is rendered safe for consumption by the process of soaking, cooking or fermentation.

There are many people who consume these foods in small doses without issue; you can buy bags of apricot kernels from Amazon or health food stores. If you do buy some, heed the serving suggestion and warning on the package.

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Sources: wikipedia (amygdalin, cassava, cyanide poisoning, apricot kernel), Saint Louis University (PDF)

Entry filed under: Food and Drink, Health and Beauty. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

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8 Comments Add your own

  • […] Some Fruit Seeds Contain Cyanide ( -3.233595 29.159775 Rate this: Share this:FacebookStumbleUponEmailTwitterLinkedInPrintDiggRedditLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post.   […]

  • 2. Top Preferred Foods That Can Kill You « Belle Essentials  |  November 2, 2011 at 7:32 am

    […] Some Fruit Seeds Contain Cyanide ( […]

  • 3. Micaela  |  November 9, 2011 at 1:05 am

    Tahina (sesame paste) is dangerous as well, but I don’t know why. Maybe you could research it and add it to this article :)

  • 4. Victor Epand  |  November 15, 2012 at 5:05 am

    Cyanide is only poisonous when it is released as a gas. However, the cyanide contained in apple seeds is not only safe, it is actually combined with sugars in a form that effectively fights cancer cells. The same is true with apricot pits and other cyanide bearing fruit seeds. Watch this video:

    • 5. legsdickson  |  December 20, 2015 at 1:22 pm

      I ate 4 apricot seeds one evening and within 5 hours I was puking them up, nauseous, headache, and abdominal pain so severe I fled to the ER where they kept me for 4 days until the “food poisoning” resolved itself.
      Want to know why this happened? I had been taking beta glucan as a supplement, 2,000 mg per day, for boosting my immune system. I’m an 84 year old male and suspect prostate cancer may be developing. But what I was not prepared for was the chemical reaction of the cyanide in the apricot seeds with the beta glucan which was in my stomach or intestines. If beta glucosidase releases the cyanide, as Dr. G. Edward Griffin describes in his book, “World Without Cancer,” then the beta glucan I was taking must have as one of its components some beta glucosidase, thus anyone supplementing with beta glucan, as I had been, is risking the release of cyanide prematurely, before the nitrilosides from the apricot seeds reach the cancer cells.
      Any comments on my theory of the risk I have described are welcome, as I would like to believe that the chemistry as Dr. Griffin describes it in his book is correct and makes the cyanide harmless unless one has supplemented with large doses of beta glucan in advance of consuming the apricot seeds as had I.

      • 6. gravitystarship  |  June 1, 2021 at 8:59 pm

        I would keep some AKG (alpha-ketoglutarate) on hand as it’s a possible antidote to cyanide. Arginine AKG is commonly available as a bulk powder supplement.

    • 7. Jonny  |  March 1, 2022 at 3:14 pm

      Cyanide is always dangerous whether it is a gas, liquid or solid. One form of very dangerous solid cyanide is sodium cyanide, which has a IDHL (immediate danger to life or health) of only 25 mg/m^3. I am pretty sure that this is a lower IDHL than hydrogen cyanide by about half. Also, the cyanide that is in some fruits is still not safe. The type of cyanide that is released from amygdalin when metabolized is hydrogen cyanide not whatever the soccer mom in the vid had said. You are able to eat apple seeds because the danger arrives from them being broken open, and it takes ~200 apple seeds (50 to 20 apples) to potentially get a lethal dosage.

  • 8. Davo  |  May 25, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    Not only poisonous as a gas, although most deadly then. I worked at a gold processing plant. There was a case that workers went home with a low concentration cyanide dust on their boots. Story goes that a workers dog used to lick his boots, as a dog will do. Even as a low dosage it eventually built up in the dogs system and he died. Out of curiosity an autopsy on the dog revealed cyanide poisoning.
    The cyanide is used as part of a leaching agent in the gold processing to release the gold from rock, The leach liquid then dries on boots and clothing, Mixed with the dogs saliva it gets into the blood stream and then does the damage as it builds up over time. But the cyanide leachate will also break down in Ultra violet light (sunlight).


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