As you watch someone carelessly munches on an apple core, some vague alarm bells go off in your head. Didn’t you hear somewhere that apple seeds are poisonous? Well, apple seeds can indeed be poisonous, but it takes quite a few of them to kill you and only if they have been crushed. Apple seeds (and the seeds of related plants, such as pears and cherries) contain amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside composed of cyanide and sugar. When metabolized in the digestive system, this chemical degrades into highly poisonous hydrogen cyanide (HCN). A lethal dose of HCN can kill within minutes.
Thankfully, several factors make death-by-apple-seed impossible. First, the amygdalin is accessible only if the seeds are crushed or chewed; a whole unbroken seed will be passed right through. Second, the human body can process HCN in small doses, so a pair of chewed seeds are usually completely harmless. Finally, the average adult would need to eat anywhere from 150 to several thousand crushed seeds (depending on the apple variety) to be at the risk of intoxication.
The average apple contains only about five to eight seeds. So, unless someone is eating their 18th consecutive apple core and has been meticulously chewing all the seeds, they should be fine with their occasional absentminded core chomping.
How much cyanide is poisonous?
About 200 grinned apple seeds, which means around a cup of it, are often fatal for the frame. Cyanide can damage your heart and brain. It can even cause coma and death in rare cases. In fact, if consumed in large quantities, the symptoms can occur instantly including, seizures, shortness of breath, trembling, spasm, increased pulse, respiratory failure, low blood pressure, all of which may result in loss of consciousness. Survivors of poisoning can show evidence of heart, and brain damage. Also, lower amount of cyanide can cause problems like nausea, headache, vomiting, stomach cramps, dizziness, confusion, and weakness.
The exact amount that can poison someone depends on their weight. To be more precise 0.5 to 3.5 mg of cyanide per kg of an individual’s body will be poisonous. Though it also depends on individual tolerance and the type of apples.
1 gram of finely crushed or chewed apple seeds contain 0.06–0.24 mg of cyanide.
Verdict: Swallowing whole apple seeds are unlikely to cause any complications, as they pass without causing any harms to the body. Still, it’s a good idea to get rid of the seeds before eating the apple. Nevertheless, if you by mistake eat some seeds, don’t worry. But you must immediately spit them out to avoid any potential issues.