Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Apple Seeds Contain Cyanide, But Are Not Poisonous

Apples are kind of a big deal. They symbolize knowledge and sin. They also symbolize health and discord. Personally, I see an apple and wonder two things, “Is it apple-picking season already?” and “Can I put a stick through that and cover it in caramel?”

Hey, this might be a health blog, but I’m still human.

So with happy things to think about like cider, Johnny Appleseed, and tasty treats, why all the negative associations with apples? Well, maybe it’s because…

Apple Seeds Carry a Cyanide Compound

Cyanide, made famous by murder mysteries and spy novels, is a nasty little chemical that keeps oxygen out of blood. A fatal dose of cyanide with turn someone grey and knock them unconscious. From there, the person will slip into a coma and eventually die. The medical definition for this condition is called "hypoxia."

And apples, despite their vitamins and nutrients, carry a compound within every seed called “amygdalin.” This compound breaks down into sugar and hydrogen cyanide – the same deadly chemical used in WWII gas chambers.

Oh the humanity! They're organizing! Save the children!
So apples have the capacity to kill you. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Apple Seeds Can’t Really Hurt You

Just kidding. Don’t be afraid - the dosage of this chemical in a single apple seed is miniscule. What’s more, the chemical can only be accessed if the seed is crushed or destroyed. Seeds have grown to survive the digestive tracts of animals as a way of travelling to find a better place to grow.

Even if you bought a bushel of apples, cored them, crushed the seeds into fine powder and put that into a drink, you still wouldn’t come close to a fatal dose. You would only waste a lot of apples and a lot of time.

Now if you used peaches, you’d be getting somewhere… But you didn’t hear that from me.

An apple a day
Keeps the doctor away

I propose we add a second verse to this rhyme:

But eating the core?
Have a coffin in store

I don’t think my addition will catch on in the schoolyard… Ah well.


  1. Don't give up on your schoolyard rhyme just yet... "Ring around the Rosie" is about the Plague, after all.

    In all seriousness, I just stumbled across your blog and love what I've had a chance to read so far. I'll be coming back to delve into more posts!

    1. I'm excited to hear that you like what I'm doing here! It was very nice to read your comment. Please, look all around my blog - I encourage it! In particular, look back to some of my first posts. They tend to be a little longer, but I would spend 2 to 3 hours researching and writing each one. There's a lot of tasty information to be found.

      And, of course, if you have anything you'd like to see, or if you disagree with anything I've written, let me know!