Apple is considered as one the healthiest fruits but this same nutritious fruit can turn fatal. Yes, you heard it right. Apple seeds are capable of poisoning and causing death. Apple seeds contain amygdalin, a substance which releases cyanide when it comes in contact with human digestive enzymes. Amygdalin contains cyanide and sugar which when ingested by the body gets converted into hydrogen cyanide (HCN). This cyanide can make you sick and can even kill you. But acute toxicity is rare with accidental ingestion of seeds.
How cyanide works?
Cyanide is infamous as one of the deadliest poisons with a long history in mass suicide and chemical warfare. Cyanide works by interfering with oxygen supply. And yes, apart from its chemical form it is also found in seeds of some fruits including, apricots, cherries, plum, peaches and apples. These seeds have tough protective coating which seals the amygdalin inside them. This strong protective layer of seeds is resistant to the digestive juices.
How much cyanide is poisonous?
About 200 grinded apple seeds, which means around a cup of it, can be fatal for the human body. Cyanide can damage your heart and brain. It can even lead to 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 heart rate, respiratory failure, low blood pressure, all of which can lead to loss of consciousness. Survivors of poisoning can show evidence of heart and brain damage.
Also, lower amount of cyanide can lead to problems like nausea, headache, vomiting, stomach cramps, dizziness, confusion and weakness.
The exact amount that can poison someone depends on their body weight. To be more precise 0.5 to 3.5mg of cyanide per kg of a human body can 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.
Swallowing whole apple seeds is unlikely to cause any complications, as they pass without causing any harms to the body.
Still it's a good idea to remove the seeds before eating the apple. Nevertheless, if you accidentally eat a few seeds, don't worry. But you should immediately spit them out to avoid any potential issues.