Are Apple Seeds Poisonous?

Cyanide in Apple Seeds

Apple seeds
Apple seeds contain amygdalin, which decomposes into toxic benzaldehyde and prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide. However, humans are able to detoxify small amounts of these chemicals. Image Source/Getty Images

Apples, along with cherries, peaches, and almonds, are members of the rose family. The seeds of apples and these other fruits contain natural chemicals that are toxic to some animals. Are they poisonous to humans? Here's a look at the toxicity of apple seeds.

Toxicity of Apple Seeds

Apple seeds do contain a small amount of cyanide, which is a lethal poison, but you are protected from the toxin by the hard seed coating.

If you eat whole apple seeds, they pass through your digestive system relatively untouched. If you chew the seeds thoroughly, you will be exposed to the chemicals inside the seeds, but the dose of toxins in an apple is small enough that your body can easily detoxify it.

How Many Apple Seeds Does It Take to Kill You?

Cyanide is deadly at a dose of about 1 milligram per kilogram of body weight. On average, an apple seed contains 0.49 mg of cyanogenic compounds. The number of seeds per apple varies, but an apple with 8 seeds, therefore, contains about 3.92 milligrams of cyanide. A person weighing 70 kilograms would need to eat 143 seeds to reach the lethal dose or about 18 whole apples. 

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Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Are Apple Seeds Poisonous?" ThoughtCo, Apr. 4, 2017, thoughtco.com/are-apple-seeds-poisonous-607725. Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. (2017, April 4). Are Apple Seeds Poisonous? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/are-apple-seeds-poisonous-607725 Helmenstine, Anne Marie, Ph.D. "Are Apple Seeds Poisonous?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/are-apple-seeds-poisonous-607725 (accessed November 19, 2017).