Is It Safe for Your Child to Eat Apple Seeds?

March 4th, 2009

Did your mom ever tell you not to eat apple seeds or an apple could grow in your stomach? Well, your mom may have been right. You shouldn’t eat apple seeds, but it’s not because of the apple tree. Apple seeds contain substances called cyanogenic glycosides (a cyanide containing compound) which could cause health problems if consumed in very high quantities. Apple seeds aren’t the only fruit seeds that contain cyanide, so do the seeds of peaches, apricots, cherries, and raspberries, to name a few. It’s quite likely you’ve swallowed a few apple seeds in your life, if they’re poisonous, why didn’t you experience any serious symptoms?

Cyanide ?
Cyanogenic glycosides, as the name suggests, contains cyanide attached to a sugar molecule. When this compound is acted on by an enzyme, the sugar molecule is cleaved off, leaving behind the well known poison, cyanide. The truth is if you were to eat apple seeds in large quantities, they could kill you, but in most cases, the seeds pass through the digestive system without releasing significant amounts of cyanide unless you chew on them to release the toxin.

Even if some poison is released from the seeds, your body has the capability of neutralizing small amounts of cyanide and you probably wouldn’t experience serious effects unless you were to eat apple seeds in very high amounts.

Unfortunately, a small child or a pet may not be so lucky. It might not take a large number of apple seeds to cause symptoms in a child or pet which means you should avoid giving your pets apples unless you remove the seeds. The same applies to children.

What kind of symptoms would develop if you were to eat apple seeds to the point of toxicity? You might experience neurological symptoms including seizures, headache, lightheadedness, and dizziness along with fluctuations in heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Vomiting and excessive salivation could occur. If you consumed enough seeds, you might develop severe breathing problems followed by respiratory failure and death. Because of the large quantity of seeds needed to poison a human, this isn’t commonly seen, although animals are not infrequently affected.

The bottom line? You probably shouldn’t panic if you swallow a few apple seeds. Just make sure your children and pets don’t eat apple seeds. (or other fruit seeds and pits).

Whatever you do – keep giving the kids those seedless apples! They’re a healthy source of fiber and antioxidants.

More great children’s health help at Child n’Parent.

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Dr. Kristi

Entry Filed under: Child Health,Child Safety

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