An apple a day is said to keep the doctor away according to a popular saying. Seeds of fruits such as pawpaw, avocado and others are said to have medicinal values and even cure ‘diseases’, even though there are no clinical proofs to back such claims. Apples seeds are no exception, as a recent research has just revealed how consumption of crushed apple seeds in high doses could lead to death due to presence of amygdaline, a plant chemical found in the seeds which is converted to cyanide when chewed. RALIAT AHMED – YUSUF writes.
Apples are one of the healthiest fruits often recommended due to its health benefits. Most fruits, apples inclusive contain seeds. With so many unsubstantiated claims on the internet concerning consumption of seeds of some fruits for instance pawpaw and avocado which are said to ‘prevent’ or ‘cure’ some ailments and even the dreaded cancer, one would not be surprised if apples seeds suddenly become ‘cure’ for diseases too! There is the need to be very cautious with some of these ‘researches’ as they may end up causing more harm than good.
A recent research has shown that crushed apple seeds contain a plant compound known as amygdalin which is found in relatively high amounts in the seeds of fruits in the rose family, which includes apples, almonds, apricots, peaches and cherries.
According to the report, amygdalin is a photochemical which serves as a chemical defence for some seeds such as apples. When intact, amygdalin is harmless, but when the seeds are damaged, chewed or digested, this compound is said to degrade into hydrogen cyanide, which is very poisonous and even lethal in high doses.
Cyanide is found in crushed apples seeds and when consumed in high quantity which could result into an emergency as cyanide works by interfering with cells’ oxygen supplies, and may lead to death within minutes at a sufficiently high dose.
The research revealed further how the amount of crushed apple seeds according to body weight could lead to death.
It says: Consuming 0.2-1.6mg of cyanide for each kilogram of body weight (0.5-3.5 mg/kg) may lead to severe poisoning, causing a coma, paralysis, heart and lung failure or even death.
The exact amount needed to make you sick depends on your body weight. Young children are at a greater risk.
For instance, if an adult weighing 81kg consumes 41- 286mg of cyanide, the result could be fatal. For a toddler weighing 9kg, consuming 19-529g of crushed apple seeds or eating 27- 756 seed which could lead to death.
Small amounts of cyanide, ranging from 0.2-1.6 mg for every kilogram body weight, causes acute poisoning and may even be deadly.
Lower amounts of cyanide are said to cause various milder symptoms, such as headache, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, dizziness, weakness and confusion. However, the amygdalin content in one gram of apple seeds ranges from 1-4 mg, depending on the variety.
However, the amount of cyanide derived from apple seeds is much less.
One gram of finely crushed or chewed apple seeds may deliver up to 0.06-0.24 mg of cyanide.
As a result, eating two cups of ground apple seeds might be fatal. At the very least, it could make you sick.
The exact lethal dose of apple seeds varies widely. It depends on body weight, individual tolerance and the type of apple. Keep in mind that much lower amounts might make you sick.
For example, 243 -6,804 apple seeds would be needed to kill an 82kg individual. To put this in perspective, a whole apple may contain anywhere from 0-20 seeds. For 68kg adult, a total of 142-3,969g or between 203-5,670 apple seeds when consumed could lead to death. A 77kg adult who consumes about 161 -4,498g of crushed seeds or 229- 6,429 seeds also risks death due to high amount of cyanide.
However, apple peels and flesh are very healthy and pose no risks to your health while swallowing whole apple seeds is unlikely to cause any symptoms, especially if the seed is not damaged or crushed. It is nevertheless advisable to remove the seeds before giving apples to young children.
Eating a few apple seeds is safe. However, large quantities of ground or crushed seeds (over 100 grams) are potentially fatal.
However, chewed or crushed apple seeds release small amounts of cyanide, which is highly toxic.
Nevertheless, you would probably need to thoroughly chew and swallow over 150 seeds before you experienced any adverse symptoms. So if you accidentally eat a few apple seeds, there is no need to worry. However, before consuming seeds of any fruit most especially those that are said to have medicinal properties, be sure to do a proper research to avoid risk of consuming what may eventually harm your health instead of curing your ailment.
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