Is It Safe To Eat Apple Seeds?

As the saying goes, an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But the same may not apply to those black seeds in an apple core. While many people avoid the seeds due to their bitterness, others may steer clear of apple seeds due to their purported toxicity. You may be wondering: How is the apple is safe to eat, but not the seeds?

The seeds contain a plant compound called amygdalin, which is safe when the seed is intact — but if the seed is chewed or damaged, it releases toxic hydrogen cyanide (via Medical News Today). This works as part of the seed's chemical defenses. Amygdalin also can be found in almonds, and in the pits of apricots, cherries, and peaches. 

Cyanide poisoning can be very dangerous — even fatal. Symptoms include shortness of breath, seizures, or loss of consciousness (via Healthline). Exposure to cyanide can also cause issues in your brain and heart.

How many seeds is too many?

Due to the cyanide derived from the seeds, they could be dangerous to eat in large quantities (per Medical News Today). The specific number of seeds you would need to consume to feel the effects of cyanide poisoning would vary by your height, weight, and age — and young children and pets are at a heightened risk. The type of apple would also be a factor. 

For the most part, you don't need to panic if you happen to eat a few apple seeds, especially if you swallow them whole. You would need to finely chew and eat about 200 apple seeds — or about 40 apple cores — to receive a fatal dose of cyanide, according to Healthline. Still, the safest bet is probably to bite around the core and spit out any seeds when eating apples, and to remove the core when juicing them, to avoid any potential health issues (per Medical News Today).