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Cyanide, arsenic and other toxins in fruits: apple pits, peach pits, cherry pits, etc.: facts, myths and old wives' tales. Discover your truth!
Given the popularity of juicers and food grinders, some people seem to think that grinding the whole fruit - skin, seeds, seeds, stems and all - is somehow healthier than traditional methods. This isn't always the case. Parts of some fruits are not only unpleasant to eat, but they can even be dangerous. Here are the facts about the poisonous parts of the fruit.
Cyanide in Apple Pit, Cherry Pit, Peach Pit and Apricot Pit
Apple and crab apple seeds (and the seeds of some other fruits, such as cherries, peaches, apricots) contain amygdalin, an organic sugar-cyanide compound that breaks down to hydrocyanic acid (HCN) when metabolized. Cyanide itself is a poison that kills by negating the blood's ability to carry oxygen, causing its victims to die. It's not an urban legend that apple seeds contain cyanide; selfSnopes.com has an article about this.. "The Dr. Oz Show" did an episode where they talked about the amount of arsenic in children's apple juice.
Apple seeds also have a hard protective coating that seals the tonsil from the inside unless the seeds are crushed, chewed or otherwise ground. Whole apple seeds have hard, durable husks that allow them to pass through the digestive system of humans and animals alike.
The National Institutes of Health says:
"Edible parts of plant species commonly used in the United States contain relatively low levels of cyanoglycosides, although some common fruit pits and seeds—apple, apricot, peach—contain significantly higher concentrations."
the end result
Don't worry: it would take a bushel of ground apple seeds (about 1 cup of seeds) to produce enough cyanide to poison someone. Apples ground and pressed into apple juice or cider would not release enough cyanide to pose a problem. Apples are also not boiled and sifted into a sauce. Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D. The associate director of the PG Research Foundation in Darien, Illinois, says: Take the seeds from about a bushel of apples, mash them up and eat them all at once.
That said, I don't think I would intentionally put the seeds in a pot or incorporate them into food. When we make homemade applesauce or juice, the seeds are excluded from the sieving step of the process and most are not even broken or ground.
Cyanide toxicity in fruit seeds
Humans experience cyanide toxicity at doses of about 0.5 to 3.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight. Symptoms of cyanide poisoning include stomach cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting and can lead to cardiac arrest, respiratory failure, coma and death. A lethal dose for humans can be as low as 1.5 milligrams per kilogram of body weight.
Cherry, peach and apricot pits, on the other hand, also contain amygdalin, a form of cyanide. Peach and apricot have it in potentially harmful amounts. Of course, few people intentionally swallow or chew them.This NYTimes article explains more..
british newspaper,The Guardian reports the following cyanide levels in various fruits:
Almonds in other fruits, in mg/g of seeds:
- Verdejo: 17.5
- Apricot: 14.4
- Red cherries: 3.9
- Black cherries: 2.7
- Peaches: 2.2
- Plums: 2.2
- Pears: 1,3
- Nectarines: 0.1
Why is cyanide present in these fruit seeds?
Organic and inorganic forms of arsenic can be found in soil, both naturally and through the use of cyanide-based pesticides prior to the 1970s. As a result, small amounts can be ingested by plants and found in certain foods and beverages.The FDA article was here-BUT YOU REMOVED EM 2020.
So is organic juice better?
Logically yes. But there are still no reliable, objective, independent studies to support this. And some amount of cyanide is usually present in the seeds anyway, as discussed in the first paragraph. It could be argued that homemade applesauce and apple juice are safer because you can ensure the pits aren't crushed.
The US Food and Drug Administration has conducted its own research and proposed an upper limit for arsenic levels in apple juice. The FDA proposal limits inorganic arsenic levels to 10 parts per billion. That's the same amount Environmental Protection Agency rules allow in drinking water. This is the first time the FDA has set limits on levels of arsenic in commercial foods or beverages.
For more information on the FDA's current draft industry guidance on action levels for inorganic arsenic in apple juice and related documents, visit:
- Press release: FDA proposes "action level" for arsenic in apple juice
- Industry Guide Draft: Arsenic in Apple Juice: Action Level
- Supporting Document for Action Level on Arsenic in Apple Juice
- Quantitative evaluation of inorganic arsenic in apple juice
- Peer Review Report: Risk Assessment of Arsenic in Apple Juice
ANDAgency for Toxic Substances and Disease RegistryData
Compounds that release cyanide are naturally present in plants. The amounts are usually small in the edible part, but higher in cassava. The pits and seeds of common fruits such as apricots, apples, and peaches can contain significant amounts of cyanide-releasing chemicals, so people should avoid consuming these pits and seeds to avoid accidental cyanide poisoning. Parents should teach their children not to eat fruit pits and seeds. People should be aware that ingesting large amounts of vitamin C can increase the risk of cyanide poisoning from fruit pits, because more cyanide is released from the pits.
questions and answers
- A visitor writes on September 4, 2017:“Hi, regarding the toxicity of apple seeds, can you tell me if cooking reduces it? I look for crab apples, cook them whole, mash them and extract the juice to make pectin for jam. I then use the pulp, including chopped core pieces, to make an apple paste - this involves boiling it with sugar to a temperature of at least 104°C. , if any, there may be a risk to the initial content. Thanks. cheryl"
No, arsenic is inorganic, so ordinary cooking would not destroy it. Crushing would likely increase the amount of arsenic if it causes the seeds to crack. I use an apple slicer/cutter, those that are pressed into the apple that has a circle avoiding the core; In this way, the seeds are less likely to break. Of course, the question really is: how risky is it? It may still be trivial, or not. Without testing your product, it would remain unknown.
- Centers for Disease Control - Cyanide Information
- AMA Manual of Poisonous and Noxious Plants von Dr. K. F. Lampe und M. A. McCann, Chicago, IL 1985.
- Label with nutritional information..
- CNN did a story on cyanide in apple juice in 2014
- Richard E. Barrans Jr., Ph.D. Deputy Director, PG Research Foundation in Darien, Illinoiswww.newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/bot00/bot00208.htm (Page no longer available)
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