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“Are apple seeds poisonous?” seems like a simple question. And the short answer is: yes. But before you up and toss the literal fruits of your actual labor this apple picking season, let’s have a look at the metrics involved and the minimal risk.

Basically, you can go ahead and hold right on to all of your apple pies, apple muffins, applesauces, and apple butters, as you’d have to resort to some pretty significant evil queen-like antics if you’re trying to capitalize on any poisonous apple effects. (So if you were looking for an excuse to not eat apples, sorry.)

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The Uncontrolled Substance

Apple seeds contain cyanide, which, as anyone familiar with the infamous death of Joffrey Baratheon can tell you, can be fatal to humans.

Cyanide is naturally occurring in certain plants as a built-in insect and disease repellent. (Technically, the compound in the plants is amygdalin, which breaks down into the toxin cyanide—and has been promoted as a cancer treatment that is neither scientifically proven nor FDA approved.)

Not only is the amount of cyanide in a single apple seed an insignificant microdose that the human body can easily detoxify, the cyanide is well-contained within the seed’s hard shell. Even if you consume an entire apple’s worth of seeds, as many other mammals do, they will likely pass through your digestive system whole without releasing any cyanide, unless you are really, really committed to thorough chewing before swallowing.


If you look at a cross section of an apple, a typical one contains about five to eight seeds. And so long as we’re looking at the cross section, note that the seed pod when cut crosswise creates a delicate little shape called the “star of the apple,” which makes a lovely decorative touch, (seeds removed, naturally,) for apple pies and breads, or even as a fall cocktail garnish.

How Hungry for Apples Are You?

How About Them Apples?Forbidden Fruit: An Exploration of the Apple in Historical and Popular CultureBut enough with decoration; back to poison. So, how many apple’s worth of seeds would you have to eat (and chew thoroughly) to get to a lethal dose? Let’s just say you’d likely get a severe stomachache from the large quantities of fruit itself before you reached any harmful levels of cyanide. According to Healthline, you’d need to eat around 200 apple seeds (or about 40 apples’ worth) before being in danger of poisoning.

Other tree fruits and nuts such as cherries, peaches, apricots, plums, pears, and almonds also contain cyanide within their seed pods, but again, unless you’re really craving the particular, dental-destroying crunch of a handful of apricot kernels, you’re not likely to find your demise in any sort of fairy-tale-character-ingesting-poisoned-fruit sort of way. You’ll just have to live out your Snow White fantasies by recruiting a gaggle of quirky, much-shorter-than-you friends.

And then you can invite then all over for a decidedly un-poisonous afternoon of delicious, apple-centric baked goods.

Related Video: How to Make the Easiest Apple and Sage Stuffing

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

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