What Is an Apricot Kernel?


Apricots are a sweet, fleshy, round fruit that contain a seed. Inside the seed is a kernel that can be eaten. The subject of much research, the apricot kernel is nutritious but should be consumed with caution.

The Kernel

The apricot kernel is obtained from inside the hard, spiny seed found inside the apricot fruit.

Nutritional Value

Apricot kernels contain several compounds including vitamin E and amygdalin, also called vitamin B17. The problem is that amygdalin is converted to cyanide in the intestine.


Apricot kernels are strong and bitter-tasting. They are used in making food like marzipan and apricot jam.

Cancer-Fighting Claims

The National Cancer Institute says that laetrile, a purified form of amygdalin found in apricot kernels and touted in the 1970s as having anticancer properties, has little if any anticancer effect.

Side Effects

When eaten in excess, apricot kernels can cause symptoms of cyanide poisoning, such as dizziness, headache, hypotension, nausea, vomiting, cyanosis, and coma.


  • Herbalhut.com: Apricot Kernels
  • National Cancer Institute: Laetrile/Amygdalin
  • Drugs.com: Apricot
Keywords: apricot kernels, apricots, laetrile

About this Author

Juliet Harpe studied nursing at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., and theater arts at DeAnza College in Cupertino, Calif. She researches alternative health therapies and has been manufacturing natural perfumes and aromatherapy products since 2005. Harpe has been writing for various online publications since 2009.

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