What are the Problems Associated With Swallowing Fruit Seeds?

Sometimes we tell children if they eat fruit seeds the fruit will grow inside their stomach. Of course, this is not true, but it could stop many kids from eating fruit seeds. Some fruit seeds are good for us---for example, grape seeds contain resveratrol, which has antioxidants that might slow the growth of human cancer cells. It's better to be safe than sorry, though, so in general, avoid eating the seeds of any fruit.

Apple Seeds

Eating just a few apple seeds probably won't have an adverse effect on your health or well being, but in larger quantities, the cyanide in apple seeds can be very dangerous if you grind them up and consume large amounts.

Apricot Seeds

Although apricot seeds contain a substance called laetrile, which has been used in alternative medicine as a treatment for cancer, they also contain toxic ingredients that can react with the human body's digestive enzymes and result in toxic mixtures, such as cyanide. The active ingredient in laetrile is most likely cyanide. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved the use of laetrile for any purpose.

Peach Seeds

Peaches are related to apricots and plums, so their seeds, if eaten in large quantities, contain cyanide, which occurs naturally in these seeds. It's best not to eat the seeds of any stone fruit.

Plum Seeds

The seeds of all varieties of plums can form cyanide in the body if you eat them. Cyanide acts quickly, limits the amount of oxygen the body receives and results in symptoms that affect the heart and the brain, such as dizziness, rapid breathing, nausea and headache. Convulsions and respiratory failure are the extreme effects of cyanide poisoning.

What Fruit Seeds Are All Right to Eat?

Generally, small seeds are fine to eat. Examples are watermelon, cantaloupe, passion fruit, papaya, pomegranate and grapes. Some seeds, such as pumpkin seeds, are very nutritious and delicious. The myth about fruit seeds causing appendicitis is untrue. Although it is remotely possible that a large number of fruit seeds might cause the intestine to tear or become perforated, fruit seeds are rarely implicated in this problem.

Keywords: fruit seeds, plant toxicity, cyanide laetrile

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hiā€˜iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Barbara wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides.com and eHow.com. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.