Common Fruits Whose Seed You Didn't Know Are Toxic

A photo of several fruits on display at a local market
A photo of several fruits on display at a local market
Terry Ngari

Fruits and vegetables are widely regarded as nutritious staples, credited with the potential to ward off various illnesses. 

The age-old adage, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away," basically highlights the importance of consuming fruits daily to boost immunity. 

However, unbeknownst to many, some seeds of various fruits like apples can lead to fatality if consumed in larger quantities despite the appealing fleshy, juicy and sweet exterior. 

The Rose Family 

An undated image showing apples
A photo of several apples in a basket after harvesting

Apple seeds contain a compound known as amygdalin, which forms part of its natural defensive mechanism. The compound degrades into hydrogen cyanide (HCN) if accidentally chewed in larger quantities.

Research published in the journal of the Association of Analytical Communities, also known as AOAC International, in April 2023 indicates that amygdalin is a cyanogenic glycoside, a natural toxin found in seeds.

AOAC International brings together government, industry, and academia to establish standard methods of analysis that ensure the safety and integrity of foods and other products impacting public health worldwide.

Another research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO) titled Safety Evaluation of Certain Food Additives and Contaminants, explains that excess consumption of hydrogen cyanide may lead to fatality. 

"Acute toxic effects result primarily from inhibition of cellular respiration and consequent histotoxic anoxia, which can eventually lead to death," reads part of the research.

Notably, histotoxic anoxia transpires when a toxic substance (or substances) interfere with the brain's capacity to utilize oxygen. 

Often, this compound is found in seed fruits in the rose family comprising apples, apricots, peaches, almonds, and cherries.

Accidental consumption of these seeds may result in cyanide poisoning, with symptoms including anxiety, dizziness, and confusion.

The severity of the effects depends on the amount of seeds consumed. It is also dependent on the consumer's weight and type of apple ingested. 

If swallowed whole, the seed may pass through the digestive tract and excreted without harm. For utmost caution, especially for children, removing the seeds before consumption is highly recommended. 


Notably, even though cassava lacks visible seeds, the potentially harmful compound is present. Overconsumption can lead to cyanide poisoning and other neurological disorders. 

Scientists underscore that oils and juices derived from these fruits may contain minimal amygdalin content. 

Other fruits

Plums, even though considered by some scientists as a fruit comprising cyanogenic glycosides, it is relatively lower compared to other fruits. 

Remember to discard the seeds when enjoying these fruits in the future to enjoy a wholesome and safe experience. 

A photo of several stone fruits, peaches, plums and berries.
A photo of several stone fruits, peaches, plums and berries.
  • . . .