Saturday, July 25, 2009

About cyanide and peach pits, apricot seeds and or plum pits?

How many peach pits or apricot seeds or plum pits does it take to kill an adult? I eat a lot of these and I'm wondering what the threshold is. Anyone with some hard facts. And no, I do not want the same blah, blah, blah...this is this, and this is how it works and what not. No. I know also how many to kill a child, but I am not a child. So please, how many does it take?

About cyanide and peach pits, apricot seeds and or plum pits?
Q: I ate a peach yesterday and the pit was partially opened. For the first time I noticed there were seeds inside and so I bit one to see what it tasted like. It tasted very almondy to me and have a nice soft nut like texture. Are these seeds edible and if so, why can't I find any commercial reference to them?





A: All parts of the peach, plum, and cherry are poisonous, with the stone kernels containing the highest concentration of cyanide, at 164 mg/100 grams. While no human deaths have been reported, hogs and cattle have succumbed to eating fallen peaches pit and all. Now you know why they are not for sale on the market.





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It turns out that peach seeds actually contain Cyanide, in the form of Amygdalin.





Is that a problem? Well, theoretically yes, but not really.





The amounts aren’t very big, with “One hundred grams of moist peach seed contains 88 mg of cyanide, while an equivalent amount of apricot seed holds 217 mg.”





A single peach fruit of course doesn’t have nearly as much as a hundred grams of seed. But how dangerous is that amount, as a high level reference?





If they’re not talking about pure cyanide, but about the Amygdalin, not at all. The thing is used in anti-cancer medications (doesn’t work, BTW) in higher amounts, and studies found no side-effects in taking 500mg three times a day. Which would be about 1.7Kg of just the peach’s seeds per day. Not realistic.





If they’re talking about the pure cyanide extracted from it, that’s more dangerous. But still not that big a deal. Research shows 10.8mg per Kg of body weight per day is NOAEL (i.e. known to be safe). So for a petite person weighing 50Kg this would be about 610g of peach seeds, per day. And that’s before any adverse effects of long-time usage appear, and still very far from chocking and instant death.





People rarely eat a peach seed by mistake, usually the pit/stone is too tough to open and expose the seeds. And it’s too large to be swallowed whole by a person. So a seed will only be eaten when the stone is cracked, and one accidentally slips out, and accidentally swallowed.





Compared with the massive amount of seeds a person will have to eat to get to the critical level, I’d say it’s not that big a concern. Heck, eating 600g of whole peaches a day would be a hard task. So that amount of just the seeds? The boredom and frustration, not to mention the horrible taste, will kill a person first.



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