Why You Should Never Eat Raw Apricot Kernels

The world is full of poisonous foods. Many of these are unsuspecting, lurking in our grocery stores and kitchens, and hidden within our favorite fruits and vegetables. Have you ever eaten an apple or an apricot? If so, you may have been in close contact with harmful toxins.

Both of these fruits contain cyanide, a potentially deadly chemical that stops our cells from using oxygen and as a result, is extremely harmful to our hearts and brains (via CDC). Seeing how cyanide is also found in cigarette smoke and pest extermination gas, it seems safe to say this isn't something we want to ingest on a daily basis.

Luckily, most of us naturally don't eat the poisonous part of common foods, which is why we're not all dropping dead after a slice of apple pie. Per WebMD, apple seeds are the only part of the fruit that contain cyanide, so as long as you're steering clear of those, apples are perfectly safe to eat. The same thing goes for apricots; as long as you avoid one area of this delectable fruit, you can continue to enjoy it on a regular basis.

Apricot kernels aren't the safest seed

Just like with apples, the source of danger in apricots is located in the center of the fruit. Apricot kernels (also known as the seeds) contain amygdalin, a chemical that our bodies turn into cyanide once ingested (via WebMD). As we covered, cyanide can lead to death, but you would have to consume 50 to 60 apricot kernels for this to happen — it's more likely that you would eat a smaller amount of kernels and have a headache, nausea, dizziness, and more (via Medical News Today).

All that sounds less than ideal, and it seems like apricot kernels are best avoided altogether. They usually are, since the kernels are located inside the apricot pit, which most people throw away, notes the European Food Safety Authority. However, some claim that apricot kernels may actually be good for us. According to Medical News Today, people have proposed that they can fight cancer and are in fact a superfood, but there is no substantial evidence to back up these claims.

If you're curious about the taste of apricot kernels but don't want to risk your life over a seed, the Singapore Food Agency recommends boiling them for at least half an hour for safe consumption, which should remove the toxins. Still skeptical? When in doubt, stick to the apricot flesh, or safer seeds like pepitas and pumpkin seeds, and your heart and your brain will thank you.