Here’s why you should never bite into and eat cherry pits
INTOXICATION – A 28-year-old British man was rushed to hospital in mid-July and will remember why you should never eat a cherry pit, plum, apricot or any other fruit. They all contain amygdalin, a substance that turns into cyanide in the stomach and then becomes highly toxic to the person who ingests it.
In summer, cherries, plums, apricots and peaches are in the spotlight. And given their high nutritional potential, it would be wrong not to include them on the menu. But that doesn’t mean you have to eat every last piece.
The misadventure of Matthew Creme, a 28-year-old British father, is a good reminder that pits must be spared or you’ll end up in the emergency room.
The young man actually devoured the cherries in a can with their pits. And he didn’t just swallow them but chewed them, as explained by the English website The Independent: “Out of curiosity, he bit into the pit to eat the soft seed inside. After he thought it tasted good, he ate two more.”
A very bad idea that could have cost him his life. About ten minutes after the ingestion, the Briton is indeed taken of an extreme tiredness, of headaches and fever. His companion, very worried, alerted the emergency services and Matthew was quickly taken care of. The examinations that followed revealed cyanide poisoning.
The dose not to be exceeded: between 1 and 1.5 mg per kilo of body weight
This is not very surprising since many fruit pits, such as apple seeds, contain amygdalin. When ingested, this substance contained in the kernel of the pits and seeds turns into hydrogen cyanide (or hydrocyanic acid) and causes many symptoms, depending on the amount consumed. These range from dizziness to cardiac arrest to convulsions.
There is no need to panic if you or your child inadvertently ingests a cherry pit. In order not to put yourself in mortal danger, the dose not to exceed is between 1 and 1.5 mg per kilo of body weight. A person weighing 60 kg should therefore not ingest more than 90 mg. However, a cherry pit contains 3.9 mg of amygdalin per gram and this substance is not entirely transformed into cyanide in the stomach. So you’d have to eat a lot of them to risk being poisoned.