The old adage "an apple a day keeps the doctor away" is probably the reason apples have become one of the most widely-consumed fruits in the world. But while you may know apples have a lot to offer, you may be left wondering if there are any apple seed benefits.
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While there's not a lot of apple seed information out there, some studies have shown that the seeds of an apple are a rich source of bacteria that can keep your gut healthy. They're also rich in phytochemicals that can help protect against chronic diseases. But on the other side of the coin, there's some evidence that apple seeds contain a compound that turns into cyanide, which is extremely poisonous in certain doses.
Apple Seeds Benefits
Your body is a complex ecosystem that's home to trillions of microorganisms that live in your gut — among other places. In addition, your lifestyle, including the food you eat, plays a vital role in the keeping that ecosystem balanced and healthy. One of the ways you gain access to good bacteria is through the foods you eat.
Researchers from a study that was published by Frontiers in Microbiology in July 2019 looked at how apple seeds contributed to the good bacteria you get. They found that a single apple contains 100 million bacterial cells, and most of those bacterial cells are concentrated in the apple seeds.
The researchers noted that this bacteria could promote the growth of Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium_,_ two beneficial bacteria in the gut, and reduce the amount of potentially harmful bacteria and pathogens. They also said that the bacteria on apples can balance the human microbiome and reduce the frequency and severity of food allergies.
Apple seeds also contain a compound called ursolic acid, which is a phytochemical that, according to an April 2017 report in Food Chemistry, is:
- Anti-protozoal (which means it helps fight parasites)
A Word of Caution
In the past, you may have heard about a possible connection between apple seeds and cyanide, so it wouldn't be right to discuss potential apple seeds benefits without also pointing out potentially dangerous apple seeds information, too.
It's true that apple seeds contain a compound called amygdalin, which is classified as a natural plant toxicant — or potentially harmful substance. In other words, when apple seeds are broken down, the amygdalin in them can turn into cyanide.
However, according to the Toxicology Data Network from the National Library of Medicine, adverse effects of cyanide start to show up at exposure levels of 1.2 milligrams of cyanide per kilogram (or about 2.2 pounds) of body weight. That means if you weigh 150 pounds, you would need to be exposed to about 82 milligrams of cyanide at a time to experience any ill effects from it.
According to a report that was published in Food Chemistry in March 2015, apple seeds contain 1 milligram of amygdalin to 4 milligrams of amygdalin per gram, which can generate between 0.06 and 0.2 milligrams of cyanide per gram of apple seeds. To put it into perspective, a single apple seed weighs about half a gram, so you would have to eat a lot of apple seeds to reach a problematic cyanide dose.
That being said, the benefits of eating apple seeds may not be enough to outweigh the risks. If you want to include apple seeds in your diet, talk to your doctor or a trusted healthcare professional to decide if it's the right dietary choice for you.
- Frontiers in Microbiology: "An Apple a Day: Which Bacteria Do We Eat With Organic and Conventional Apples?"
- Food Chemistry: "Determination of Amygdalin in Apple Seeds, Fresh Apples and Processed Apple Juices"
- Food Chemistry: "Ursolic Acid From Apple Pomace and Traditional Plants: A Valuable Triterpenoid With Functional Properties"
- Toxicology Data Network from the National Library of Medicine: "Hydrogen Cyanide"