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I've heard recently that apple seeds contain arsenic. Is this true? Should apples not be eaten then?

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Arsenic is a metal - a chemical element that can't be manufactured. Cyanides are organic poisons.

So, if your soil doesn't contains arsenic in the first place, there is no way the apples you grow on it can contain arsenic. However, apples do contain cyanide which can be synthesized by the plant.

  • 1
    It's the same thing for tobacco. When I hear that tobacco contains cadmium, arsenic, lead, quicksilver and you name it, I have to think they are growing it on soil you would certainly not be allowed to grow corn... – Alexis Dufrenoy Jun 17 '11 at 16:56
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    I would think most soils contain these metals. Just not very much of it. – Lennart Regebro Jun 19 '11 at 7:23
  • @Lennart Regebro: Ok, you're right. Let's say the concentration of those elements in a plant depends greatly from the concentration in the soil, and if tobacco is said to contain alarming levels of them, it means the soil is not adapted to grow plants you want to eat/smoke/enter in your system by any means... – Alexis Dufrenoy Jun 19 '11 at 10:37
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    -1: Too much logic and reasoning, too little facts. – Suma Jul 29 '11 at 14:09
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    The poison can also be introduced artificially, through e.g. pesticides sprayed on or chemicals used in the cleaning, curing, and shipping of the produce. – jwenting May 1 '12 at 9:53
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No, but they do contain a cyanide compound and are poisonous. You do have to eat quite a lot (and probably chew the seeds, not just swallow them) to get poisoned though. According to wrongdiagnosis.com, hospitalisation is recommended after eating more than 50 seeds.

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    There's no reference here to support the first word of this answer, i.e. that they do NOT contain (toxic levels of) Arsenic. – Oddthinking Feb 25 '12 at 0:54
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Looks like a simple google search yields my answer:

http://www.snopes.com/food/warnings/apples.asp

The seeds actually contain a cyanide compound, not arsenic. But, the amount is so trivial that there is no harm in eating the apples. And the seeds are encased in a indigestible material so they pass through our systems.

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    Note that the same article does say that peach and apricot pits have enough amygdalin to be poisonous, but that their size prevents ingestion. I'd actually always heard that it was peach pits that were potentially harmful, so it looks like that variant actually is true (assuming one can choke that thing down). – Hendy Jun 17 '11 at 14:19
  • The article mentions seeds and pits. I regularly crack open peach and apricot pits and eat the seeds! But is it the seed or the pit that is poisonous? – Annan Jun 17 '11 at 16:09
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    @Annan: The seeds. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peach and en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almond#Sweet_and_bitter_almonds Bitter tastes are natures way of telling you "Don't eat this!" So don't eat them. – Lennart Regebro Jun 19 '11 at 10:57
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Arsenic in apple seeds is not so easy to discount:

Historically, the use of arsenic-based pesticides has led to considerable contamination of domestic and agricultural land, through their use as lawn herbicides, and insecticides for rice, orchards and cotton.

Thus, there's arsenic in many soils. Arsenic compounds are takn up by apple trees, and do show up in the fruit (ibid). I'd be surprised if arsenic compounds didn't appear in apple seeds when the material is taken up by the tree, but a quick search for actual measurements of Arsenic in apple seeds ran up against the paywall which hides so many academic publications.

  • Example research showing this isn't a real problem: hortsci.ashspublications.org/content/33/5/826.short "The experimental results indicate that MAP starter fertilizer can increase soil As phytoavailability to apple trees grown under field conditions; however, the effects on tree growth and food safety are insignificant." – Oddthinking Feb 25 '12 at 0:53
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    Sure, not a serious problem, but as asked, there's arsenic in apples. – user951 Feb 25 '12 at 14:37
  • Arsenic is more likely naturally occurring in soils than contaminated by relatively small amounts of pesticide spray. And arsenic is actually naturally occurring a good deal in some soils. – fredsbend Jul 13 '15 at 22:32

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