A Moment of Science

Seed Swallower

Mmm, there's nothing like a fresh slice of watermelon until, oops, you just swallowed a seed!

watermelon_seeds

Photo: Wendy Longo

A few seeds from fruits such as watermelons or apples passing through your digestive tract won't hurt you.

Mmm, there’s nothing like a fresh slice of watermelon until, oops, you just swallowed a seed!

A few seeds from fruits such as watermelons or apples passing through your digestive tract won’t hurt you, but they won’t help you much either. Nutritionally, there just isn’t much in a seed that your body wants. The worst a seed could do is block your intestine or airway, but that’s really rare.

You may have heard that some seeds contain dangerous chemicals, like cyanide.

There’s some truth to that. Apples, cherries, almonds, and peaches all have seeds or pits that contain a bit of the chemical amygdalin, which can be converted to cyanide by the bacteria natural to the intestinal tract. However, it’s still such a small amount that you probably wouldn’t get sick. Also, seeds don’t stay in your body long. We’re talking 20 to 30 hours to make it through your digestive system, tops. So, swallow away! Or at least don’t worry about it if a seed accidentally slips down your throat.

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