Apples, along with cherries, peaches and almonds, are members of the rose family. The seeds of apples and these other fruits contain natural chemicals that are toxic to some animals. But are they poisonous to humans? Here’s a look at the toxicity of apple seeds.

Apple seeds contain small amount of cyanide, which is a lethal poison, but the hard seed coating of the fruit provides some measure of protection. Apple seeds have a strong outer layer that is resistant to digestive juices, but if you chew the seeds, amygdalin could be released in the body which would then produce cyanide.

Small amounts can be detoxified by enzymes in the body, because the dose of toxins is small. Large amounts, though can be dangerous. According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, you would need to finely chew and eat about 200 apple seeds, or about 20 apple cores, to receive a fatal dose.

The Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry says that exposure to even small amounts of cyanide can be dangerous. Exposure to cyanide can harm the heart and brain, and even lead to coma and death. As such, it is advisable to avoid eating the seeds of apples.

Symptoms of cyanide poisoning can occur rapidly, and these may include shortness of breath and seizures, both of which can lead to loss of consciousness.