Can you eat peach pits

In this paper, I will answer the question “Can you eat peach pits” and I’ll explain the potential hazards or effects it may have.

Can you eat peach pits?

It’s not safe to eat peach pits. Stone fruits have cyanide chemicals in their seeds that are poisonous. 

Although accidental ingestion of a few pits or seeds is unlikely to cause poisoning, it should be avoided to crush or blend seeds and to eat them.

When pits are eaten whole, the amount of cyanide released is low, but when they are chewed, the toxicity rises.

However, peach kernels can be used for oil and protein extraction, thus it contains 63.8% oleic acid, 15.4% linoleic acid, 20.7% saturated acids and 27.5% (w/w) protein, from which up to 32–34 g/100 g of total amino acids found in apricot kernels are essential amino acids. Studies show that peach kernels flour is a rich source of antioxidants and fibers (3).

What are peach pits types?

The relation between the pit and the peach flesh is used to classify peaches. To put it another way, how well the flesh adheres to the pit. So, how can you distinguish between clingstone and freestone? (4).

  • Clingstone peach: Fruit on a clingstone peach does not fall off the pit. These peaches are delicious to eat, but not recommended for canning or freezing. These kinds are available from the middle of May until the beginning of June.
  • Freestone peach: Fruit from a freestone peach falls right off the pit. These peaches are ideal for eating, freezing, and canning. Simply cut the peach along the center and take it away from the pit. They’ll be accessible from the middle of June to the middle of August.

What happens when you eat peach pits?

Peach pits contain amygdalin, which releases cyanide when exposed to alkaline conditions, as in our upper intestine. A lethal dose can be obtained from about 100 gr of ground peach pit. Cyanogenic glycosides are considered non-toxic untilcyanide is released. This usually occurs as a result of enzymatic hydrolysis by β-glucosidases following grinding of plant tissue which activates intracellular β-glucosidases, or by the gut microflora. This reaction can also result from chewing (2). Hydrogen cyanide is a chemical compound extremely poisonous, because it binds irreversibly to the iron atom in hemoglobin, making it unavailable to transport the vital O2 to the body’s cells and tissues. The dose should not be excessive and any excessive dose may cause headache, blurred vision, palpitations, or even death from respiratory failure. However, the concentration of hydrogen cyanide in the peach kernel is small (0.45e2.6 mg/g) (1).

To release cyanide from pits, the seed coat must be broken by chewing, allowing the intestinal tract’s enzymatic fluids to finish the conversion to the very lethal cyanide. The classic onset is highly rapid, resulting in rapid respirations, cellular anoxia, the production of bright-red blood, and terminal seizures, all of which lead to death within 10 to 30 minutes of swallowing the freely available active toxin.

Although peach pits contain trace levels of cyanide, it would take a large number of peach seeds (theoretically) to cause serious harm to a person. Peaches aren’t the only fruit with cyanide-related poisons; cyanide-containing pits can also be found in apples, cherries, apricots, plums and nectarines. Besides, food raw materials that are widely used worldwide contain natural cyanide, which is removed by processing (3).

Thankfully, the coat of the peach’s inner pit is difficult to break, making peaches themselves non-hazardous to eat!

You can use the peach pit for direct consumption if you handle it appropriately. “Hydrogen cyanide is not a heat-stable chemical and does not survive cooking,” according to The Food Safety Hazard Guidebook, “which is why some recipes call for roasting stone fruit pits.”, writes Jean Nick for Good Housekeeping.

What can you use peach pits for?

Even if peach pits are not always recommended for direct consumption, they can have a multitude of other uses. Here are some examples:

  • Growing a peach tree from seeds: Fall is the best time to grow peach seeds. They should be planted in well-draining soil with compost or other organic matter added if possible. Plant the peach pit 3 to 4 inches (8-10 cm) deep and cover it with an inch (2.5 cm) of straw or similar mulch to protect it during the winter. Irrigate the peach during the planting process and then only when the soil is completely dry. Sprouting should begin in the spring, and a new peach seedling should emerge.
  • Adding nutrients to your garden’s soil: Compost supplemented with nutrients can be added to the soil in your garden or potted plants to enrich the soil. Fruit pits can be useful for this purpose. All that is required is that you incorporate the pits into the composting process.
  • Extracting oil from peach pits: Peach kernel oil can be obtained from cold-extraction of peach seeds. It is a nourishing, regenerating, and moisturizing oil that helps to soothe sensitive and inflamed skin while also being a helpful therapy for dry and older skin. It’s perfect for massage mixtures, especially facial massages. 

Peach kernel contains almost 50 wt% of oils. Peach kernel oil contains unsaturated fatty acid and antioxidant constituents. Fatty acids, especially unsaturated fatty acids, are important as nutritional substances and metabolites in living organisms. Many kinds of fatty acids play an important role in the regulation of a variety of physiological and biological functions. The main fatty acids found in peach kernel oil are about 58% oleic acid and 32% linoleic acid (1). 

Other FAQs about Peaches that you may be interested in.

How to preserve peaches

Conclusion

In this paper, I answered the question: “Can you eat peach pits?” and gave more details abouts the potential hazards and risks associated with seeds consumption. I also listed alternative uses of peach pits on other non-food applications.

Feel free to contact me if you have any questions related to this subject.

References

  1. Wu, Hao, et al. Essential oil extracted from peach (Prunus persica) kernel and its physicochemical and antioxidant properties. LWT-Food Sci Technol, 2011, 44, 2032-2039.
  2. Cassiem, W., de Kock, M. The anti-proliferative effect of apricot and peach kernel extracts on human colon cancer cells in vitro. BMC Complement Altern Med, 2019, 19, 32. 
  3. Pelentir, Norberto, et al. Production and chemical characterization of peach (Prunus persica) kernel flour. J Food Process Eng, 2011, 34, 1253-1265.
  4. Smith, Stephanie A., Ilce G. Medina-Meza, and Girish M. Ganjyal. Peaches: Value-added food products. 2017.