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Is It Safe to Swallow a Cherry Pit?

A person holds a bowl of cherries.
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For many, summer is prime snacking time thanks to all of the fresh fruit available. While you probably already know it’s watermelon and peach season, cherries are also bountiful. But when you’re snacking on them, can you eat the pit?

While seeds from watermelon are completely safe to consume, cherry pits should never be eaten and can even be dangerous.

Here’s the good news, if you accidentally eat one or two cherry pits, you’re unlikely to see side effects. However, chewing and swallowing cherry pits is what’s truly dangerous.

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That’s because cherry pits, also known as kernels, contain amygdalin. When ingested, this chemical gets converted to the toxic hydrogen cyanide in the body. Hydrogen cyanide in your body can lead to oxygen transportation issues and cause organ damage. You can experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, headache, nausea, and even seizures.

Most people are unlikely to keep chewing cherry pits to the point that they cause actual toxicity or damage, but if you have children you might want to keep an eye. If someone does chew them, you should monitor them for symptoms and contact your physician if needed.

The next time you’re taking advantage of summer’s fruit and grabbing cherries from the grocery, be sure to skip the pits. And if you’ve ever wondered what actually happens when you swallow a watermelon seed, it’s really not that scary.

Shea Simmons Shea Simmons
Shea Simmons is an Atlanta-based writer who has written about everything from whether Crisco is a good moisturizer to how to KonMari your space. Her work has appeared in Bustle, My First Apartment, and Make It Grateful. Read Full Bio »
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