Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By Ron Irwin 

Cyanide in Fruit? Eat Poison Live Long

Apple seeds, cherry, peach and apricot pits which also contain cyanide in the form of amygdalin

 

December 12, 2016

Apple seeds, cherry, peach and apricot pits contain cyanide in the form of amygdalin

Eat Poison Live Long? Yes I know that sounds ridiculous but pay close attention because there is something important to learn about our food you just might not be aware of.

Generally speaking when we consider the wholesomeness of the food we eat we consider things such as freshness and freedom from harsh even dangerous chemicals. More and more people are opting for "organic" foods for their claim of less contamination and indeed they do often even taste better. But totally ignored in this food selection process is the reality that we are often ingesting naturally occurring yet very deadly poisons with the fruits we eat organic or otherwise.

The most common and generally considered to be most deadly poison found naturally in fruit is Cyanide that kills by stopping the body's ability to carry oxygen resulting ultimately in asphyxiation. Cyanide is usually found with other chemicals in compounds such as hydrogen cyanide, cyanogen chloride, sodium cyanide and potassium cyanide. During World War Two the NAZI's used hydrogen cyanide to murder millions of people in their death camps. Yet eat an apple seed and you will be eating a wee bit of cyanide. So does this mean that what that old saying "eat an apple a day to keep the doctor away" really means is "eat an apple a day and you will be visited by the medical examiner?" No not at all.

The amount of cyanide found in apple seeds is minuscule; so much so that eating enough to cause any damage is a virtual impossibility. But then there are cherry, peach and apricot pits which also contain cyanide in the form of amygdalin. But it is extremely difficult to actually eat any of those pits and it would take a staggering number of them before the cyanide would become a true danger. But as much as this conversation about cyanide in our food might seem somewhat whimsical, it is not totally so.

A significant source of naturally occurring cyanide is found in the vegetable known in its native Africa as cassava root and in the Western world as tapioca. But before cassava is shipped to the market it is dried, soaked and baked, a process that renders the cyanide harmless. But if there are errors or omissions in the process the cassava can indeed remain poisonous. So does that mean you should never eat cassava or tapioca? No, but I would highly recommend that to you always stick with a well-known and trusted brand so that your focus on healthy eating doesn't become something quite different than what you intended.

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