[nafex] Apricot kernels

David Consolvo fruitopia at firstva.com
Mon Jan 16 11:39:04 EST 2012

By the way, cyanide, while potentially acutely lethal, has little danger in small 
amounts over the long term.  It is not known to cause cancer like tiny amounts of 
carcinogens can, and it does not accumulate in the body like some toxic metals do.  
There have been health problems found with chronic exposure at industrial jobs 
when breathing cyanide, but that's probably quite a heavy exposure.  And there 
have been chronic health problems found with high cassava diet, theorized to 
possibly to be related the cyanide in cassava, but then people who live on cassava 
tend to have lots of other dietary problems.  But I don't worry about eating small 
amounts of apricot kernels over the long term.

Thanks to Melissa for her internet research, and to Chiranjit for his many 
contributions over the years from a south Asian perspective.  We don't get enough 
info from outside the "N.A." portion of NAFEX.

~David Consolvo, MD
Hungrytown, Virginia

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: Melissa Kacalanos <mijwiz at yahoo.com>
Reply-To: Melissa Kacalanos <mijwiz at yahoo.com>,nafex mailing list at ibiblio 
<nafex at lists.ibiblio.org>
Date:  Mon, 16 Jan 2012 07:24:20 -0800 (PST)

>Now that I'm googling apricot kernels, I'm finding lots of vendors (including 
Americans) selling ordinary, bitter, poisonous apricot kernels as if they were a 
health food. That may have been the case with these Pakistani imports, with 
someone trying to make money selling what's otherwise a useless agricultural 
waste product. There's much less regulation and enforcement of this sort of thing 
than we think there is.
>However, there are some cultivars of apricot that do lack the genes that would 
enable them to make cyanide. Kernels from these cultivars are safe and delicious. I 
see 'Harcot' listed as one of these sweet-pit varieties, so they should be safe to eat 
in quantity. I'm having trouble finding a more complete listing of sweet-pit apricot 
cultivars, though. I see mention online that these have sweet pits: 'Chinese,' 
'Hunza,' 'Robada,' 'Montrose,' 'Canadian White Blenheim'... There must be a list 
online somewhere, but I'm not finding it.
>-----Original Message----- 
>From: David Consolvo
>Sent: Monday, January 16, 2012 6:17 AM
>To: nafex ibiblio mailing list
>Subject: [nafex ibiblio list] Apricot kernels
>I find that kernels of the apricot "Harcot" are delicious, very almond-like. 
>I limit
>myself to five at a time, though, since apricot kernels have cyanide.
>Wikipedia says that despite being used/eaten in central Asia and around the
>"In 1993, the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets tested 
>cyanide content of two 220 gram (8oz) packages of apricot kernels that were
>imported from Pakistan which were being sold in health-food stores as a 
>The results showed that each package, if consumed entirely, contained at 
>double the minimum lethal dosage of cyanide for an adult human. The apricot 
>were recalled and removed from stores.[3] In spite of this, there were no 
>deaths and only one serious toxicity from apricot kernels reported from 1979 
>1998.[4] On average, an apricot kernel contains about 0.5 mg of cyanide."
>~David Consolvo
>Hungrytown, Virginia
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