Is cyanide good for you

Almonds are often used as a baking ingredient. In addition to sweet almonds, which can be consumed raw, there are also bitter almonds that are not suitable for raw consumption: Bitter almonds contain amygdalin, a cyanogenic glycoside that splits off highly toxic hydrocyanic acid during the digestive process. If the bitter almond is cooked, the heat-sensitive hydrocyanic acid evaporates to a harmless amount.

The content of hydrocyanic acid in raw bitter almonds is up to 3000 mg / kg. Depending on their body weight, around 5 to 10 bitter almonds can lead to fatal hydrocyanic acid poisoning in children.

The trade has therefore switched to offering bitter almonds only in small packs of 50 g each. The bags are labeled with a warning such as: B. "Use only for cooking and baking. Keep out of the reach of children. Not suitable for raw consumption."

Those who do not want to forego the typical bitter almond taste in their self-made pastries, but are afraid of handling it, can fall back on the bitter almond flavor.

In addition to almonds, other kernels contain amygdalin. For example, sweet and bitter apricot kernels, which have also long been used in the production of food, such as. B. at Persipan. More….

For some time now, bitter apricot kernels have been available in stores for immediate consumption, which involves the same dangers as raw bitter almonds. However, these are not sold in small packaging units, but in bags of 200 g each. Investigations in the Food and Veterinary Institute Braunschweig / Hanover of the LAVES in 2006 showed a level of hydrogen cyanide that was comparable to that of bitter almonds. In six samples from different suppliers, the hydrogen cyanide levels were between 1949 mg / kg and 2934 mg / kg. A warning was only given for one sample. However, this notice was limited to the statement "keep away from children".

The lowest lethal dose for hydrogen cyanide in adults is between 0.5 and 3.5 mg / kg body weight (EFSA 2004).

According to a risk assessment by the British Committee on Toxicity, the intake of cyanides should not exceed 0.02 mg / kg body weight / day. The TMDI value (Temporary Maximum Daily Intake) for hydrocyanic acid is 0.023 mg / kg body weight according to the expert committee "Aromastoffe (2005)".

In the samples examined, the lethal dose for an adult is not yet reached with 10 apricot kernels, but the maximum acceptable intake of 0.02 mg cyanide per kg body weight when only one apricot kernel is consumed.

Bitter apricot kernels are touted as an alternative (highly controversial by medical professionals) cancer treatment and are sold on the Internet as well as in health food stores and health food stores. A common indication on the label is e.g. For example: "Apricot kernels are rich in vitamin B 17", combined with a consumption recommendation of approx. 10 kernels spread over the day. The term "vitamin" suggests that the kernels are beneficial to health and not necessarily harmful if consumed in excess. Vitamin B17 is the name of a pseudovitamin, which is the cyanogenic glycoside amygdalin which splits off hydrogen cyanide and which has no vitamin effect.

The samples "bitter apricot kernels" were therefore rejected as being harmful to health within the meaning of Article 14 (2a) of Regulation (EC) No. 178/2002.

Important to know: apricot kernels that are marketed as "sweet apricot kernels" can also contain significant levels of hydrogen cyanide. Two samples of sweet apricot kernels from Turkey had hydrocyanic acid levels between 200 and 400 mg / kg. In the labeling, the apricot kernels were praised as "a real alternative to almonds. Apricot kernels also taste good as a snack or in your muesli".

Sweet and bitter apricot kernels hardly differ in their appearance. Sorting out bitter kernels is therefore not possible. The samples were objected to.

Pleasing: In 14 other samples of "sweet apricot kernels", also of Turkish origin, the hydrogen cyanide levels were below 70 mg / kg, so that consumption could be classified as harmless.

Note: The amount of two large bitter apricot kernels in adults can be estimated as harmless with regard to acute symptoms of poisoning. The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) therefore advises consumers not to consume more than two bitter apricot kernels per day or to refrain from consuming them completely.

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