Global Food Myths #18: Do swallowed orange seeds cause appendicitis?

LSG Group experts clarify food myths from around the world – Episode 18 is about orange seeds.

Biting into a slice of orange could be so wonderful – if the delicious fruit was not hiding any seeds which have to be spat back out. After all, if swallowed, it’s possible that these little troublemakers reach the appendix and cause an inflammation. Or is the fear completely unfounded and is simply a children’s horror story? Fritz Gross, Head of Culinary Excellence of LSG Group in the Asia-Pacific region, explains.

“It can actually happen that an orange pip gets into the gut and inflames the appendix – but the probability is very low, so an accidentally swallowed seed is no cause for concern,” says Gross.

The same applies to apple seeds, but not to cherry pits. Although a cherry pit can get into the gut, it cannot penetrate the more sensitive appendix. They are usually simply too large to pass through the small opening. Nevertheless, caution is advised: cherry pits, like many other stone fruit, contain small amounts of amygdalin, which is converted to hydrocyanic acid in the body.

Anyone who swallows orange seeds typically has nothing to fear. In fact, they might even have done themselves some good – provided they have yet to bite into them and tasted the bitterness. The seeds of citrus fruits are said to be rich in fiber, secondary plant compounds and antioxidants.

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