Friday, 25 January 2008

Do you eat the pips?

Were you ever told that, if you ate apple pips, an apple tree would grow inside you? Do you leave the core of apples? Do you happily eat pumpkin seeds, but remove melon pips?

Many believe that we're missing a trick health-wise if we don't eat the pips. For example, Arnold Ehret, one of the founders of the naturopathic health movement 'followed a high-fruit diet consisting mainly of apples and raisins with some green leaves.'

And in Ehret's time not only the apples but also the raisins would have included seeds, which would have supplied fat and other nutrients, suggesting that as long as we eat whole undamaged foods we can be healthy on a surprisingly 'limited' diet.

Many believe there are health benefits in consuming all sorts of seeds. For example, raw food promoter David Wolfe recommends eating orange pips as 'they are nourishing and contain anti-fungal qualities'. David also advocates eating fiery papaya seeds, to 'burn out' parasites in the digestive system, but I find myself thinking that their hot, and, to be honest, not very pleasant taste might just be an indication that we shouldn't be eating them...(this would be the Natural Hygiene view)

Some people are loath to eat apple pips because they've heard they contain cyanide. Well, they do (as do the seeds of apricots, peaches and other fruits) but in such tiny amounts that you'd have to eat a very large amount to experience any ill-effects. Also, recent research suggests that cyanide, when present in tiny amounts, might have had an undeservedly bad press in the past, with evidence suggesting that the cyanide and vitamin B17 present in certain pips can fight cancerous cells when it comes into contact with them. Please note that I am NOT suggesting anyone swig pure cyanide, as that would be dangerous :-) However, others claim that if the cyanide fights cancerous cells, it's just as likely to 'fight' healthy cells too...I'd suggest that we shouldn't worry if we accidentally consume a few with our apples, but perhaps not crunch them up in large quantities...

Leaving apples aside, as they may be a 'special case', should we swallow or chew? Well, perhaps we should just 'eat' without thinking too hard about what we're doing, as any or all of the following could happen (none of which would be a problem): some pips might fall out of the fruit as we're eating it, unchewed pips may 'go straight through us' (and after all, if we lived in the wild without toilet facilities, those pips would move from us into the ground to grow more food - how wonderful that would be), and pips that are chewed would provide our bodies with nutrients.

Arguments for eating pips are persuasive, and many people do eat pips that others would discard (in Thailand melon seeds are sold as a snack). And let's ask the supermarkets to put the pips back into our grapes! The more pips in our fruit the closer to the natural types they are. The less seeds, the more hybridised and weak the strains.

What do I do? I cut open a watermelon recently and ate the flesh and the pips (feeling a bit of a daredevil). It was much less fiddly than removing them and I enjoyed it just as much if not more than usual.

And this is what remains of the last apple I ate. But I didn't try too hard to chew the pips...just in case!


E*phi said...

Hi Debbie,

I personally don't have a official "pip policy", it really depends on
the fruit and my mood and other circumstances if I eat them. I do
love papaya seeds (just discovered them recently after reading a
thread on goneraw), I would even buy them without the fruit around if
I could ;)
I'm ok with stuff like apple, pear and some other pips, although I
don't like the taste too much, as it reminds me of marzipan (which I
detest almost as much as grapefruit ;) ) and I eat them when I'm too
lazy to find the next bin (inside a building) for example.
However, I can't eat lemon or orange seeds, they're too bitter for me.

I read in a forum about pomegranate and people actually spitting out
the seeds... that really stunned me, it must take hours to eat one
fruit (and apart from that, the crunchy seeds make up a big part of
the fun eating them, in my opinion) :)

Nothing to do with eating pips and health benefits, but:
I also love to collect beautiful "rare" ones! Eg. when I have a
cherimoya, tamarind or some other luxurious exotic treat, I save the
seeds, plant some and keep the others (just to play with them, since
they are so "soft" and smooth and beautiful, or integrate them in
paintings etc...).

Love, light and laughter,

Debbie Took said...

'Integrate them in paintings' - such a beautiful idea. How could anyone throw away the pips after reading that?:-)

* said...

Funny, I was just looking up "Why apple pips taste of marzipam", something I'd noticed years ago but only just re-noticed (sic) moments ago. They do, don't they? Still, I kinda like marzipam. It's a strange taste, a fantasy taste - if you will. Like it was invented in Alice In Wonderland, or The Matrix - but then again, it would just taste of chicken, wouldn't it? Normally I would put them between thinger-and-fumb and aim at an object, preferably something made of metal for that gratifying saloon-bar sound. However, for the full enjoyment of its dintinctive marzipamesque taste I do suggest you remove the jacket of the pip between your teeth; it will only spoil it as the jacket tastes very bitter. If anyone can explain why apple pips do indeed taste like marzipam I promise to get out more.

Debbie Took said...

Hi John
Apple pips have traces of cyanide and B17 in them, and so do apricot kernels and scientific trials have suggested that the cyanide/B17 combo can fight cancer (but a) tentative, I think and b) I don't have the details.). Now - apricot kernels not only look like almonds, but I've heard they also have an almond-y taste. Almonds make marzipan SO...I'm guessing that there's something common to apple seeds, apricot kernels and almonds that's giving them the same test. (Readers - do NOT swig cyanide to see if it tastes of marzipan...) Anyway, I should get out more, as although it's cold in the UK, the sun's shining right now, and I should be out there...but such an interesting question - thanks!

Debbie Took said...

Well, I couldn't leave it there.

I've been googling, and it seems very likely that it's the cyanide that's accounting for the marzipan taste in the apple pips, as it's also found in small traces in almonds.

Hope you're going to keep your promise, John!

Debbie Took said...

And now Evi, who's a student of chemistry, has confirmed that it's definitely the cyanide, as cyanide does smell like marzipan. She also says 'it's quite intense (although quite a high percentage of people cannot smell it genetically - which is quite dangerous when working with it.)
Thanks, Evi - fascinating!

Unknown said...

I go by the logic that nature doesn't want us to ruin the fruit seeds. We get to eat the fruit, the fruit gets to spread through us. Eating the parent then going to work on the young would be ungrateful at best! On a serious note, I find that some seeds taste much too bitter (grapes), clearly a "DON'T CHEW ME" sign. Then again, accidentally chewing the seeds can easily occur, and may be natural.

Eating the seeds whole is fine, but then the "added nutrition" argument is void by default since they pass right through.

If the pips are small and/or hard to remove, I'll swallow them. Watermelon (the seeds are embedded throughout the flesh, it's impossible to not eat them!), tomatoes, kiwi and the like.
I won't eat the seeds of apples, pears, citrus fruits, peppers, grapes, as mentioned, but other than the last, that's more out of habit than anything.

I think you'll be fine as long as you don't try to convince yourself of the health benefits of eating mango stones.

Debbie Took said...

Hi Jonas

But in nature aren't there some creatures who eat seeds? Birds? (I'm not sure.) Perhaps nature says that even if we eat (tiny) seeds, some of them at least will pass through us and in that way the plant is spread.

Anyhow, no, I haven't started crunching up mango stones (I need my teeth and...I don't find them appetising :-), BUT on another note, I've just got one to sprout, and I have a miniature mango tree! Shame it won't ever bear fruit in the UK.

Patrick said...

G'day Debbie, great article.
I have been enjoying your blog posts for months now. They have been very helpful in answering some of my questions.

I have been eating apple cores whole, pips and all for years now. It just seemed natural.
I also eat the watermelon seeds, mostly cos it is easier to than not c:
I was going to ask people on the 30 bananas a day forum if they also ate the seeds of whole fruits. Then I saw your post. Thank you for the information.
I just looked up water melon seeds on cronometer and they are packed full of vitamins and minerals. Particularly copper, iron, manganese, magnesium, zinc and phosphorous. They also contain sodium, potassium and calcium, folate and B vitamins one through to 6. They contain a lot of lipids so it is an easy source for fats. The values were for dried kernels not for fresh out of the melon.

My view has been that nature wouldn't make a tasty appealing food with a poisonous substance inside of it, that would just be ridiculous. Therefore, as you implied, only ridiculous amounts of apple seeds would be detrimental and I reckon your body would let you know via a change in taste when its desired limit had been reached. I eat some orange seeds, they begin to be okay then after a few they start tasting really bitter and then I spit them out.

One commenter said that they enjoy papaya seeds, yet many, including me find them bitter. I reckon that our bodies let us know what is desirable for an individual at any one time, thus some will find one seed tasty while another will find the same seed not so tasty.

Have a great one c:
Pat (Soul Fruit on 30BAD)

Debbie Took said...

Hi Patrick

Great comments - thanks! And agree with your last paragraph. In line with 'instinctive eating' theory (Schaeffer).

Regulus A. Ballard said...

I read somewhere that mango seeds when dried and pulverised can be used much like flour.