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Fruit Seeds May Contain Anticancer Properties

Beverley has a degree in science and additional certifications in nutrition and aromatherapy. She's published on and offline.

Can fruit seeds cure cancer?

Can fruit seeds cure cancer?

I don’t know about you, but I discard the seeds and skins of the fruits I eat unless it’s near impossible to do. However, with recent reports suggesting that certain fruit seeds contain anticancer compounds, I may have to reconsider throwing away those fruit parts.

According to a Frontiers article, researchers have been studying pomace nutrients in fruits like apples and dates to determine their usefulness in human health. Flavonoids, other phenolic compounds, proteins, minerals, and vitamins seem to show some bioactivity with regard to cardiovascular diseases, neurological diseases, cancer, and other health issues.

So, besides apples and dates, which fruit seeds offer potential anticancer benefits? And what are the specific compounds in those seeds?

Note there is no medical evidence to support that any fruit seeds, including apples and dates, can cure, treat, or prevent any disease. Always consult your healthcare provider for diagnoses, accurate medical information, and permission before taking any food as medicine or supplements.

Apple With Seeds

Apple With Seeds

Apple Seeds

Apples are one of the world’s most popular fruits. We know the flesh contains nutrients that boost our health so we can combat diseases, including cancer. But what do the seeds offer?

Apple Seeds Anticancer Compounds

B-17 or Amygdalin

Research shows that apple seeds contain a compound called B-17 or Amygdalin. Laetrile, a man-made form of this chemical substance was patented in the 1950s for cancer use. In 1980, the FDA banned its use in the United States.

When B-17 is digested, it breaks down into thiocyanate and benzoic acid by rhodanese an enzyme in our healthy cells. Cancer cells do not contain rhodanese. They contain the enzyme beta-glucosidase which conversely isn’t in our healthy cells.

When B-17 makes contact with beta-glucosidase, the resulting reaction between hydrogen cyanide and benzaldehyde creates a compound that kills cancer cells.

The type of cancer cells that seems most susceptible to this lethal substance are the brain, bladder, and prostate. Other studies suggest B-17 may be dangerous if consumed in high doses.

Polyphenols

Newer studies suggest that apple seeds contain flavonols like dihydrochalcones which may prevent cancers, especially in the brain. Scientists are using these phenolic compounds in novel treatments to prevent cancers.

Using Apple Seeds as Nutraceuticals

Apple seeds are being made into nutraceuticals or functional foods such as flour for bread and cakes. They are also being processed into oils.

Side Effects of Apple Seeds Anticancer Compounds

While some studies show B-17 to be a promising anticancer agent, others show it to have no effect.

Also, ingesting too much amygdalin could be fatal because of its cyanide component.

Blackberries

Blackberries

Blackberry Seeds

Blackberries belong to the Rosaceae family. Different species developed in different parts of the world. This makes the blackberry’s true origin difficult to identify.

The entire fruit, including seeds, has enough phenolic compounds with bioactivity to prevent cancer.

Blackberry Seeds and Anticancer Compounds

For most of us, blackberry seeds get in the way because they’re so tiny and hard to digest. But before we discredit them, we should know that they contain ellagic acid, resveratrol, and anthocyanins. Research has shown that these powerful polyphenols may have the therapeutic properties to fight various cancers.

Research suggests ellagic acid, for instance, is metabolized by our gut microbiota. When this environment is healthy and balanced, it aids in cancer protection, especially colon cancer.

Side Effects of Blackberry Seeds Anticancer Compounds

Overconsumption of blackberry seeds may cause cramps and other stomach ailments like gas and diarrhea.

Date seed (sprouting)

Date seed (sprouting)

Date Seeds

The date fruit has been cultivated as a Middle Eastern food source for at least 6,000 years. A member of the Arecaceae, the palm plant is believed to have originated in the Persian Gulf.

Spiritual documents indicate that dates have been used as a functional food to treat and even cure diseases. Modern research implies that antioxidant compounds in both fruit and seeds may indeed support the treatment and prevention of diseases including chronic ones like cancer.

Compounds with antioxidant activity, for instance, stop free radical action which leads to chronic diseases such as cancer.

Date Fruit

Date Fruit

Date Seeds Anticancer Compounds

There has been an indication of high contents of flavonoids like carotenoids, other phenols such as hydroxycinnamic acids, epicatechins, and catechins, and vitamin E in date seeds or pits.

Studies show that these compounds' ability to stop free radical action may them effective weapons against cancers. One study, in particular, looked at breast cancer and the ability of date seed extract to treat this disease.

Using Date Seeds as Functional Foods

Date seed powders are available as an alternative to non-caffeinated coffee with the coffee taste. The powder can also be used as flour for bread and cookies or as a smoothie ingredient. Date seed extract is also used to manufacture cooking oils and syrup. On a personal note, I find date syrup a wonderful, healthy addition to pancakes and ice cream.

Side Effects of Date Seeds Anticancer Compounds

Date seeds seem relatively safe to consume, but more research is needed to be certain. It’s best to err on the side of caution, especially if you have medical issues, are pregnant, or breastfeeding.

Guava with seeds (& guava oil)

Guava with seeds (& guava oil)

Guava Seeds

The guava tree is a member of the Myrtaceae family. Historical evidence points to Central and South America and the Caribbean as its origin.

Americans may not be familiar with guava, but as a child of the Caribbean, I grew up enjoying many delights made from this fruit, including jelly, cheese, and ice cream. Even in the homemade versions of these foods, the seeds were considered byproducts.

Today there’s evidence that the nutrients in guava seeds may help us manage or prevent cancer and other diseases.

Guava Seeds Anticancer Compounds

Research suggests that guava seeds have richer veins of anticancer compounds including vitamins C and E, hydroxycinnamic acid/ coumaric acid, carotenoids, the flavonoids quercetin, catechins, gallic acid, kaempferol, and galangin than guava flesh.

The effects of these compounds on human breast, lung, liver, and colon cancer cells were studied. Researchers believed that they were quite promising.

Using Guava Seeds as Nutraceuticals

Guava residue including seeds is manufactured into powder, flour, cooking oil, and other products.

Side Effects of Guava Seeds Anticancer Compounds

There is no strong evidence of side effects with regard to guava seed consumption. However, caution should be exercised if you have adverse health issues, is pregnant, or breastfeeding.

Potential Anticancer Nutrients in Fruit Seeds

Fruit SeedsPotential Anticancer Compounds They Contain

Apple Seeds

Amygdalin (B-17), flavonols/dihydrochalcones

Blackberry Seeds

Ellagic acid, resveratrol, anthocyanins

Date Seeds/ Pits

carotenoids, hydroxycinnamic acids, epicatechins, catechins, vitamins C and E

Guava Seeds

hydroxycinnamic acid/coumaric acid, carotenoids, flavonoids quercetin, catechins, gallic acid, kaempferol, and galangin

Bottom Line

Research on fruit and vegetable seeds are revealing many powerful compounds that may be beneficial to human health.

In this article, we reviewed the seeds of apples, blackberries, dates, and guava. Studies suggest that they contain several antioxidant and anticancer polyphenolics and other components such as amygdalin, flavonols, carotenoids, anthocyanins, resveratrol, hydroxycinnamic acids, vitamins C and E.

Research results show their potential effectiveness against breast, lung, liver, and colon cancers in particular.

Fruit seeds are part of the pomace being currently used to manufacture functional foods such as flours and oils. When we consume these fruits in the future, we should remember that their seeds may offer some health benefits as well.

Fruit Seeds

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Beverley Byer