A man was snacking on some cherries when, just for the fun of it, he decided to open up a few of the pits and eat the seeds that he found inside. He nearly died from it.
"It was just curiosity and you know what they say about curiosity," 28-year-old father of three Matthew Creme told the BBC of his brush with death on July 17. "I basically just cracked the seed. Inside it there was a soft seed in the middle of it."
Creme, a call center coach, ate three of the seeds.
"[The seed] tasted similar to an almond but with a cherry flavor to it -- I didn't think nothing of it, just thought it was a seed, so I ate it and continued to eat more of it."
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Within 20 minutes, he got a terrible headache and started to feel intensely drowsy. That's when he conducted some online research and realized that the seeds contain a natural substance called amygdalin, which the human body converts to cyanide in fatal doses. He called emergency services and had his partner, 23-year-old Georgina Mason, drive him to the hospital.
"In the car on the way to the hospital, I was calm, I was relaxed and just wanted to go to sleep," he recalled. "Ultimately, cyanide starves your body of oxygen, so wanting to go to sleep is the lack of oxygen. If I'd fell asleep I probably would have stayed asleep."
Creme ended up making a full recovery, but he said that he'd like to see some type of warning on the packaging for cherries and other fruits with parts that could kill people. The Suntrail Farm cherries he bought at a Tesco near his home of Blackpool, England, did not have any disclaimers, he said.
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Though amygdalin levels are regulated in most fruits, people should still avoid eating any pits and seeds, nutritionist Isabel Maples, a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, told Today.
"If you're worried about the danger of eating fruit because of cyanide, I would say not to be worried about that. There's more danger to more people in not eating enough fruit," Maples said.
Even people who accidentally swallow a cherry pit or something similar shouldn't worry, Maples said. Since pits are so hard, they should just pass through the human body without depositing dangerous levels of cyanide.
"The vitamins, minerals, fiber and disease-fighting antioxidants would still be a lot better for us than worrying about the danger of the seeds," she added.