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Is there any harm in swallowing watermelon seeds? Or will they simply pass from one end to the other?

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I hope you aren't worried about a watermelon growing in your tummy. –  hobodave Aug 9 '10 at 16:46
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But... I don't wanna watermelon bursting out of my tummy like an Alien! ...Actually I was thinking more along the lines of cyanide in apple seed coatings. –  Daniel Bingham Aug 9 '10 at 16:47
    
There is no cyanide in an apple seed coating. I'll update my answer with some more info. –  hobodave Aug 9 '10 at 16:49
    
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@hobodave: I swallowed an orange seed when I was young and was afraid it would grow out of my mouth. My dad assured me that's not how it works ...it'd grow out of my butt. Thanks dad. –  Dinah Aug 9 '10 at 22:35
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4 Answers

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Um, no.

You can even buy them.

The only common potentially dangerous seeds I know of belong to almonds, apples, apricots, peaches, plums, cherries, and other stone fruits. These contain a cyanide and sugar compound known as amygdalin. When metabolized it breaks down into hydrogen cyanide (HCN). In all cases the toxin is inside the seeds and will not be exposed to the body unless the seeds are chewed. Of these, the only seed commonly consumed would be the apple seed, usually inadvertently, or by daring children. It would take a large amount (can't find a reliable reference - one source said 1 cup) of well chewed seeds to poison you. Regarding almonds, only the bitter almonds have cyanide levels to be concerned about (we eat sweet almonds).

So, besides the apple, these all belong to the Prunus genus of plants. Cyanide is just their thing. Watermelon belongs to the Citrullus genus.

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To quote Gabriel García Márquez: It was inevitable, the scent of bitter almonds always reminded him of the fate of unrequited love. –  KevDog Aug 9 '10 at 17:12
    
See gardenguides.com/…. Other than apples and cherries -"Peach and apricot pits contain amygdalin in more dangerous amounts, but those seeds are too large to swallow accidentally. And you'd have to pry open the pit to get at the cyanide-bearing kernel in the first place." –  nzpcmad Aug 9 '10 at 23:08
    
@nzpcmad: Thanks. I left that out because I've never known someone to actually try that. :) –  hobodave Aug 10 '10 at 15:26
    
FWIW, when eating apples out of hand I generally do eat the core, seeds and all - unless spoiled, they're quite tasty. –  Shog9 Sep 12 '10 at 22:01
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There's a fringe group of naturalists/alternative-medicine practitioners who swear that the poison Hobodave mentioned also cures cancer and has been suppressed by the FDA and pharmaceutical companies in a big conspiracy. I'll let you decide...

A better question: Aren't most of your watermelons seedless by now? I haven't eaten a "seeded" melon for a few years at least.

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I hate seedless watermelons! Half the fun is spitting the seeds. (lol @ cyanide cancer cure conspiracy theories) –  hobodave Aug 9 '10 at 22:17
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Theories would be funnier if people didn't believe them so blindly. Seeds make watermelon into weapons. I'm a fruit-pacifist. –  Ocaasi Aug 9 '10 at 22:29
    
And the seedless watermelons are bland. :( –  Arafangion Jul 24 '11 at 7:18
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I bought white watermelon seeds which were supposed to be eaten as you would pumpkin seeds. I chewed everything well. They were delicious.

However, a few hours later, I became ill; vomiting with diarrhea. I did not have a fever or aches & pains as with the flu. I do believe it was from the watermelon seeds.

Fortunately, I was fine the next day.

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Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are common snacks where I live. They come toasted and salted. In order to eat them you remove the husk and then eat the inner part. I've often bitten watermelon seeds when eating that fruit, but they don't seem to have that outer husk. How did you eat them? –  J.A.I.L. Jan 11 '13 at 7:34
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A nutritionist told me that the seeds of a watermelon are good for you, that they cleanse toxins from your body, so to make sure to swallow the seeds.

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terry - Think it would be good to cite this information, as I (Like others, from the votes on this question, probably) believe this information to be lacking empirical evidence. –  user66001 Aug 4 '13 at 19:14
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