Why can you eat some seeds, but not others?

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You probably already know that a seed is like a tiny plant waiting to be planted so it can grow! Have you ever thought about how helpful seeds are? Not only are they essential to the continued life of plants, but they also provide us with food! In fact, you probably eat many more seeds than you even realize!   

Name a few seeds that you’re used to eating. The seeds of fruits and vegetables like strawberries, cucumbers, tomatoes, kiwis, and pumpkins might quickly come to mind. But did you know that beans are also seeds? And nuts, too? Although we often separate them as different things when it comes to eating, most beans and nuts are actually the seeds of plants! 

The factors that determine which seeds we eat and which we do not are usually taste and health qualities. Think about the different seeds you eat and what they have in common. For example, the seeds you eat (like a walnut or the seeds of a kiwi) are easy to chew. They’re also healthy (particularly seeds like beans and nuts) and we know that our bodies can digest them. 

Now think about some types of seeds that we don’t eat, and what they have in common. Some foods with seeds that we don’t eat include apricots, peaches, cherries, and apples. You might have realized that these seeds are all too large to swallow or too tough to chew. We don’t eat seeds when we know that our teeth or our stomachs can’t handle them, or when we know that they taste yucky or can make us sick.

It’s mostly thanks to thousands of years of practice and passing down knowledge that humans have learned which seeds to eat and which to discard! – If you’re ever eating a new food and you aren’t sure about the seeds, just ask a grown-up what you should do! 


by   (whyzz writer)
  • Further information

    - There are some types of seeds that we avoid because they contain small amounts of toxins that can make us sick if eaten in large quantities. This includes the seeds of apples, cherries, and apricots. Luckily, these seeds would be so unpleasant or difficult to eat that it’s unlikely you’ll ever eat so many that it could be a problem. 

    - Some people also don’t eat certain seeds, particularly nuts, because they are allergic. 

  • Exploration

    Sizing up seeds

    Have you ever noticed that not all seeds are exactly the same?

    Think about the different shapes and sizes of various seeds you’re familiar with. Why do you think some seeds are bigger and others are smaller? Why might they need to be different shapes or textures or colors? Do you think that the qualities of a seed are at all similar to the qualities of the plant it grows??

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