What happens if you swallow a cherry pit?

Cherries are tasty and they're quite nutritious — they're packed with vitamin A, potassium, calcium, folic acid, and fiber, and they're also not loaded with calories, notes BBC. However, lurking within each cherry lies a pit, also known as a stone. While you may not worry about swallowing a watermelon seed, a cherry pit might give you pause, as it contains a chemical that the human body converts to cyanide. While this sounds pretty alarming, swallowing a cherry pit is highly unlikely to harm you. Here's why.

The stone inside each cherry is actually the hard shell that surrounds the seed, and not the seed itself. According to Poison Control, small amounts of unintentional pit swallowing shouldn't hurt you for a few reasons. For one, in order for the chemical (called amygdalin) to be released, the stone must be crushed or chewed, which humans aren't apt to do, especially in the case of an accidental swallowing. Also, when someone accidentally sends a pit down into their stomach, they're not likely to keep doing it over and over.

The possibility isn't exclusive to cherries, either. Other stone fruits, such as apricots, plums, peaches, mangoes, and nectarines also have the same chemical residing in their pits. These stones are quite a bit bigger than cherry pits (which are, of course, tiny), which means they're less likely to be accidentally swallowed. 

In order to become sick from cherry pits, it will likely take some solid effort, as one man in the UK discovered after chewing open a cherry pit and eating the nut he found inside. He liked it so much that he did it two more times, and almost died as a result (via The Independent).

Like gum, cherry pits are not digestible, so they'll pass through your gastrointestinal system intact and will eventually wind up in the toilet. If you do accidentally swallow a cherry pit, you'll most likely be totally fine — just don't make a habit of it, and definitely do not chew on or crush them.