But experts say the report offers only one small window into the bigger problem. Heavy metals are found in a wide variety of foods, but limited testing and lack of labeling requirements keep consumers in the dark. However, there are steps you can take to limit your exposure and protect your family.
What are the risks of eating foods containing heavy metals?
Some metals, such as iron, are essential for health. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), other substances, such as lead and cadmium, do nothing for the body in abundance and are toxic even in large amounts.
For example, there is no level of lead that is considered safe, but it becomes more dangerous as it accumulates in the body. Children are the most serious risk because their bodies are small and they are still growing. According to the CDC, lead exposure can affect almost any organ system, but it’s especially dangerous for the central nervous system, including the brain. Blood levels as low as 10 µg/L may slow neurodevelopment in children. In both children and adults, lead can affect memory and cause conditions such as anemia, stomach problems, and high blood pressure.
On the other hand, long-term exposure to cadmium can lead to stomach problems and can damage the kidneys, both in children and adults.
The recent discovery that a popular chocolate bar is laced with lead did not surprise Dr. Robert Wright, professor of environmental medicine at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. Some contamination is inevitable. Dark chocolate isn’t a staple food, so you (especially kids) probably won’t be eating much to be with.brand consumer report Lead and cadmium are said to be the most abundant). Wright adds that he hopes the buzz around Dark His chocolate will spur companies to take a closer look at why some bars contain more heavy metals than others.
Why do foods contain heavy metals?
Many heavy metals, including lead and cadmium, occur naturally in soil and enter the food supply from the ground. I have.
Lead, for example, was used in gasoline in the United States for decades until it was banned in 1996, diffused into the atmosphere, settled in the ground, and remains in the soil to this day, says Wright. have a measurable amount [of heavy metals] It’s in almost every food,” he says.
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The FDA warns the public that other foods may contain unsafe amounts of heavy metals, such as mercury in fish and arsenic in rice. Mercury is released into fish by runoff from natural sources such as volcanic eruptions, the waste products of certain human activities such as burning coal for fuel, burning municipal waste, and runoff from industrial processes such as electrical equipment manufacturing. It is often seen. Rice, on the other hand, tends to absorb arsenic from the soil and water in which it grows. Arsenic also occurs naturally as part of the earth’s crust and as a result of human activities such as the use of pesticides.
So should you stop eating dark chocolate?
Catajina Cordas, an associate professor of public health at the University of Buffalo, has two main reasons for not sticking to chocolate. First, the reality is that heavy metals can be present in trace amounts in a wide variety of foods. Although the FDA tests a limited number of foods, including hundreds, each year for the Total Diet Study, it does not test specific brands or stores of food, and manufacturers do not disclose heavy metals on food labels. is not necesary to.
“There have been calls for better labeling and transparency about what is in the products manufactured. To do this, companies should test their products regularly and make this information available. , we need to act to cut down on heavy metals as much as possible,” says Kordas.
But in the meantime, it doesn’t make much sense to stick to one particular type of food. And this leads to his second reason Kordas won’t give up dark chocolate. If you do, you may miss out on the health benefits associated with moderate consumption. For example, studies show that the flavonols in dark chocolate promote heart health.
How can I protect myself and my family from heavy metals in food?
It is important to note that heavy metals can accumulate in the body not only from food, but also from exposure to contaminated water, air, household and consumer products. It is unlikely that you will avoid them completely, no matter what you do. However, you can definitely take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to dangerous levels.
For most people, instead of trying to avoid specific foods, it’s best to aim for a diet that includes a wide variety of foods and avoid eating large amounts of any one food, says Kordas. Excessive consumption of any metal. “
A healthy, balanced diet is also thought to protect against heavy metals. If your body is deficient in small amounts of healthy heavy metals such as zinc and copper, it can cause you to absorb too much of dangerous heavy metals like lead and cadmium, says Wright. We recommend feeding children a diet rich in iron and vitamin C. All of these can prevent the body from absorbing lead. Overall, a healthy diet makes the body stronger, promotes brain development in children, and helps counteract the effects of negative factors in the environment, says Wright.
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