Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Wisdom Wednesday: Heavy Metals Found in Popular Fruit Juices
Nearly half of 45 fruit juices tested had elevated levels of heavy metals, which can pose health risks for children and adults, Consumer Reports has found.
The report, released Wednesday, says that even small amounts of juice might hold risks.
"In some cases, drinking just 4 ounces a day — or half a cup — is enough to raise concern," James Dickerson, PhD, chief scientific officer for CR, says in the report.
If anything, the results simply reinforce existing concerns about fruit juices. "I don't think we need to say you can't give your kids any juice," says Steven Abrams, MD, a professor of pediatrics at Dell Medical School, University of Texas at Austin. But, he says, "juice is not a product that is intrinsically healthy for children." He coauthored the American Academy of Pediatrics' guidelines on juice, which set limits by age. Meanwhile, juice producers say the report needlessly alarms consumers.
Consumer Reports experts tested 45 juices made by 24 brands, including well-known and lesser-known brands such as Gerber, Minute Maid, Mott's, Great Value from Walmart, Clover Valley from Dollar General, and Big Win from Rite Aid. Those tested included organic products, too, as well as store brands from Whole Foods and Trader Joe's.
They focused on levels of cadmium, lead, mercury, and inorganic arsenic, saying that these elements pose some of the greatest risks and that research has found they are common in food and drink. The juices tested were apple, fruit blends, grape, and pear.
The new testing was done as a follow-up to a study in 2011, when CR found elevated levels of inorganic arsenic and lead in apple and grape juices. The new evaluation was done to see if there's been improvement, to test other juices, and to test for other heavy metals.
Overall, CR says, heavy metal levels in fruit juices have declined since their last testing. But in the new report, every juice contained at least one of the four metals tested, and 47%, or 21, had concerning levels of cadmium, inorganic arsenic, and/or lead. None had concerning levels of mercury. Other major conclusions: Seven of the 21 had enough heavy metals to potentially harm children who drink a half-cup or more a day, and nine of the 21 held risks for kids drinking a cup or more a day. Ten of the juices posed a risk to adults, too: Five were potentially hazardous at a half-cup or more a day, and five at a cup or more a day. The highest heavy metal levels were in grape juice and juice blends. Organic juices did not have lower heavy metal levels than non-organic.
In a statement, Patricia Faison, technical director of the Juice Products Association, an industry group, accused Consumer Reports of raising unnecessary concern. "There is no scientific evidence indicating that the presence of trace levels of heavy metals in juice has caused any negative health outcomes among individuals at any life stage," she says.
I like Dr. Abrams’ statement, "Juice is not a product that is intrinsically healthy for children." The sugar content is too high, having been extracted from the plant fiber which originally bound the sugar.
I recommend both children and adults eat two fruit servings per day, rather than drink the juice. Fruit is best eaten a snack between meals to minimize digestive issues.
Despite the claims of the Juice Products Association, please avoid giving your children fruit juice. If you must, dilute it with water and limit consumption.
Source: January 31, 2019 NIH
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