Chosing Food For Brain Health

Fascinating findings regarding food for brain health. How you eat might just have an impact on the health of your brain.

So, what’s best for the brain? A new study appearing in the journal Neurology finds that a diet that regularly contains lots of specific vitamins (B, C, D, E) as well as omega-3 fats, while being low in trans fats, is best for the brain. Older subjects who ate like this were found to have less shrinkage in the brain (linked with Alzheimer’s), and got higher scores on tests of thinking ability than those who had less nutrient rich diets.

Earlier research has suggested that a heart healthy diet is good for the brain too, but this latest study did things a little differently. They used blood samples (rather than diet questionnaires) to determine the diet and nutrient levels of those who participated.

According to study author Gene L. Bowman, ND, MPH, an assistant professor of neurology, the combination of B vitamins, antioxidants C and E and vitamin D was the best in terms of nutrients in the blood and healthy brain aging in the study population.

Natural sources of these nutrients include:

- B vitamins: milk and dairy, whole grain cereals, enriched bread, peanut butter

- Vitamin C: fruits and veggies

- Vitamin E: nuts and oils

- Vitamin D: fatty fish like salmon, fortified milk

Diets with lots of omega-3 fatty acids were also found to be good for the brain.

And when it comes to the worst diet… the findings weren’t all that surprising. A diet high in trans fats, most often found in fast foods and packaged baked foods and snacks, is the most troublesome in terms of keeping the brain healthy.

The average age of the study subjects was 87, and they didn’t have risk factors that are known to up the chances of thinking and memory problems – things like diabetes or high blood pressure.

Beyond the blood testing, the subjects were given memory and thinking skills testing. 42 of them had MRI scans to measure their brain volume. A smaller brain volume has been tied to declines in the ability to think that are known to be a part of Alzheimer’s disease.

The team examined 30 nutrient biomarkers in the samples, and those that were most often linked to a healthy brain were vitamins, omega-3 fatty acids and trans fats.

While the declines in mental abilities were attributable more to a subjects’ age and other risk factors, diet also played a part, perhaps about 17%, compared to 48% for subject age. When it came to brain size diet was almost as important as other things – explaining about 37% of the difference, while the other risk factors covered about 40% of the variations.

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Brain Health Linked To Diet Patterns… Continued…

It’s important to understand that the research shows an association between the two things, what you eat and how healthy your brain might be. This is not cause and effect. Also, the small study examined only a single point in time, and no one can say if the dietary patterns predict what will happen over a lifetime.

As research moves forward, it might someday be possible to slow mental decline through what a patient eats. This comes from Christy Tangney, PhD an associate professor of clinical nutrition and Rush University Medical Center who wrote an editorial that accompanied the research. There may one day even be a blood measurement that gives a clue as to the typical diet, not just a single point in time.

Until then, the best advice of experts is to follow a heart healthy diet that is also full of food for brain health and get plenty of exercise to keep your body, and brain, healthy.

Maintaining Weight Loss Tips

Though you might wish there was another answer, according to internist and medical weight loss specialist Dr. Jessica Bartfield of Gottlieb Memorial Hospital, losing those unwanted pounds (and maintaining weight loss) comes down to being able to face setbacks and keep working toward your goal. Persistence is key and will ensure that you enjoy all the benefits of weight loss, better cholesterol numbers, lower blood pressure and stable blood sugar levels, not to mention protection from life altering diseases like diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and even some cancers.

But though weight loss benefits are widely known, this doesn’t make shedding those pounds, and keeping them at bay, any easier.

According to the CDC, only 20% of Americans who lose weight are able to keep the pounds from creeping back after a year. This shows plainly just how difficult weight maintenance can be.

Can you beat those odds? You can Bartfield believes, if you follow some common sense suggestions…

- Set realistic, measureable goals - you want these to be concrete, specific and attainable. Start by working to lose 10% of your body weight and see where that takes you.

- Eat breakfast - eating within an hour of waking up can boost your metabolism by as much as 20% for the entire rest of the day. In terms of what to eat, protein is great for long lasting fuel.

- Be consistent – eat at regular intervals every day of the week. Being “good” during the week, and then splurging on the weekend is a harmful cycle that actually discourages weight loss.

- Check your weight regularly - watching your weight on a weekly basis gives you an accurate weight trend, and an early detection of regain. This helps you adjust your behavior accordingly, before too much damage has been done.

- Exercise an hour a day - this can include not only the traditional workout as well as chores around the house like gardening, vacuuming, taking the stairs. Even three 20-minute walks are fine. Just be sure that every day your activity adds up to 60 minutes total.

- Track activity and calories - don’t underestimate how many calories you’re taking in… know for sure. Wearing a pedometer can also provide accurate information on just how active you are. You want to keep track of both things – calories eaten and activity done – so you can chart your progress.

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-> You should eat plenty of whole grains to stay healthy and lean
-> Losing fat is a slow & steady process

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Revealed: The Key To Lasting Weight Loss… Continued…

- Limit TV/Internet use to under 10 hours a week - if you think you don’t have time to fit exercise into your routine, look to how much time you spend sitting watching or surfing the internet and you’ll likely find more than a few spare hours.

- Expect setbacks - you make mistakes whenever you learn any new thing, including how to behave so you’ll keep weight from coming back. Remember you’re fighting bad habits built over a lifetime. Don’t expect perfection. An established weight loss program can offer guidance and ongoing support.

The hard, honest truth is that for maintaining weight loss you must make changes to your behaviors. This is the cornerstone on achieving your goal, though it’s important to understand that doing so takes time. Establishing a new behavior takes nearly three months – so you’ll need to keep at it, keep practicing. You should expect that you might fall down a few times, and be ready to get back up and start again.

Ways To Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease

Enjoying a tasty piece of baked or broiled fish just once a week might improve the health of your brain, bringing down the risk of mild cognitive impairment (also known as MCI) and helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease according to new research just presented at the Radiological Society of North America annual meeting.

The study found that eating fish that was not fried, but rather baked or broiled, helps to preserve brain neurons, making them stronger brain areas that are important for thinking and memory.

To understand the impact of eating fish on brain health, the team from the University of Pittsburgh looked at 260 elderly people (average age 71) who were mentally healthy and had been drawn from the Cardiovascular Health Study that’s sponsored by the U.S. NHLBI.

Ten years later every study subject underwent a 3D MRI scan, so the team could map out the size of the brain, a key to brain health. The subjects had also filled out the U.S. National Cancer Institute Food Frequency Questionnaire so researchers know what they ate, and how often. The team then looked at brain changes against diet.

The food frequency questionnaires showed that 163 of the participants ate fish at least once a week, most saying they ate this food between one and four times a week.

Study author Dr. Cyrus Raji, a department of medicine resident at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, says those who ate either baked or broiled fish were found to have larger brains. They had bigger brain cells in the areas responsible for memory and learning, areas of the brain thought to be at high risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

About five years later, the researchers assessed the study subjects for mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s. They saw that 47% of those who didn’t eat fish at least once a week had mild cognitive impairment or Alzheimer’s; compared to only 28% of the regular fish eaters.

Regardless of age, race, gender, weight, how active they were and what level of education they had achieved, those who ate baked or broiled fish had a larger mass in a very specific, very important areas of the brain. They also displayed better working memory, so that they could more efficiently and effectively handle routine tasks.

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Study: Baked/Broiled Fish May Well Fight Alzheimer’s… Continued…

Raji was most amazed at the amount of fish that brought a benefit – eating it baked or broiled one to four times a week was enough. Just a half serving a day… a small change in what you eat could well have an incredible impact on your brain health today and down the line. No benefit to the brain was seen for those who ate fried fish.

For those who had larger brain volume, the risk of MCI and Alzheimer’s went down fivefold within five years after the brain scans conducted as part of the research.

Today over 5 million Americans are living with the horror and heartbreak that is Alzheimer’s disease… a slow destruction of memory and thinking and language that has no cure. Often those diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment go on to develop Alzheimer’s in the future.

The team cautions that though eating baked and broiled fish may have some benefits to the brain, there might be other lifestyle and socioeconomic factors that also play a part in helping to prevent Alzheimer’s disease. There could well be other protective factors linked to fish eating that the researchers didn’t measure – how many fruits/veggies were they also eating; were they more active or eating a lower number of calories each day. The connection between fish and brain health should be considered an association, not cause-and-effect, though it certainly can’t hurt to give the baked or broiled versions of your favorite seafoods a try – you’ll be surprised how absolutely delicious they are.

Is Coffee Safe To Drink?

Safe caffeine intake has often been debated, but the question about is coffee safe has yet to be resolved. With the many different coffee drinks and energy boosters out there, all with widely varying amounts of caffeine, it’s hard for anyone to know just how much you’re taking in each day. Truth is, you’re probably taking in more than you think without even realizing it.

The caffeine content in a cup of your favorite morning beverage depends on just how large the cup is, how finely the coffee is ground, how dark the roast, how it was brewed, how much coffee is in the drink and even the type of coffee bean that was used. That means that a cup of instant coffee will have a different caffeine content from that mug you brew in your kitchen. Home made is also different from what you buy at the local coffee place.

Caffeine is a natural part of coffee as well as tea, chocolate and energy drinks. It also appears in soft drinks and some medicines such as pain relievers, diet pills and cold remedies. People are affected by this substance in different ways; some are more sensitive to its effects than others and may well have to adjust their intake. For pregnant women this is particularly true.

The maximum intake of caffeine for a pregnant woman, according a 2008 recommendation from the Food Standards Agency, is 200mg of caffeine a day. This works out to two mugs or four cups of coffee. Taking in too much caffeine during pregnancy could result in miscarriage or a baby born at a lower birth weight than it might have been. Too much caffeine during pregnancy can also up the risk of some health problems later on in life.

The FSA had earlier called for a maximum daily intake of 300mg, but research in the British Medical Journal suggested that a lower amount would be even better. The study found that caffeine was rapidly absorbed into the body of a pregnant woman and crossed the placenta easily, circulating in the unborn child. Too much caffeine was able to interfere with blood flow in the placenta and affect the baby’s growth.

Your best bet, while pregnant, is to vary the liquids you drink. You don’t need to cut out caffeine completely, but you’ll want to be sure to include other beverages as well. Try decaffeinated tea or coffee, fruit juice and water. And be sure to limit the number of energy drinks you consume, as these can be high in caffeine. As for the rest of us, the advice isn’t so clear.

In general four to five cups of coffee, about 400mg of caffeine, is safe for most people.

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So, Just How Much Caffeine Is Safe To Drink..? Continued…

Coffee does, in fact, have some benefits…

It can increase alertness, performance and mental ability because it stimulates the central nervous system. There’s a large US study that found women who drank two or more cups of coffee a day had less chance of being depressed. It may also be linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer, breast cancer and perhaps protect against the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

The down side?

Caffeine can be pretty addictive, meaning the answer to is coffee safe is ambigious. Nutrition experts urge that we all drink coffee in moderation and listen to our own body signals. You need to know your own limits and your own body, and respect both.

Effective Ways To Avoid Cancer

Some startling news about ways to avoid cancer. Almost half of the cancers diagnosed in the United Kingdom, over 130,000 in all, are brought on by avoidable life choices. Things like smoking cigarettes, drinking and eating the wrong things according to a new review by Cancer Research UK. Tobacco is the major culprit – bringing 23% of cancers in men; 15.6% in women.

The lead author for the report, Professor Max Parkin knows that many people think cancer is up to fate… or in the genes… it’s sheer luck as to who gets cancer and who doesn’t. Thinking that lifestyle choices can have an impact is a radical notion, but yet looking at the evidence, it’s obvious that almost 40% of all cancers are caused by things under our direct control.

In total for the work, 14 environmental and lifestyle factors combined to bring on 134,000 cancers in the UK during 2010. About 100,000, or 34%, of UK cancers are associated with smoking, diet, alcohol and extra weight. One in 25 cancers is linked to jobs that have to do with being exposed to chemicals or asbestos. Doctors know that smoking has a strong, proven link to lung cancers.

A lack of fruits and veggies in a man’s diet, being overweight for a woman were also important lifestyle choices that contributed to cancer diagnoses. For men, the best advice of the experts appears to be stop smoking and eat a healthier diet with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and cut down on how much alcohol you drink on a regular basis.

For women, the review says the best thing is to stop smoking, but also watch your weight. This is more of a risk factor than other things, including how much alcohol you take in on a regular basis.

Some other findings from the data. For breast cancers, nearly a tenth of the disease risk comes from being too heavy, either overweight or obese. This risk is more powerful than if the patient breastfed or currently drinks alcohol.

For oesophageal cancer, half the risk could be tied to eating too few fruits and veggies – while only a fifth of the risk came from alcohol intake.

For cancer of the stomach, a fifth of the risk comes from having a diet too high in salt according to the data. Mouth and throat cancers are caused almost exclusively by the choices you make in your lifestyle.

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Review: Over 40% Of Cancers Due To Lifestyle… Continued…

Cancers largely unrelated to lifestyle include ones like gall bladder cancer.

Experts agree that there’s now overwhelming evidence that our cancer risk is affected by how we live. There are things that you can do… within your control… to keep from developing certain cancers. Stop smoking… watch how much alcohol you drink on a regular basis and get more exercise so that you keep your weight under control.

While living a healthy lifestyle isn’t a guarantee of a life free of disease, it can greatly reduce the odds, so they are in our favor. Doing what we can to reduce our risk of cancer, or any disease, is far more effective than treating the disease once it has a foothold on your body.

The work, considered by some to be a wake up call for governments to take action to help people find ways to avoid cancer, appears in the British Journal of Cancer.

Link Between Dementia And Depression

Diabetes patients who are worried by dementia and depression take note. Odds for dementia go up markedly for those who have both type 2 diabetes and struggle with depression. Those with diabetes are two times as likely to develop memory and independence robbing dementia within three to five years after being diagnosed with depression, compared to those who didn’t have depression but did have diabetes.

Doctor’s have known for some time that diabetes is a risk for dementia according to study lead Dr. Wayne Katon, a professor and vice chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences from the School of Public Health at the University of Washington. Having diabetes may just double the risk of dementia, though no one can say just why this is true.

Maybe it’s the stress of day-to-day management of the disease. You might feel alone… apart from family and friends because of all the extra work you need to do – especially in our food-focused culture. And then, coming to an acceptance of what’s happening to your body is a difficult and bumpy road. If you have complications from your disease, nerve damage for example, or are having trouble keeping your blood sugar where it should be, you may feel like you’re losing control. It’s easy to see how depression can get a foothold, and then hang on.

Once you’re depressed, it’s hard to…

- Eat a healthy diet

- Be active

- Keep from smoking

Katon believes that diabetes is often accompanies by depression, pointing out that almost 20% of diabetics have this mood disorder. This combination actually doubles again the already raised risk of dementia that diabetics already have.

To study depression, diabetes and dementia, the team of researchers focused on over 19,000 California adults who had diabetes and were between 30 and 75 years old. Nearly one in five of them were also considered to be experiencing “clinically significant” symptoms of depression.

Monitoring for dementia took place over the next three to five years, and the team saw that just over 2% of those who had both diabetes and depression went on to be diagnosed with one (or more) forms of dementia – including Alzheimer’s disease. Just 1% of patients who had diabetes ended up with dementia during that same time.

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Study: When Diabetes And Depression Meet, Dementia Risk Rises… Continued…

The important thing to focus on is that there are treatments for depression that work very well. If you’re a diabetic who is dealing with depression, don’t wait – do something about it now, just as you are doing with your diabetes.

There are things you can do to help yourself battle both. Working to keep your weight under control is key – so eating a low fat diet and staying active on a regular basis are best bets.

You should know that the absolute risk of dementia for any person who has both depression and diabetes still remains small – one in 50 people. The study authors also note that diabetes and depression are among the most common health issues older Americans face, but that both conditions are treatable and manageable – you can feel better.

Wanting To Live For Longer?

Here’s something to get you up and moving. When it comes to wanting to live for longer, experts say fitness is more important than what you weigh. According to a new study of over 14,000 male subjects, those who improved their fitness level were less likely to die from any cause (including heart disease) – even if their weight stayed the same, or went up, compared to men who’s fitness levels went down over time.

We all know that it’s difficult to maintain our weight over the years. This research points out to increased endurance as perhaps a more attainable goal that might just bring some pretty impressive dividends.

Based on this study, weight changes is less important than changes in your fitness level according to researcher Duck-chul Lee, PhD who is an exercise physiologist at the University of South Carolina. He suggests, based on the study findings, that you worry less about changes in your weight, focus more on either maintaining or improving your level of fitness.

The research assessed men’s fitness levels using treadmill tests. After 11 years, those who either got more fit, or kept their level of fitness stable were less likely to have died form heart disease, stroke or any disease then those who got less physically fit over the years. Even a little bit helped, and every increase in endurance level brought a lower risk of dying.

The male subjects who didn’t stay fit were more likely to die from any cause, regardless in any changes in what they weighed. The average age of the men in the study was 44 years old, and the subjects were mostly white, middle or upper class people. Nearly all, 90%, of the participants were normal weight, so it’s hard to know if the same results would be found in obese men. Normal weight women might see the same benefits.

The latest findings validate earlier work on the benefits to health of being fit according to American Heart Association spokesman Richard Stein, MD. He believes that fitness is a much greater prediction of death than weight. So putting your effort into endurance fitness is clearly a powerful predictor of living longer.

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Why Fit People Live Longer, Regardless Of Changes In Weight… Continued…

If you’re significantly obese, you need to work with a fitness pro and create an appropriate program so you can get the benefits of workouts without hurting yourself.

If you’re thin, don’t be fooled and think you’re fit because you’re small. If you don’t do any exercise, you are no more fit than an overweight or obese person. Being inactive is not okay, no matter what the scale says.

Inactivity… comfortably sitting all the time increases your risks of…

- Heart disease

- Stroke

- Colon cancer

- Diabetes

- High blood pressure

- Gaining weight

- Weaker bones, muscles and joints

- Increased chance of falls in older people

- Arthritis pain

- More severe anxiety and depression

- More hospitalizations, visits to the doctor and medications

The best thing of all – being active doesn’t need to be strenuous to be good for you. Regular, moderately intense activity is best. This might be a half hour of brisk walking, five or more times each week, which could help you live for longer.

Eating A Plant Based Whole Food Diet

Fascinating findings. A woman who enjoys a plant based whole food diet, has a lower stroke risk according to a new study published in the journal Stroke. Even if she has a history of heart disease or stroke, this way of eating… lots of veggies, fruits and whole grains… can reduce her chances of having a stroke.

Strokes happen when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted, or reduced, depriving this vital organ of both oxygen and blood… within minutes the brain cells start to die. Considered a medical emergency, doctors will tell you that prompt treatment is vital; acting at once can minimize the damage to your brain and any complications you might deal with later on.

The good news is that strokes can be prevented, and many fewer people die of them today than was the case even 15 years ago. Better control of the risk factors (high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol) is one reason for the decline.

For the current work on stroke, the team, led by PhD student Susanne Rautiainen from Sweden’s Karolinska Institutet, examined a group of 31,035 women who were heart disease free and 5,680 who had a history of heart problems, both groups ranging in age from 49 to 83 years old.

Researchers measured the amounts of foods rich in antioxidants that the subjects’ ate and drank using a food frequency questionnaire. Almost 11.5 years later, there had been 1,322 strokes among the women who didn’t have heart disease; 1,007 strokes among those who did have earlier heart disease and stroke.

The amount of antioxidants in the diet appears to make a difference in stroke risk. Subjects who didn’t have a heart disease history who ate lots of antioxidants were 17% less likely to have any type of stroke compared to those who ate the least amount of these beneficial nutrients. These results held even after the team accounted for things that could affect stroke risk – exercise, smoking and other behaviors.

For those who had a history of either heart disease or stroke, the numbers were even more startling – those who ate and drank the most antioxidant rich foods (and drinks) had a 45% drop in risk of a hemorrhagic (bleeding in the brain due to a ruptured blood vessel) stroke than those who ate a diet with the least amount of antioxidants.

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Cut Stroke Risk With Diet Full Of Veggies, Fruits, Whole Grains… Continued…

We know that antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that are thought to sop up free radicals in our bodies that have been liked to heart disease, stroke and other serious diseases. Other sources besides fruits, veggies and whole grains include tea and chocolate. Making sure you get these beneficial antioxidants from the foods you eat is an important take-away message from the research.

Most specialists will tell patients to eat more fruits, veggies, omega-3 fatty acids, nuts – and fewer saturated fats.

While the study is interesting and shows promising benefits to a plant based whole food diet, the work does need to be repeated in men and other female populations. In the meantime, there are other things you can do to lower your risk of dangerous, life altering stroke. Stopping smoking is the most important – the one that makes the biggest difference.

Nutrition Facts For Apple Juice

Now here’s some interesting nutrition facts for apple juice… apple juice can be a risk of your health, but not because of the arsenic everyone (including us) is talking about. Instead it’s the calories and sugar that apple juice brings that are the real trouble according to some experts. While this type of juice might be the favorite of kids everywhere, it has small amounts of protein and minerals, but none of the fiber of the whole fruit, it and also brings tons of calories and, in some varieties, more sugar than soda.

Drinking juice does deliver a whole lot of calories quickly. You might not even realize how many you’ve taken in… you’d have to eat a whole apple to get the same amount. And you’d feel much, much fuller. Whole fruits are just so much better for you.

TV’s Dr. Mehmet Oz caused a sensation a few months back when he talked about arsenic levels in apple juice based on tests his show conducted in a private lab. The FDA said its own tests disagreed with these findings and that the juice is safe. However recent Consumer Reports tests on juice brands that we talked about yesterday has the FDA reconsidering and agreeing to look at whether its restrictions on the amount of arsenic in apple juice are strict enough.

There are brands of apple juice fortified with vitamins, but that isn’t enough for some. Spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a registered dietitian, Karen Ansel says that if the juice wasn’t healthy in the first place, adding vitamins isn’t the way to make it into a healthy alternative. Of course, all juices sold in the U.S. must be safe and meet certain standards.

The American Academy of Pediatrics is blunt; juice offers no benefits for infants under 6 months of age, and no benefits better than whole fruit for anyone older. Yet kids under the age of 12 consume 28% of all juice and juice drinks according to the experts. Across the U.S., apple juice is second only to orange in popularity, and we drink 267 ounces of it on average each year. More is taken in as part of juice drinks and other foods.

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Calories Are The True Health Risk Of Apple Juice… Continued…

Here’s why pediatricians hate fruit juices. They train the child’s taste buds to like very sweet things, and take the place of better for you beverages while adding to the weight problem in this nation. It’s like sugar water according to Judith Stern, a professor of nutrition at the University of California, Davis who’s worked for both candy manufacturers and Weight Watchers.

Only 17% of the apple juice that’s sold in the U.S. is actually produced here. The rest comes mostly from China, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. If you want to get the most of the juice you drink going forward, here’s what to do…

1. Look for a brand fortified with both calcium and vitamin D-3

2. Don’t give juice before 6 months old

3. Give children only pasteurized juice

4. Limit juice to 4-6 ounces a day for ages 1 to 6, 8 to 12 ounces/day for 7 to 18

5. Encourage kids to eat whole fruits

Also, when it comes to looking at nutrition facts for apple juice don’t buy into healthy sounding labels – no sugar added doesn’t mean the juice isn’t full of natural sugar. Cholesterol free is silly… only an animal product has cholesterol, fruit juice does not.

Arsenic In Apple Juice

How’s this for troubling? A Consumer Reports study, published online in November but appearing in the January 2012 print issue of the magazine finds arsenic in apple juice, with 10% of apple and grape juice samples bought in stores having more arsenic than the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) allows in bottled water.

Lest the arsenic feel lonely, 25% of these samples had more lead than the EPA would allow in the bottled water being sold right next to it in the cooler. The EPA standard is 10 parts per billion of total arsenic in drinking water. Drinking water usually has about 2ppb of arsenic, though some areas might have far more.

Arsenic has been known as a poison since ancient times – a postage stamp size of inorganic arsenic is deadly. Tiny amounts taken in over time can be just as deadly, and the substance has been associated with cancers of the bladder, lung and skin as well as upping your risks of heart disease, immune deficiency and even diabetes.

While total arsenic levels aren’t the concern because organic arsenic isn’t (currently) thought dangerous, but inorganic arsenic is deadly. Most of the arsenic in the juice is the inorganic kind.

While the levels found in the juices are far below the “level of concern” the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) has for prompting more testing, the consumer group believes the government should be more worried… and so should consumers. A Consumer Reports poll finds that over a third of kids 5 years old and younger drink more (6 ounces, a single juice box/day) apple juice than pediatricians recommend.

What’s more, kids are more sensitive to arsenic poisoning, and lots of them drink as much as 16 ounces of juice a day, exposing them to much higher levels of arsenic than their parents, or anyone else, might suspect. Part of the trouble is their smaller body size, part is also the large amounts of juice they drink on a regular basis says Urvashi Rangan, PhD, who is the director of safety and sustainability for Consumer Reports.

A survey commissioned by Consumer Reports, that used CDC (Center for Disease Control) data found that those who drank apple/grape juice had about 20% higher levels of arsenic in their urine than those who didn’t drink this juice.

The FDA has reported that since 2005 it has tested 160 samples of apple juice for arsenic, and their findings were similar to those of Consumer Reports, except for this. Some of the samples tested had far higher arsenic levels. The FDA currently worries if the levels are over 23 ppb, but Consumer Reports thinks the cutoff should be very much lower, 3 ppb for arsenic and 5 ppb for lead. The FDA continues to hint that it is getting ready to take action regarding inorganic arsenic in apple juice.

Over 40% of the juice Consumer Reports tested has less than 3ppb or arsenic and under 5 ppb of lead. The Juice Products Association, an industry group, claims that juice is safe for people of all ages to drink, and that the industry adheres to FDA guidelines for all products sold in the United States.

Continues below…


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Consumer Reports: Arsenic In Apple And Grape Juice… Continued…

And if you think juice is the only place to find arsenic, you’ll be surprised to learn it’s also found in chicken, rice and according to a report at a scientific conference, in baby foods as well.

A 2004 study citied by Consumer Reports noted that arsenic was most often found in baby sweet potatoes, carrots, green beans and peaches… all favorites.

Rice is another food that’s particularly good at soaking up the inorganic form of arsenic. U.S. rice has among the world’s highest inorganic arsenic levels, almost three times that of levels in Basmarti rice. Of course rice packaging rarely identifies where the rice came from.

If you’re worried about arsenic exposure, here’s what you can do…

- Test your water if you get it from a well or spring; municipal water systems test for arsenic.

- Limit how much juice you and your children drink. Infants under 6 months shouldn’t drink juice at all, up to age 6 kids should drink under 4-6 ounces a day; over age 6 drink no more than 8-12 ounces a day.

- Consider organic chicken that is never given feed laced with arsenic, a common poultry practice. Understand though that organic fruits and veggies may come from places with arsenic in the soil.

- Get tested and stay informed about the levels of arsenic in apple juice.