Eating healthily is something that we all realize is important, and for the most part, the majority of us do strive for a healthy diet. However, it is not as straightforward to source healthy food as we might think, indeed many of the foods we instinctively think of as healthy are often something else entirely.
Whether it is chemicals, hidden fats or other potentially chemicals, finding the right foods for your healthy diet takes perseverance, research and really paying attention to the ingredients of everything you buy. Heavy metals, whether that is mercury, aluminum (not strictly a heavy metal but usually included in contaminant discussion), cadmium or a number of others, poses a very real health issue if not watched.
While metals are naturally occurring in many foods, they build up in the body and can be responsible for a range of problems in the future. The human body requires trace amounts of some metals to function properly, however the problems occur when the intake is simply too much for the body to cope with. Once ingest ed into the body, these metals can do harm by a process known as oxidative stress (Dr. Group, 2015), and the results can lead to such problems as kidney damage and weakening of the bone structure, along with skin issues such as eczema and less overt symptoms, such as anxiety, depression and sleep disturbance ( Järup, 2003).
Knowing this, it is unsurprising that many actively try to avoid foods with high levels of heavy metals in them, however the problem is not always obvious in many foods, and the biggest issue is foods that are considered healthy that also contain high levels of such heavy met als. The affected foods may surprise you, so we have picked out the 4 healthy foods that you may not be aware contain quite high levels of heavy metals.
Not all fish of course, but with most dietary advice encouraging us to consume more and more fish,it is important to understand that some fish is high in heavy metals. Swordfish, Tuna, Bass or Snapper (Mahaffey, Corneliussen, Jelinek, & Florino, 1975) are all high in mercury content, and should be avoided where possible. This is especially true for pregnant women, who are particularly
vulnerable to the effects of high levels of mercury, where there can be a danger to the unborn baby if levels rise to high.
Tuna in particular is commonly thought of as a food that should be part of any healthy diet, but with higher levels of naturally occurring mercury is actually a problem if you eat it too regularly. To keep a healthy diet that contains fish, it is much better to choose low mercury content fish instead, these include Cod, Catfish, Salmon, Sardines and Anchovies.
While no one should ever suggest cutting out vegetables from your diet, the majority of vegetables we eat contain naturally occurring cadmium, and so it is important to understand the level of risksand the way to combat them (LowHeavyMetalsVerified.org, 2015).
Vegetables most at risk are potatoes, celery and cabbage, however it is possible to avoid these and look for alternatives for those and still obtain the vegetable based diet you seek, it is also worth noting that certified organic produce will have less chemicals in them by default do to the way they are grown, and should alwaysbe the first choice where possible regardless of heavy metal content concerns.
Knowing where your produce is sourced from can really help when it comes to ensuring that you know the levels of chemicals or metals that they may contain. Peeling skins and washing your vegetables in filtered water can minimize the risk of metal ingestion (Hupston, 2013) in mo st cases even in potentially higher levels such as potatoes.
We need water to survive of course, and most of us take it for granted, but water can contain all kinds of impurities and chemicals straight out of the tap. What water does is absorb all kinds of
nutrients and toxins from its surroundings on its journey to the bottle or tap you drink it from. Aluminum, cadmium and occasionally copper can all be present in the water you drink or use for
cooking (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, 2016), all with potentially harmful consequences from long term exposure.
Cooking with contaminated water will transfer some of those contaminates into the food you are preparing, and so it pays to be prepared. The good news is that a water filter can remove not just the chlorine or fluoride people are familiar with, but the majority of heavy metal contaminants too, so the advice is not to avoid water, but to ensure you always drink and cook with filtered water for peace of mind.
While we are all aware of the health benefits that natural nuts like peanuts bring, in this case there are some issues that we all should be aware of. Peanuts can contain relatively high levels of barium, cadmium and other contaminates (Naturopathconnect, 2011),and as such for nut intake other sources should ideally be chosen. Cadmium in peanuts is of particular concern, as it is slow to leave the body even during detoxification, and can cause kidney and eye issues that are debilitating long term.
However, while all of this sounds like a scary prospect, with even food most consider healthy having issues, there are ways to combat the problem. By identifying foods that can be cause for concern as we have done, seeking alternatives can ensure a healthy balanced diet is maintain ed while avoiding the problems of heavy metals, and if you are concerned about the food you have eaten before becoming aware of the issue, and of already ingesting heavy metals, there is also a way to combat this too.
Some foods help you to deal with heavy metals in your body, essentially detoxing your entire system of these unwanted toxins. Drinking plenty of filtered water is a wonderful way to kick-start the
process as it flushes out many contaminates on its own, but for heavy metals, further action is needed. Including one or all of the herb Cilantro (also known as coriander), Parsley and a single cell
algae called Chlorella in your diet can really make a difference (Shelton & Angelle, 2015). All three help the body dispose of various heavy metals and can be a great way to make a new start in avoiding those foods that have the potential to be contaminated with those metals.
- Järup, L. (2003). Hazards of heavy metal contamination.British Medical Bulletin, 68(1), 167-182.
- Retrieved from http://bmb.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/1/167.full
- Dr. Group, E. (2015, December 3). The Effects of Toxic Metals.
- Retrieved from Global Healing Center:http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/natural-health/effects-of-toxic-metals/
- Hupston, F. (2013, January 14).Top foods that chelate the body of heavy metals. Retrieved from
- LowHeavyMetalsVerified.org. (2015).A new standard in consumer food safety . Retrieved from
- LowHeavyMetalsVerified.org: www.lowheavymetalsverified.org Mahaffey, K. R., Corneliussen, P. E., Jelinek, C. F., & Florino, J. A. (1975). Heavy Metal Exposure from Foods.
- Environmental Health Perspectives, 12, 63-69. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1475014/?page=1
- Naturopathconnect. (2011). Heavy Metal Toxicity: Dietary and Lifestyle Recommendations to improve symptoms. Retrieved from Naturopathconnect:
- Shelton, A. B., & Angelle, A. (2015). How to detox from Heavy Metals. Retrieved from Gaiam Life:
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2016). Chemical Contaminants, Metals, Natural Toxins & Pesticides Guidance Documents & Regulations. Retrieved from FDA.gov: