Heavy metals in foods – Part Three

Freaking out about heavy metals in your food? Here’s what you should know – Part Three

What can I do to decrease my exposure?

Since you’re not going to be able to test all of your food for heavy metals before every meal, the best and easiest way to minimize heavy metal exposure is to avoid those products known to have high levels of those substances. The biggest one? Rice. Rice readily absorbs arsenic from the soil and water, and though as an adult you’re certainly not eating enough pure rice for it to be a problem, babies shouldn’t have many rice-based snacks. And if you are concerned about your own diet, Consumer Reports suggests opting for white basmati rice from California, India, or Pakistan or choosing brown rice—all of these had much lower levels of arsenic than rice from other places in the world.

You can also avoid consuming protein powder and steer clear of high-mercury fish like big eye tuna and swordfish. Packaged foods also tend to contain rice, since it’s a cheap and useful additive, so avoiding processed products will help. None of these is likely to cause a problem individually, but it can’t hurt to reduce your exposure. In doing so, you’ll also move towards a diet full of whole foods that are naturally low in heavy metals. Though many plants can absorb trace amounts of dangerous metals from the soil or from contaminated water, pretty much all fruits and veggies are very low in or entirely free from heavy metals. Dairy is also safe, as is most meat besides seafood.

Again, there’s no reason to be fearful. Heavy metals are dangerous, but it’s easy to reduce your exposure and you’re unlikely to be consuming high quantities already anyway.