7 "Toxins" in foods that really concern

You may have heard claims that some common foods or ingredients are "toxic." Fortunately, most of these claims are not supported by science.

However, there are some that can be harmful, especially when consumed in large quantities.

Here is a list of 7 "toxins" in foods that are really worrying.

1. Refined oils of vegetables and seeds

Refined vegetable and seed oils include corn, sunflower, safflower, soybean, and cottonseed oils.

Years ago, people were urged to replace saturated fats with vegetable oils to lower their cholesterol levels and help prevent heart disease.

However, a large body of evidence suggests that these oils actually cause damage when consumed in excess (1).

Vegetable oils are highly refined products without essential nutrients. In that sense, they are "empty" calories.

They have a high content of omega-6 polyunsaturated fats, which contain multiple double bonds that are prone to damage and rancidity when exposed to light or air.

These oils are particularly high in omega-6 linoleic acid. While you need some linoleic acid, most people today are eating a lot more than they need.

On the other hand, most people do not consume enough omega-3 fatty acids to maintain an adequate balance between these fats.

In fact, it is estimated that the average person consumes up to 16 times more omega-6 fats than omega-3 fats, although the ideal ratio can be between 1: 1 and 3: 1 (2).

High intake of linoleic acid can increase inflammation, which can damage the endothelial cells lining the arteries and increase the risk of heart disease (3, 4, 5).

In addition, animal studies suggest that it may promote the spread of cancer from mammary cells to other tissues, including the lungs (6, 7).

Observational studies found that women with the highest consumption of omega-6 fats and the lowest consumption of omega-3 fats had an 87-92% higher risk of breast cancer than those with a more balanced intake (8,9). ).

Also, cooking with vegetable oils is even worse than using them at room temperature. When heated, they release harmful compounds that can further increase the risk of heart disease, cancer and inflammatory diseases (10, 11).

Although the evidence on vegetable oil is mixed, many controlled trials suggest that they are harmful.

Bottom line: Processed vegetable and seed oils contain omega-6 fats. Most people already consume too much fat, which can cause several health problems.

2. BPA

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical found in the plastic containers of many common foods and beverages.

The main sources of food are bottled water, packaged foods and canned products, such as fish, chicken, beans and vegetables.

Studies have shown that BPA can be expelled from these containers and taken to food or drink (12).

Researchers have reported that food sources make the greatest contribution to BPA levels in the body, which can be determined by measuring BPA in the urine (13).

One study found BPA in 63 of 105 food samples, including fresh turkey and canned infant formula (14).

It is believed that BPA mimics estrogen by binding to the receptor sites destined for the hormone. This can alter the normal function (12).

The recommended daily limit of BPA is 23 mcg / lb (50 mcg / kg) of body weight. However, 40 independent studies have reported negative effects at levels below this limit in animals (15).

In addition, while the 11 studies funded by the industry found that BPA had no effect, more than 100 independent studies have found it to be harmful (15).

Studies in pregnant animals have shown that exposure to BPA leads to reproductive problems and increases the future risk of breast and prostate cancer in a developing fetus (16, 17, 18, 19).

Some observational studies have also found that high levels of BPA are associated with infertility, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity (20, 21, 22, 23).

The results of one study suggest a connection between high levels of BPA and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). PCOS is an insulin resistance disorder characterized by high levels of androgens, such as testosterone (24).

Research has also linked high levels of BPA to the production and function of altered thyroid hormone. This is attributed to the chemical binding to thyroid hormone receptors, which is similar to their interaction with estrogen receptors (25, 26).

You can reduce your exposure to BPA by looking for BPA-free bottles and containers, as well as eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods.

In one study, families who replaced packaged foods with fresh foods for 3 days experienced a 66% reduction in their BPA levels in their urine, on average (27).

You can read more about BPA here: What is BPA and why is it bad for you?

Bottom line: BPA is a chemical that is commonly found in plastic and canned products. It can increase the risk of infertility, insulin resistance and diseases.

3. Trans fats

Trans fats are the least healthy fats you can eat.

They are created by pumping hydrogen in unsaturated oils to convert them into solid fats.

Your body does not recognize or process trans fats in the same way as natural fats.

It is not surprising that eating them can lead to a series of serious health problems (28).

Animal and observational studies have repeatedly shown that the consumption of trans fats causes inflammation and negative effects on heart health (29, 30, 31).

Researchers who looked at data from 730 women found that inflammatory markers were higher in people who consumed the most trans fat, including 73% higher CRP levels, which is a strong risk factor for the disease cardiac (31).

Controlled studies in humans have confirmed that trans fats lead to inflammation, which has profoundly negative effects on heart health. This includes altering the ability of the arteries to dilate and maintain blood circulation (32, 33, 34, 35).

In a study that analyzed the effects of several different fats in healthy men, only trans fats increased a marker known as e-selectin, which is activated with other inflammatory markers and causes damage to the cells lining the blood vessels (35).

In addition to heart disease, chronic inflammation is at the root of many other serious conditions, such as insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and obesity (36, 37, 38, 39).

The available evidence supports avoiding trans fat as much as possible and using healthier fats instead.

Bottom line: Many studies have found that trans fats are highly inflammatory and increase the risk of heart disease and other conditions.

4. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH)

Red meat is a great source of protein, iron and several other important nutrients.

However, it can release toxic byproducts called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) during certain cooking methods.

When the meat is grilled or smoked at high temperatures, the fat drips onto the hot cooking surfaces, which produces volatile PAH that can seep into the meat. Incomplete combustion of coal can also cause the formation of PAH (40).

Researchers have found that PAH are toxic and capable of causing cancer (41, 42).

PAHs have been linked to an increased risk of breast and prostate cancer in many observational studies, although genes also play a role (43, 44, 45, 46, 47).

In addition, researchers have reported that high intakes of PAH from grilled meats may increase the risk of kidney cancer. Again, this seems to depend in part on genetics, as well as on additional risk factors, such as smoking (48, 49).

The strongest association seems to be between grilled meats and cancers of the digestive tract, especially colon cancer (50, 51).

It is important to keep in mind that this connection to colon cancer has only been observed in red meat, such as beef, pork, lamb and veal. Poultry, such as chicken, appear to have a neutral or protective effect on the risk of colon cancer (52, 53, 54).

One study found that when calcium was added to diets rich in cured meat, the markers of cancer-causing compounds decreased in both animal and human feces (55).

Although it is better to use other cooking methods, you can reduce the PAH by up to 41-89% when roasting by minimizing smoke and quickly removing the drops (42).

Bottom line: Roasting or smoking red meat produces PAH, which have been linked to an increased risk of several types of cancer, especially colon cancer.

5. Coumarin in cinnamon cassia

Cinnamon can provide several health benefits, including lower blood sugar levels and reduced cholesterol levels in people with type 2 diabetes (56).

However, cinnamon also contains a compound called coumarin, which is toxic when consumed in excess.

Two of the most common types of cinnamon are Cassia and Ceylon.

Ceylon cinnamon comes from the inner bark of a tree in Sri Lanka, known as Cinnamomum zeylanicum. Sometimes it is known as "true cinnamon".

Cassia cinnamon comes from the bark of a tree known as Cinnamomum Cassia That grows in China. It is less expensive than Ceylon cinnamon and represents approximately 90% of the cinnamon imported into the United States and Europe (57).

Cassia cinnamon contains much higher levels of coumarin, which is linked to an increased risk of cancer and liver damage at high doses (57, 58).

The safety limit for coumarin in foods is 0.9 mg / lb (2 mg / kg) (59).

However, one research found baked goods of cinnamon and cereals that contained an average of 4 mg / lb (9 mg / kg) of food, and a type of cinnamon cookie that contained a whopping 40 mg / lb (88 mg / kg). kg) (59).

In addition, it is impossible to know how much coumarin is actually in a certain amount of cinnamon without tasting it.

German researchers who analyzed 47 different powders of cassia and cinnamon found that the coumarin content varied dramatically between samples (60).

The tolerable daily intake (TDI) of coumarin was set at 0.45 mg / lb (1 mg / kg) of body weight and was based on studies in animals with liver toxicity.

However, studies of coumarin in humans have found that certain people may be vulnerable to liver damage at even lower doses (58).

While Ceylon cinnamon contains much less coumarin than cinnamon cassia and can be consumed generously, it is not as widely available. Most of the cinnamon in the supermarkets is the cassia variety of high coumarin.

That said, most people can safely consume up to 2 grams (0.5-1 teaspoon) of cassia cinnamon per day. In fact, several studies have used three times this amount without reported negative effects (61).

Bottom line: Cassia cinnamon contains coumarin, which can increase the risk of liver damage or cancer if consumed in excess.

6. Added Sugar

Sugar and high fructose corn syrup are often called "empty calories." However, the damaging effects of sugar go beyond that.

Sugar has a high fructose content and excessive fructose consumption has been linked to many serious conditions, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and fatty liver disease (62, 63, 64, 65, 66 , 67).

Excess sugar is also linked to breast and colon cancer. This may be due to its effect on blood sugar and insulin levels, which can boost tumor growth (68, 69).

An observational study of more than 35,000 women found that those with higher sugar intakes had twice the risk of developing colon cancer than those who consumed low-sugar diets (70).

While small amounts of sugar are harmless to most people, some people can not stop after a small amount. In fact, they can be driven to consume sugar in the same way that addicts are forced to drink alcohol or drugs.

Some researchers have attributed it to the ability of sugar to release dopamine, a neurotransmitter in the brain that stimulates reward pathways (71, 72, 73).

Bottom line: A high intake of added sugars can increase the risk of several diseases, such as obesity, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and cancer.

7. Mercury in fish

Most types of fish are extremely healthy.

However, certain varieties contain high levels of mercury, a known toxin.

Shellfish consumption is the biggest contributor to the accumulation of mercury in humans.

This is the result of the chemical making its way into the food chain at sea (74).

Plants that grow in waters contaminated with mercury are consumed by small fish, which are then consumed by larger fish. Over time, mercury accumulates in the bodies of larger fish, which are eventually consumed by humans.

In the United States and Europe, determining the amount of mercury that people get from fish is difficult. This is due to the large mercury content of different fish (75).

Mercury is a neurotoxin, which means it can damage the brain and nerves. Pregnant women are particularly at risk, since mercury can affect the development of the brain and nervous system of the fetus (76, 77).

A 2014 analysis found that in several countries, mercury levels in hair and blood of women and children were significantly higher than recommended by the World Health Organization, particularly in coastal and near-mine communities (78) .

Another study found that the amount of mercury varied widely between different brands and types of canned tuna. He found that 55% of the samples exceeded the safety limit of 0.5 ppm (parts per million) of the EPA (79).

Some fish, such as king mackerel and swordfish, are extremely rich in mercury and should be avoided. However, it is still advised to eat other types of fish because they have many health benefits (80).

To limit your exposure to mercury, choose shellfish from the "lowest mercury" category on this list. Fortunately, the low-mercury category includes most fish with higher omega-3 fats, such as salmon, herring, sardines and anchovies.

The benefits of eating these fish rich in omega-3 far outweigh the negative effects of small amounts of mercury.

Bottom line: Certain fish contain high levels of mercury. However, the health benefits of eating low-mercury fish far outweigh the risks.

Bring the message home

Many claims about the harmful effects of the "toxins" of food are not supported by science.

However, there are several that can be harmful, especially in large quantities.

That said, minimizing exposure to these harmful chemicals and ingredients is incredibly easy.

Simply limit the use of these products and respect as much as possible the integral foods of a single ingredient.

Reference: https: //www.healthline.com/nutrition/7-food-toxins-that-are-concerning


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