We have now heard for years that fruit juice is no good for us. Fruit is excellent but removing the juice from the flesh leaves you with little more than sugar and a few vitamins. Juice has been linked to blood sugar spikes, kidney health and obesity. Now, even more worryingly, heavy metal and arsenic have been found in the drink we still think of as a better-for-you alternative to soda, energy and sports drinks.
Consumer Reports has found cadmium, inorganic arsenic, mercury or lead in every single one of the 45 juice products it tested from major U.S. brands. Almost half of the juices had metal levels deemed “concerning.” Seven had heavy metal concentrations high enough to harm kids who drink just four ounces a day. The metals could damage developing brains and nervous systems. The FDA doesn’t have many guidelines for what metals or what levels can be in juice.
Some heavy metals occur naturally within foods or enter the food through waiter, soil or air. That can be hard to control, but others are accidentally added during manufacturing. Despite the fact that heavy metals can be naturally introduced into the chain, there are ways to mitigate the problem. For instance, Gerber uses reverse osmosis to remove heavy metals. It should be noted that the organic juices in the study were no more likely to be free of heavy metals than nonorganic brands.
This isn’t just something that can harm kids. While not all the juices were harmful to adults, “Five of the juices we tested pose a risk to adults at four or more ounces per day, and five others pose a risk at eight or more ounces,” says James Dickerson, Ph.D., Consumer Reports’ chief scientific officer. Years of exposure can increase the risk of bladder, skin and lung cancer. It can also cause cognitive and reproductive problems. Cardiovascular disease has been linked to arsenic. Cadmium increases the risk of bone damage and kidney disease.