I’ve been seeing all these news reports about arsenic in apple juice and rice, and now I’m scared that it could be in other foods I eat. Should I be concerned?

There is reason to be cautious. Chronic exposure to low levels of arsenic is linked to nausea, arrhythmia and weight gain. And studies are revealing that the amount making it into our foods and beverages is higher than what some health experts consider to be safe.

Arsenic can remain in soil for decades. So even though the United States banned the use of arsenic in pesticides in 1988, it still lingers in fields like the rice paddies in the South, where farmers used arsenic-laced pesticides on cotton crops 40 years ago. And since organically grown produce isn’t any safer, this makes the toxin hard to avoid.

That said, there are a few precautions you can take to protect yourself and your family. First, when you’re buying juice, look for brands that specify U.S-grown fruit on the label (like Nature’s Own). Brands that contain juice concentrate from China, where arsenic-based pesticides are still widely used, pose the highest risk. Second, I advise limiting your intake of rice. This grain is particularly vulnerable to contaminations because it’s grown in water, which easily dissolves arsenic. Grains like quinoa, couscous and millet are tasty substitutions. If you do consume rice, opt for white rice since brown’s fiber-rich hull has been found to contain the highest concentrations of metal.

I also suggest buying U.S-grown fruit and vegetables (whether fresh, frozen, or canned) whenever possible. And if you’re exhibiting symptoms of arsenic exposure, ask your doctor to test for the compound in your blood, urine, or hair.

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