I’m a fan of Dr. Mehmet Oz, the TV medical expert because he is genuinely concerned about the well-being and health of the public and his show does a great job of educating and building awareness on a range of healthcare topics.
Recently, you may have heard the controversy surrounding his investigation about apple juice, i.e., discovering high levels of arsenic (a toxic metalloid) in five well-known apple juice brands.
He and his team tested 36 samples (they tested the same brands multiple times just to be thorough), and 10 exceeded the arsenic limits for drinking water set by the EPA (10 parts per billion), and some even measured above “levels of concern.”
Those levels are based on people consuming just 4 ounces a day. I’m sure as a parent or for that matter anyone who enjoys a glass of apple juice found this news most alarming especially because who drinks just four ounces in one serving – definitely not the millions of kids out there, and more importantly why is arsenic in our apple juice?
Dr. Oz admits he is concerned not only about arsenic levels in juice but also the possible ill effects from drinking it for many years and he further states that “we do not know of any cases of poisonings, we do know that arsenic is a substance that shouldn’t be in food and could be associated with various public health problems such as cancer.” He recommends that there should be standards for allowable levels of arsenic for juice just like we have for water.
Truth be told, I was surprised to learn that arsenic is in apple juice. What I didn’t know is that American apple juice is made from apple concentrate, which is imported mostly from China and a few other foreign countries. Even though the U.S. has banned the use of arsenic in pesticides, it has no control over what comes in from these countries. Even if we weren’t importing apples or apple concentrate, arsenic can sneak into apples from contaminated soil and water here at home.
The FDA, juice manufacturers, and some medical experts disagreed with Oz’s investigation and lambasted him for sounding a false alarm about the dangers of apple juice. His critics point out that arsenic is naturally present in water, air, food and soil in two forms — organic and inorganic.
According to the FDA, organic arsenic passes through the body quickly and is essentially harmless. Inorganic arsenic — the type found in pesticides — can be toxic and may pose a cancer risk if consumed at high levels or over a long period. “The Dr. Oz Show” did not break down the type when it tested several dozen juice samples for total arsenic. As a result, the FDA said the results are misleading.
So what’s my takeaway? We must minimize our exposure to toxins and contaminants, and we need to know exactly what is in our food supply – start to finish. We need more people like Dr. Oz to question what’s in our food, to push the buttons of the FDA, food procurers, manufacturers and distributors and what we can do to change our food supply system for the better.
As for apple juice, my son has a glass of OJ once a week and rarely drinks apple juice or any fruit juice. He drinks water and milk. Besides moderation is key – I think an occasional glass of juice (as long as it is not toxic!) is ok, but my family and I prefer eating fruits instead of drinking them. And if you’re trying to watch your weight, then definitely cut back on store-bought juice which is high in calories, loaded with preservatives and added sugars, and instead enjoy freshly squeezed juice in the comfort of your home.
Here’s my grandmother’s juice recipe. When I was little, she would use this giant mortar and pestle to squeeze the juice from the fruits, but luckily you can use a blender or juicer to whip up this juice in a jiffy!
Bindu’s Grandma’s Homemade Juice Recipe
Makes 2 small glasses:
- 2 small oranges, peeled and separated
- ½ cup of pomegranate
- ½ cup of grapes of your choice (select sweet one)
- Crushed ice (optional)
Add fruits into blender and blend until smooth (and a little water if necessary). Place ice in glasses and pour juice over it and serve.
About the Author
Author of Spice Up Your Life, Bindu Grandhi is passionate about healthy and flavourful cooking, especially when it’s flexitarian. She shares her health knowledge with the world by providing practical, healthy and tasty recipes as The Flex Cook.
What are your thoughts on the Dr. Oz and apple juice controversy?