Do You Know Nutrition: Read labels to reduce contaminant intake

By Phylis Canion
March 18, 2014 at midnight
Updated March 17, 2014 at 10:18 p.m.

Phylis Canion

Phylis Canion

Editor's note: This is Part III of a question from the previous column.

What foods are the most contaminated and should be switched to organic?

Baby food and fish are the topic of this installment.

Baby food ranks ninth in a list of the Top 10 toxic baby products - baby mattresses, waterproof mattress pads, cheap wooden toys, BPA-contaminated bottles, BPA-contaminated sippy cups, soft plastic teethers, baby washes and lotions, diaper creams and coming in in tenth place - disposable diaper - the levels of pesticides and insecticides in baby food is disgusting.

Safety levels are based on exposure in adults rather than tiny baby bodies that eat far more produce and fruits than the average adult.

Health risk from a type of pesticide known as organophosphates can disrupt a child's nervous system, according to the Environmental Working Group. Organophosphates can produce lower IQs and can cause behavioral and learning disorders.

This chemical tends to be more concentrated in thin-skinned fruits and vegetables such as grapes, apples and peaches. Thick-skinned produce, such as oranges, melons and bananas, contain smaller amounts of toxic residue.

Even though organophosphates are eliminated faster than lead, arsenic and cadmium (also found in baby food), mothers have legitimate concerns over food safety of baby foods.

Because the immune system of infants is less developed than an adult, infants are more vulnerable to toxins. While the controversy rages on about the safety of baby food, I still recommend reading labels and purchasing organic when possible.

One of the most recommended foods for better health and longevity is fish, yet it is increasingly becoming one of the most contaminated sources of protein in the world, according to

The most common contaminants found in fish include mercury, polychlorinated biphenyl and toxic metals such as cadmium, lead, chromium, arsenic and strontium.

Studies, as well as articles published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, state eating fish at least twice a week versus less than once a month can cut the risk of a stroke in half. The decision is which fish is safest.

Wild-caught fish is the best choice as opposed to farm-raised. Fish size is an important factor to consider as well, since larger fish feast upon smaller fish that may have accumulated small amounts of contaminants. It's best to select scallops, shrimp, flounder, haddock and sole.

Be diligent - your health is priceless.

Thought for the week: You can't have everything. Where would you put it?

Next free nutrition class is at 6 p.m. Thursday at The Wellness Center in Cuero.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, email her at This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.



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