Many top-selling dietary supplement powder protein drinks contain high levels of heavy metals, including arsenic, cadminum, mercury, and lead, as well as toxins like bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical used to make plastic containers – substances that have been linked to cancer, brain damage, and reproductive problems, according to a new study from the nonprofit food safety group, the Clean Label Project.
“These toxins accumulate in your body and can stay there for years,” says Tunde Akinleye, a test program leader in Consumer Reports’ Food Safety division. “Frequent consumption of foods that contain them can have adverse health effects over the long run.”
Five years ago Consumer Reports published research about products that contain concerning levels of contaminants, including arsenic, cadminum, lead and/or mercury, in supplemental powders it had tested. The Clean Label Project’s study used serving sizes for each product tested – which was different from product to product. Consumers sometimes consume more than one protein powder drink a day.
Researchers found that protein powders and drinks made from plant protein like soy or hemp had on average at least twice as much lead and far more of the other contaminants than products containing whey (milk) or egg. This may be because they tend to soak up heavy metals from soil, said Sean Callahan, PhD, a neuroscientist and director of operations at Ellipse Analytics, the lab that conducted the testing for the Clean Lab Project.
Organic products are often considered safer, but researchers found that they were just as likely to contain contaminants, and in some cases had even higher levels of heavy metals than nonorganic products.
Most protein powders contain between 15 and 25 grams of protein per serving. Researchers say it may be safer to get the same amount of protein from foods like low-fat dairy products, lean meats, fish, and legumes.
Source: Consumer Reports