On Nutrition by Ed Blonz

Arsenic in Apples, Cholesterol Question

DEAR DR. BLONZ: We would appreciate some information regarding the subject of naturally appearing arsenic. I have heard reports on the radio and elsewhere regarding natural arsenic in fruit juices. Could you please give some perspective and guidance on this issue as it affects children? -- P.M., via email

DEAR P.M.: The adage “the dose makes the poison” definitely applies, but with children, it’s a dose in relation to a smaller body in the process of growth. A cup of juice is the liquid extract of several pieces of fruit. For example, a child will not typically consume four apples at a sitting, but an 8-ounce glass of apple juice typically contains the fluids extracted from three to five medium apples. The whole fruit contains pulp, fiber and skin, but juice does not come with all the good stuff in the whole fruit. Added concerns are the sweetness and attraction of a sweet liquid that gets consumed like water, not to mention the potential negative impact on developing teeth. Children also have a smaller body size, which makes the concentrations higher; a greater risk in growing bodies. Bottom line, more of any heavy metal contaminant, such as arsenic, will be taken in with a volume of fruit juice than a similar volume consumed as whole fruit. I would monitor the sites of juice manufacturers you are considering to see if they are taking steps to reduce the arsenic levels in their products. You can push this forward by writing to them to express your concerns. More on arsenic in apple juice at b.link/arsenic48.

DEAR DR. BLONZ: I am doing the best I can with a big change in diet and activity but want to know what controls how much cholesterol the body manufactures. How can it manufacture more cholesterol than it gets in food? -- S.T., Charlotte, North Carolina

DEAR S.T.: Even if there were no cholesterol in your diet, your body would need to continue making it. This is because cholesterol is an essential structural element in every cell of the body. In addition, cholesterol is a raw material for a number of hormones, including estrogen and testosterone. Most of the cholesterol in the body is manufactured in the liver. When cholesterol is present in the foods we eat, the liver is programmed to make less. There are also genetic conditions in which the body makes way more cholesterol than it needs, but these tend to be rare. More common is the condition in which the body is forced to cope with an unbalanced diet that's light on the plant-based component, such as whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, but heavy on the rest. More on that debit side are stress-filled, unhealthful lifestyles with poor sleep habits. All these negatives contribute to blood cholesterol levels that are inconsistent with an interest in health.

Send questions to: “On Nutrition,” Ed Blonz, c/o Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO, 64106. Send email inquiries to questions@blonz.com. Due to the volume of mail, personal replies cannot be provided.