Saturday, 8 October 2011

Arsenic and Herbs

Arsenic in your food?? What is safe and what is not appears to be the question being asked. The major concern seems to be if there is "x" quantity of arsenic in a 5 oz. serving of something then will it harm a 250 pound male or will it harm a 10 pound infant if it is in formula. Presently no one knows the answer as to whether it is or is not harmful, and if so in what dosage to what type person.

Is this something new or is this something now being given media attention? We've known for decades that our body needs what are called trace minerals and other nutrients in order to survive and stay healthy. Arsenic tracings are part of the dietary nutritional requirements we need. Arsenic is healthy and beneficial given the right amount at the right time and actually provides the basics we need to stay healthy.

Presently there is concern that brown rice removes arsenic from the ground in greater amounts than do other foods we eat. The source of the arsenic is from decades gone by when arsenic was considered a safe reliable agricultural agent to spread on fields to stop plant death from insects and other pathogenic agents. In the U.S. we would fly planes over fields and drop large amounts of arsenic into the fields.

Today we find that brown rice is removing that residual arsenic from the ground and is using it in the plant for nutrition. Since derivative parts of brown rice are used in many products it is not surprising that some foods contain higher amounts of arsenic than others. The rice plants are not consuming the arsenic simply because it's there but because it needs nutrition to live and go through the regeneration process, that being produce seeds to propagate the species. Normal plant life cycle activity.

Often people use herbs and think the herbs are "better for them" but we find ourselves explaining that herbs are nothing but wild weeds in some culture somewhere in the world that the local population found a use for. The consumption of herbs is not itself necessarily healthy as herbs depend upon the soil also for their nutrition.

Fortunately though, with herbs, we use only small amounts and therefore they are not subject to food and drug regulations. What is regulated is food products such as brown rice we are now hearing more about. Herbs are used for seasoning and flavoring rather than a primary food source.

Historically herbs were used as "blood purifiers" but the thoughts emanated from stopping eating harmful foods and when the herbs grew in spring they were eaten. People felt better when they ate herbs but in reality they could now eat fresh and leave behind the winter's only food available, preserved in salt and often rancid.

The herbs may have arsenic traces depending on soil grown in, but the primary benefit of consuming fresh grown organic herbs is not always the plant itself, but with herbs as seasoning the bad things we consume are eliminated.

Salt, sugar, fat laden oils are eliminated from our diet when herbs are the seasoning agents. Our body's taste changes to shun non healthy ingredients and we relearn to use less of bad ingredients and more of healthy green herbs and seeds.

Do herbs ever have trace amounts of arsenic? Probably so, but even if in larger quantities the use of herbs as seasoning eliminates aggregate harmful effects.

Stay healthy, eat organically grown herbs and vegetables and don't worry about trace arsenic.

Bob Johnson is /founder of HerbFest, the largest herb festival in the U.S. The website is laden with information about herbs, including a weekly free herb tip newsletter, as well as over 100 videos on growing and using herbs. For herb information it is one of the most reliable and useful web sites on herbs on the internet.

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