Protein powders are popular additions to smoothies, yogurts and other foods. However, some could be toxic according to a recent report.
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Researchers from the Clean Label Project, a nonprofit that focuses on the health and transparency of consumer product labeling, recently conducted a study to determine possible dangers associated with protein powders.
“You diet. You work out. You try to eat healthily. Often this means incorporating a protein powder into your daily routine. But what’s REALLY in the protein powder that so many of us reach for to put in our morning smoothies?” the scientists wrote in a statement. “We wanted to find out for ourselves.”
To do so, they examined 134 of the top selling protein powders from 52 brands, according to Amazon and Nielsen. They then screened them for over 130 harmful ingredients, including heavy metals, pesticides, an industrial chemical used for plastics called BPA, and other contaminants linked to cancer and additional health conditions.
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After analyzing the results, they found that more than 50 percent of the powders had detectable levels of BPA and over 70 percent had detectable levels of metals, including lead and cadmium. While BPA is commonly found in plastic water bottles, lead comes from water pipes and cadmium is an active component in battery acid.
Furthermore, they discovered the organic powders on average had more than twice the amount of metals than the non-organic ones. And about 75 percent of the plant-based powders tested positive for lead.
“Contaminants are the result of sourcing and production practices. Contaminants can be found in soils because of pesticides and mining run-off (ex. heavy metals) and can be absorbed into plants just like nutrients,” they said. “They can also be the result of the manufacturing process.”
To combat the issue, the scientists are encouraging buyers to be conscious by scanning food item labels for potentially harmful ingredients. They also compiled a list of the best and worst protein powders based on their findings. Take a look below.
Top 5 protein powders
1. Puori, PW1 Vanilla Pure Whey Protein
2. BioChem, Vanilla 100% Whey Protein
3. BodyFortress, Super Advanced Vanilla 100% Whey Protein
4. Performix, Pro Whey + Sabor Vanilla Protein with Amino Beads
5. Pure Protein, Vanilla Cream 100% Whey
Bottom 5 powders
1. Vega, Sport Plant-Based Vanilla Performance Protein
2. 360Cut, Performance Supplements 360ORI WHEY Chocolate Silk Premium Whey Protein
3. Quest, Chocolate Milkshake Protein Powder
4. Nature’s Best, ISOPURE Creamy Vanilla Zero Carb
5. Garden of Life, Organic Shake & Meal Replacement Chocolate Cacao Raw Organic Meal
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