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Are There Toxic Metals In Your Protein Powder?

Your metabolism-boosting, muscle-maintaining efforts shouldn't come with a side of havoc-wreaking metals.

If you've got a tub of protein powder in your pantry, it's probably because you're adamant about your intake of the muscle-building and metabolism-spiking macro. However, if you're concerned about your health, you might want to take note of a recent study's shocking findings.

The study:

The Clean Label Project tested a single serving size of 134 popular protein powders and discovered that many of them contain heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury, and lead in addition to contaminants such as pesticides and BPA.

"These toxins accumulate in your body and can stay there for years," Tunde Akinleye, a test program leader in Consumer Reports' Food Safety Division, told Consumer Reports. "Frequent consumption of foods that contain them can have adverse health effects over the long run."

Which products should you look out for?

The powders that fared the worst include Garden of Life Organic Shake & Meal Replacement Chocolate Cacao Raw Organic Meal, Nature's Best Isopure Creamy Vanilla Zero Carb, Quest Chocolate Milkshake Protein Powder, 360Cut Performance Supplements 360PRO Whey Chocolate Silk Premium, and Vega Sport Plant-Based Vanilla Performance Protein. Surprisingly, the plant-based powders scored poorer scores than the whey- and egg-based picks.

Sean Callan, PhD, neuroscientist, and director of operations at Ellipse Analytics (the lab in which the powders were tested) suspects that's because plants easily absorb metals from the soil and that non-vegan options would only contain these toxic substances due to the livestock's feed, which would be diffused by the animal.

Is organic any better?

Shockingly, products carrying the USDA Organic label didn't fare any better than their conventional counterparts. On the contrary, organic powders contained on average two times the heavy metals than the non-organic supplements. Callan told Consumer Reports that this surprising result "probably has more to do with these products being plant-based than being organic." One silver lining of organic powders was that they contained 40 percent less BPA than non-organic supplements.

These protein powders are low in heavy metals:

If you've unknowingly scooped one of these tainted powders into a post-workout shake, switch it out for a tub that fared well in the study. The following Eat This!-approved powders contained the least contaminants: BioChem Vanilla 100% Whey Protein and Puori PW1 Vanilla Pure Whey Protein.

Looking to boost your daily protein intake without the side effects of some of these questionable supplements? Turn to whole foods such as these 30 Best High-Protein Foods for Metabolism—Ranked.

April Benshosan
April is a born-and-raised Brooklynite who has a passion for all things health, wellness, and tastebud-related. Read more about April