Black Sesame Seeds on Heavy Metal Cleanup

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scienceandfooducla

Black sesame seeds: more than just a tasty garnish on sushi rolls and rice. Photo credit: Arnold Gatilao (arndog/Flickr) Black sesame seeds: more than just a tasty garnish on rice. Photo credit: Arnold Gatilao (arndog/Flickr)

Heavy metals, such as cadmium, lead, and mercury, leach into our food supply through the air and water; these undesirable additives come from industrial processes such as mining, smelting, battery manufacture, electroplating, and pesticide production. Cadmium and lead are the chief contaminants of rice, wheat, and foods containing these cereals [1]. Mercury is often found in seafood, but cadmium and lead can also be present in smaller amounts [2]. Even trace amounts of these heavy metals can be extremely toxic to human health, since they have extremely long biological half-lives, or time required for half the absorbed metals to leave the body: 10 years for cadmium [3], 30 days for lead [4], and 60 days for mercury [5]. Thus, there is an increased risk of chronic poisoning due to heavy metal accumulation in tissues and…

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