Taiwan Grown Leafy Greens Might Casue Problems

(Latest news updates on 10/30/2012)

Eat More Dark Leafy Greens on doctor's orders!
Which is not applied to Taiwan locals

A Taiwanese doctor warned Monday that a food source most consumers consider healthy -- leafy green vegetables -- could actually cause a potentially serious blood disorder

A woman who was recently sent to the hospital after passing out and was diagnosed with acute methemoglobinemia, a blood disorder in which the body cannot produce functional oxygen-carrying molecules in red blood cells.

The hospital determined that it was vegetables that caused her disease because of their high content of nitrites, most likely from excessive use of a certain kind of fertilizer.

The most common cause of methemoglobinemia is the ingestion of oxidizing agents such as nitrates, which are often used as additives to prevent foods such as hot dogs, bacon or ham from spoiling.

But excessive nitrates, which degrade into nitrites, can also be found in vegetables grown with large amounts of nitrogen fertilizer, a chemical compound commonly used in Taiwan to stimulate plant growth.

The blood disorder, in some cases, can also result in esophageal cancer, gastric cancer, or bladder cancer, he said.

The Homemakers Union Consumer Cooperative, a Taipei-based green life advocacy group, said in a 2010 report on a survey of seven vegetables commonly found in the domestic market, leafy vegetables were found to carry higher levels of nitrates than root vegetables.

Warning: these oxidizing agents cannot be washed off of vegetables, meaning "they (consumers) have to pay more attention to the source of the produce and how it was cultivated," local expert said. How, I wonder?

Update news:
A total of 25 kinds of fruit and vegetable showed the presence of at least three different types of pesticide, with a batch of fruits known as oval kumquats sold at a supermarket near National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei testing positive for a record nine pesticides, the group said. It worried about a ‘cocktail effect’ which would make a combination of various chemicals far more dangerous to health than the individual pesticides.
The tests turned up twelve cases of excessive amounts of pesticide or even completely banned pesticides.

Sep 18, 2012: The Council of Agriculture has listed imidacloprid as a pesticide that farmers must register and for which they must obtain permission on a case-by-case basis to use. It is only allowed on leafy vegetables, brassica vegetables and a limited number of other crops, but prohibited on lemons, the department said.
Moreover, the lemons were also found to carry 0.08ppm of parathion, which the council banned in 1997.
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, parathion is “extremely toxic from acute [short-term] inhalation, oral and dermal exposures,” and acute exposure may result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, difficult breathing, coma, respiratory failure and other symptoms.

Oct 30, 2012: Taipei health officials yesterday called for consumers to put vegetables in warm water for 10 minutes or in hot water for 2 to 3 minutes to effectively remove excessive nitrite contained in vegetables and safeguard their health.
Bok choy saw its nitrite content decline sharply to 1,500ppm from 7,500ppm after being put in hot water for 2 to 3 minutes, compared to the nitrite reduction to 3,000ppm from 7,500ppm for green Chinese cabbage and a cut to 750ppm from 1,500ppm for lettuce.

Note:  Reasons why you should consider avoiding nitrites in your foods
Nitrates are not harmful, but can easily be converted to nitrites. This conversion occurs at high temperatures e.g. frying cured meat at high temperatures.
a) Brain tumor in Children:Children born by mothers who consume high quantities of cured meat (cured with nitrites) during pregnancy have 2-3 time risk of developing brain tumor than those born by mothers who do not consume cured meat.
b) Cancer: Nitrites have been shown to contribute to a number of cancers. These include: Stomach cancer, Pancreatic cancer and Colorectal Cancer.
c) DNA mutations: Consumption of cured hot dogs have been shown to have compounds that cause DNA-mutation. If DNA mutations occur, they can cause cancer.


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