applesThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list cadmium as number 7 in the 275 most hazardous substances. It’s a highly dangerous heavy metal that has been linked to impaired brain function, organ damage, and even autism. Good news: research indicates quercetin, an antioxidant compound found in onions, apples, and more, to actually counter the toxic effects of this dangerous metal.

Published in Anatomical Record in 2010, a study from Zhejiang University in China indicated orally administered cadmium had detrimental effects on sperm health, but supplementing the mice’s diets with quercetin led to a promising decrease in sperm cell death.

As reported by NaturalNews:

“The researchers orally administered 4 mg/kg of body weight of cadmium chloride to male mice. After two weeks, the scientists were able to observe that damage to sperm cells occurred early in spermatogenesis. This damage was caused by decreased levels of the testicular antioxidant glutathione (GSH) and activity levels of the testicular antioxidants superoxide dismutase (SOD) and GSH peroxidase (GSH-Px), as well as increased lipid peroxidation and hydrogen peroxide production in the testes. The researchers also observed that cadmium led to higher levels of sperm cell death (apoptosis) by increasing the expression of the proteins BAX and caspase-3 while decreasing expression of the protein Bcl-xl.”

Linked to lung, kidney, and bone damage, cadmium is a toxic heavy metal that has also been connected to cancer and impaired brain function. Researchers with Arizona State University indicated cadmium in the blood to be one of the strongest indicators of severe autism symptoms. The heavy metal is said to be more harmful to the health of children than lead.

A study from the European Commission in 2012 found cadmium in cocoa products, sea weeds, and crustaceans. Analyzing dietary exposure to the heavy metal, researchers found the greatest amount of cadmium came from potatoes, bread and rolls, and “fine bakery wares”.

It contaminates the food supply through its use as a pigment in food containers and plastics, as well as its presence in soil contamination.

If quercetin can truly protect against cadmium exposure, it may be time to up your apple and onion consumption—two foods with high levels of this important antioxidant. Further, quercetin is a flavanol that has been linked to additional benefits like reduced blood pressure, cholesterol oxidation, and even cancer prevention.

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