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Benzene in Carrot Juice

Which beverages have been found to have benzene levels exceeding safety standards?

September 15, 2010 |
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Supplementary Info

Sources Cited


Image thanks to Joshua Hunter.


Speaking of toxic chemicals, last year we learned that some soft drinks have benzene in them: Well, this year, another beverage was found to have benzene levels exceeding safety standards. Which one was it? Apple juice, beer, carrot juice, coffee, red wine, or white? It was the carrot juice. There are some natural components in carrot juice that are turned to benzene when you heat it. Now fresh carrot juice has no benzene, though. Nor do carrots themselves.
The safety limit for benzene in drinking water is one microgram. Pasteurized carrot juice has that one microgram and bottled twice that. Now drinking water standards are made to be conservative, because they assume we’re drinking cups a day, but better to just eat carrots, or juice our own.

To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring watch the above video. This is just an approximation of the audio contributed by veganmontreal.

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Dr. Michael Greger

Doctor's Note

Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on beverages. Also, there are 1,686 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos--please feel free to explore them as well!

For more context, check out my associated blog post:  Prevent Breast Cancer by Any Greens Necessary

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  • Michael Greger M.D.

    Please feel free to post any ask-the-doctor type questions here in the comments section and I’d be happy to try to answer them. And check out the other videos on beverages. Also, there are 1,449 other subjects covered in the rest of my videos–please feel free to explore them as well!

  • cmarble

    Is the benzene coming from the natural components of the carrots in the juice or is it from an additional additive to the juice. In the study did they use organic carrot bottled juice or was it conventional?
    If there is natural componenet in carrots that converts to benzene when cooked, than does it also possibly apply to cooking carrots?

    • Toxins

      Hello cmarble!
      To answer your question about the benzene. It was not the additives + heat that caused the benzene it was the makeup of the carrot themselves. Thus, it wouldn’t matter whether they were conventional or organic. To quote the study, “This study shows that carrot juice contains substances such as beta-carotene, phenylalanine or terpenes that may act as precursors for benzene formation during food processing.”
      In reality, not enough studies have been done on just the carrots, its been on carrot juice. Keep in mind that to make carrot juice you need A LOT of carrots so although it seems reasonable to think cooking carrots might produce benzene, it would be a small, insignificant amount. In a separate study in Germany regarding benzene in carrot juice,”The heating temperature was studied at four levels (unheated, 100, 125 and 150C) and the heating time was varied at three levels (30, 60 and 120 min)” In this study, they were organic. Thus, one can assume longer heating means more benzene.
      Hope this helps!

  • Yair

    Dr. Gregor

    Your site is great. I see it as the example for how doctors of one specialty can keep up with a different speciality. In Caldwell Esselstyn’s book “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, he writes of a compound called asymmetric dimethyl arginine ADMA, which prevents arginine from being a substrate for NO synthase. He further speaks of a different enzyme, dimethyl arginine dimethyl amino hydrolase (DADAH)which readily breaks up the ADMA, allowing NO synthase to produce NO from arginine. He states that by products from a meat eating diet inhibit DADAH and gives this as a reason that plant based eaters have less heart disease than meat eaters with equal cholesterol levels.Can you explain this, elaborate on it or provide some references? Thanks.