Added sugar and salt are not the only additives in your food that you should be worrying about. Many foods and beverages (even raw vegetables!) are packaged in plastic containing bisphenol A (BPA), a hormone-disrupting chemical linked to the conditions:
- Prostate cancer
- Heart attack
- Coronary heart disease
- Insulin resistance
- Polycystic ovarian disease
More than 90% of adults have BPA in their bloodstream. But reducing your exposure to BPA quickly lessens the level of BPA circulating in your bloodstream and lowers the disruption caused by BPA to the balance of testosterone, estrogen, and other essential hormones in your body.
Other chemicals may be entering your home and body through common packaging as well. You can avoid this chemical overload by following these simple steps while shopping and cooking.
Your enemy is plastic. Grocery stores wrap up food???processed, prepared, frozen, and fresh???in acres and acres of plastic. Minimize the amount of plastic that???s touching your food and creating trash for you to throw out at home.
Fresh Fruits and Vegetable
In the produce aisle, it???s fairly easy to avoid plastic. Instead of grabbing those convenient (and unhealthy) rolls of plastic bags, look to see if your supermarket offers paper bags underneath the produce bins.
If your store does not offer paper produce bags, try these options:
- Paper lunch bags make good produce bags.
- Reusable fabric bags are available online and work well for shopping and food storage. (Don???t forget to wash the bags frequently to prevent cross-contamination with bacteria!)
- Ziploc plastic bags and Saran Wrap are BPA-free, according to the manufacturer, SC Johnson.
- Glad plastic storage containers are BPA-free, according to the manufacturer.
If none of these options work for you, just place the produce in your cart without a plastic bag, and, after thoroughly washing, put it in a glass or metal container at home.
Many canned goods and beverages contain BPA, which leaches from the can straight into your food.
I recommend avoiding prepared, packaged food whenever you can, as it???s likely to contain unnecessary fat, salt, sugar and stabilizing chemicals. But I know that some ingredients???like evaporated milk for baking???are impractical to recreate at home if you???re busy.
Try to purchase food or beverages in glass jars or aseptic containers, such as Tetra Pak cartons. Broth, soup, tomatoes, and tomato-based products are frequently sold this way.
If your ingredient only comes canned, look for canned goods that have been lined to stop contact between food and BPA. More and more manufacturers have adopted this practice because their customers have demanded it.
It may take a little detective work to locate BPA-free canned goods. Eden Organics has been selling BPA-free packaged food for some time. Try asking your grocery store manager for help identifying these safer products, or visit the websites of canned foods and drinks you enjoy and ask about BPA.
Some items on your list may only be available in plastic. Check the container???s recycling label. Numbers 1, 2, 4, and 5 indicate the plastic is free of BPA (although not other chemicals with unknown effects). Avoid numbers 3, 6, and 7 because they definitely contain BPA, which can leach into the food or beverages they contain.
Never microwave or heat food in plastic containers because heat causes plastic molecules to migrate into food.
At the Register
To further minimize your exposure to plastic, ask for paper bags for all your purchases, or take reusable cloth bags with you from home.
One more thing???try to avoid handling the thermal paper receipts printed by the store???s cash register. They???re contaminated with BPA.
Most of us work hard to ensure our kitchens are clean and safe for food preparation. But here again, there are some surprising sources of chemical contaminants in most kitchens, specifically in cookware and food packaging.
Nonstick cookware is a deadly convenience. Research shows the chemicals to create that slippery surface???including PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate)???are released into our food when heated.
You should replace your nonstick cookware with safer choices, such as cast iron, anodized stainless steel, enamel, or glass.
To avoid stickiness on the stovetop, cook with a tablespoon of healthy fat, like olive oil, or with a little extra water or vinegar in the pan. In the oven, line your dish with parchment paper.
Frozen and shelf-stable prepared meals
Some frozen foods are packaged in trays designed for heating in the microwave. These trays may contain BPA or phthalates, a plasticizing chemical linked to genital deformities and other health issues. And some food in paper packages designed to keep out grease, such as microwave popcorn, frozen pizzas, and French fries at many fast-food restaurants, contain PFOA or PFOS.
Do yourself a favor and freeze leftovers of your own healthy meals in glass or ceramic containers designed for reheating without damaging your health.
Please don???t be discouraged by the thought of all these chemicals in food and drink. It may seem as though they are inescapable. But the key is to reduce your exposure, not eliminate it entirely. Take it one step at a time, and before you know it, your toxic load will be lighter, and your health will be much improved. Detoxification is a process, and the sooner you begin, the better.