Here’s One Ingredient to Avoid: BPA

Eating nutritious, fresh foods is a critical component to staying healthy. But it’s almost important to consider how we store our food once it enters our kitchen.

Take a look in your pantry and kitchen cabinets for metal food and beverage cans and plastic containers that might contain bisphenol A, or BPA. This endocrine disruptor has been linked to infertility as well as breast and prostate cancers.

For years, water bottles, utensils, baby bottles and storage containers were made with polycarbonate plastic, which contains BPA. BPA is also used in the epoxy linings that you see inside cans of food.

It’s important to never heat food in plastic containers. The most contamination occurs when you reheat foods this way. But some leaching also happens when you store cold foods as well.

So what should you use?

Many food storage companies are coming out with glass containers in various sizes that have glass and plastic lids, which do not contain BPA.

Make sure your follow the washing directions for any plastic lids. Most need to stay on the top rack of the dishwasher. Some dishwashers have a plastics setting to avoid heating anything at a high temperature. Hand washing plastics is a good alternative, too.

Federal health officials are particularly concerned about the potential harm to young children from BPA because their bodies are still developing and do not eliminate chemicals as well as older children and adults. Scratched plastic cups and utensils should be thrown away. They can harbor bacteria as well.

How do you tell if a plastic container has BPA?

Look at the bottom of the container. In general, recycle codes 1, 2, 4, 5, and 6 are unlikely to have BPA. Some plastics marked with the numbers 3 or 7 may be made with BPA, according to the National Institutes of Health.

To gain a better understanding of how BPA affects people’s health, federal agencies are conducting $30 million in studies at the National Institutes of Health. The results from these studies are expected within the next two years.

In the meantime, swap your plastics for glass.

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