Do you like to grill or bake your food? Chances are, if you do, you probably use of aluminum foil while cooking from time to time; it’s not at all uncommon to bake a potato wrapped in foil or to line a pan with it, or wrap up some meat to cook on a high heat grill. You may not know it, but cooking with aluminum foil can potentially be harmful to your health.
Research indicates that the aluminum in aluminum foil may actually transfer from the foil into the food itself. If the food in question is spicy or acidic in nature, it is even more likely to absorb some measure of aluminum from the foil. Now, this may not seem like a big deal at first glance, but you should consider the number of foods we prepare with spicy marinades or those with a vinegar base. Hint: There’s a lot of them, especially when the holidays or grill season rolls around.
So, what harm can excess aluminum do to the body? Well, high levels of aluminum are thought to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease; the brain tissue of Alzheimer’s patients has been found to contain notable levels of aluminum, and according to some science, aluminum can slow the growth of brain cells. There are other ill effects, but this is easily the most significant of them and may be good enough reason all by itself to drop foil from your cooking habits.
If you’re a skeptic, or otherwise not ready to give up the foil just yet, you do have another option; the most important thing is to keep your food and the foil from touching. When you’re lining a pan with foil, put a layer of parchment paper, and keep that between the foil and food. That being said, if you are concerned about aluminum foil, or other items leeching into your food, here are a few more things you might try to avoid:
Did you know that there are different kinds of plastic wrap? Some of them are safe to microwave, but others are not. Before you put any plastic wrap in the microwave, you should check the packaging to see if the plastic wrap is “FDA Microwave-Safe”. If it is not, then you should definitely avoid microwaving it. If you microwave plastic wrap that is not microwave safe, you run the risk of contaminating your food with harmful BPA and polyphenols. These harmful chemicals can increase the risk of high blood pressure, or cause changes and brain damage, particularly for young children.
Just like plastic wrap, your plastic containers should be handled with the same level of caution. If the container is not marked as FDA Microwave-Safe, then you should transfer the food to a container that can be used in the microwave before attempting to heat it. This is even more true of the one-use plastic containers you buy food products in; typically, they are meant to be consumed in one sitting, but if you end up with leftovers, you will need to transfer them. They aren’t meant to be put in the microwave and so can melt if placed inside.
Even though both hot and cold foods are served in Styrofoam, it’s important to know that Styrofoam is also made dangerous by excessive heat. This is even truer if you are using it to contain particularly greasy or oily foods; The oil in such portions can end up melting the container, which means you end up with a not so healthy dose of Styrofoam in your food.
Believe it or not, there are certain ceramic containers that are very dangerous to microwave. Even though ceramics can easily withstand the heat of the microwave, you might be surprised to learn that older ceramic cups are a potential health hazard. This is typically the case for ceramics that were made prior to the 1960’s, are glazed with potentially dangerous chemicals as part of the crafting process. Unfortunately, these substances can bleed off their ceramic containers, and into your food and drinks, which could cause illness.Related: 11 Toxic Household Items You Should Throw Away NOW
Ultimately, when it comes to cooking your food, you’re best off using glass or metal; containers made of these typically won’t end up mixing in with your food. If you end up with some leftovers you’d like to reheat, and you’d rather skip the stove in favor of the microwave, then you’d better skip the plastic products and opt for paper containers instead. It’s much better for your health, and better for the environment too.
Aluminum Foil further reading: http://www.webmd.com/alzheimers/guide/controversial-claims-risk-factors#1, http://www.electrochemsci.org/papers/vol7/7054498.pdf, http://www.snopes.com/cooking-with-aluminum-foil-puts-you-at-risk-for-alzheimers/