A foodie's quest to turn up the heat through strength and conditioning with whole food and a hungry mind.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

"Can" the Canned Tomatoes

Want to avoid the risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, reproductive problems, multiple cancers, and even brain disorders? Stop using canned foods; especially canned tomatoes!!

Similar to many other home cooks, canned tomatoes were the best option to great quick, healthy, and tasty meals.  Besides the common high sodium content, I felt that canned tomatoes were just as nutritious as the fresh ones.  Enter BPA (aka Bisphenol A), used to line the inside of cans to keep food from coming in contact and reacting with metal. BPA is controversial because it mimics hormone-like properties, and the acidity of tomatoes reacts with this chemical meant to prevent foods reacting to the metal.

There are a number of healthy studies that have found BPA to be problematic, here are several paragraphs from a healthy living blog that sums up the dangers of this chemical.

No question that BPA is best avoided. Scarily, most of us have it in our bodies:
One reason people may be concerned about BPA is because human exposure to BPA is widespread. The 2003-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III) conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found detectable levels of BPA in 93% of 2517 urine samples from people six years and older. The CDC NHANES data are considered representative of exposures in the United States. Another reason for concern, especially for parents, may be because some animal studies report effects in fetuses and newborns exposed to BPA.
A new study confirms the elevated risk of heart disease due to BPA exposure:
Researchers have confirmed that the bisphenol A (BPA) — widely used in plastics including baby bottles and other drink containers — increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Patients with the highest levels of the endocrine disruptor in their urine carried a 33% increased risk of coronary heart disease, a follow-up analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data showed.
Canned tomatoes in the United States contain BPA.
As Prevention.com reported, canned tomatoes made the list of foods that experts don’t eat. Tomatoes are acidic and will react with the metal in the cans if the cans aren’t coated with something. This interior coating contains BPA. Unfortunately, tomatoes also react with the epoxy resin that lines cans.

More of the general population are becoming aware of the harmful effects of BPA and can be found all over the main media outlets.  So, if you want to stop exposing yourself and others to BPA, what do you do?  When taking the time to prepare fresh tomatoes from the produce aisle is not an option, the best options are tomatoes packaged in a Tetra Pak container which is BPA free and recyclable, or tomato products in glass jars like salsa.

For straight up, nothing added tomatoes, Kelley and I only use the Pomi brand since they are packaged in Tetra Paks; other brands like Eden Organics and Bionaturae provide BPA free packaging too.  Since I like things spicy (hence this blog's name) and add things like onions, garlic, and peppers to most dishes, I frequently use salsa in a glass jar since glass does not have BPA lining.  Be cautious of the sodium content in salsa, it is usually pretty high and you should not need to add salt to the dish in this case.  Many brands also add things like corn starch and sugar to their product; make sure to read the ingredients to know what else you are getting!

The main source of BPA entering our bodies is through diet; here are a few ways (found here) to limit your exposure:

•Don’t microwave polycarbonate plastic food containers. Polycarbonate is strong and durable, but over time it may break down from over use at high temperatures.
•Plastic containers have recycle codes on the bottom. Some, but not all, plastics that are marked with recycle codes 3 or 7 may be made with BPA.
•Reduce your use of canned foods.
•When possible, opt for glass, porcelain or stainless steel containers, particularly for hot food or liquids.
•Use baby bottles that are BPA free.

Other manufacturers that do not use BPA include:
  • Eden Organic (canned goods)
  • Ella’s Kitchen (fruit puree packs)
  • POM (juices)
  • Kettle (nut butters)
  • Plum Organics (baby food)
  • Happy Baby (baby food)

Whatever you do, please be mindful of not only the food you eat, but what it is packaged in too!  Do you use canned tomatoes often?  Have you already made a change to limit BPA exposure?  If not, do you plan on changing soon? 
Please post to comments how you have or will reduce BPA in your food and drink; I'd love to hear new ideas!

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