It’s National Nutrition Month, which is focused on the importance of making informed food choices. One way to stay healthy and informed is by avoiding exposures to toxic chemicals in food.
Here are our top 8 food-related tips:
1. Eat Your Veggies, but Kick the Can
We all know vegetables are great for us, but the lining in canned food can leach chemicals like BPA. Fresh vegetables are a better choice, but if you can’t make it to the market or want something out of season, choose frozen over canned or look for brands that make BPA-free cans.
2. Eat Smart with Organic Foods
Organic produce is grown without harmful man-made pesticides and herbicides. Choose locally grown organic fruits and vegetables from farmer’s markets or your grocer.
3. Eat Hormone-free Meat and Dairy
When we eat meat and dairy products, we’re also eating the residue of what those animals ate, including pesticides, growth hormones and contaminants. Choose hormone-free beef or dairy to eliminate those traces of hormones that can enter our bodies and contribute to an increased risk of breast cancer.
4. Ditch Teflon Pots and Pans
Compounds called PFCs are used in non-stick cookware. They may keep food and stains from sticking, but they stick around in the environment and the body for a long time. Make the switch to cast iron or anodized aluminum cookware when it’s time to replace your old pots and pans. Prioritize replacing the cookware used over high heat and pieces that are scratched.
5. Catch Some Non-toxic Seafood
In addition to mercury, seafood can also be contaminated with high levels of PCBs and dioxins (which you should especially avoid when pregnant). Buy farmed fish that are lower on the food chain; for larger fish like salmon and sea bass, buy wild-raised. And limit consumption of fattier fish, like lake trout, or fish that are bottom dwellers, like wild catfish.
6. Cook Healthier Fish
When you do eat fish, careful preparation and cooking can reduce the amount of PCBs consumed. Fillet fish to remove as much fat as possible. Frying may actually seal some of the toxic chemicals within the remaining fat, so bake it or broil it instead, which will cook off natural fats and cause the accumulated chemicals to drip out.
7. Grill with Care
Found in cigarette smoke and car exhaust, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are also found in the char of heavily grilled foods. So when grilling, use a slower roast method, go for medium instead of well-done, and scrape off any of the black stuff that results from overcooking.
8. Include Soy, but Don’t Overdo It
Natural plant-based estrogens in soy may provide healthy benefits in low doses, but may be a risk factor for breast cancer in higher doses. So use it as part of your regular diet (tofu, anyone?) but stay away from concentrated or isolated forms of soy derivatives, including genistein pills.