Dr. Oz's Kitchen Cleanout
Most moms have a stash of plates and cups that their children use to eat outside during the summer or for easy clean-up over the holidays. These dishes are often made of melamine, which is used in children's tableware because it's lightweight, inexpensive and unbreakable. It's this last quality that you should be concerned about: The dishes are shatter-resistant because of two chemicals that are combined in extreme heat during the manufacturing process. A byproduct of this process is "extra" melamine particles. When heat is applied to melamine, either from hot food or microwaving, or you pour an acidic liquid like orange juice into a melamine cup, those extra particles may react and seep into your food. A new study confirmed eating hot food out of melamine bowls causes potentially harmful particles to infiltrate your system. More research is needed to determine the health effects of low doses of melamine, but high levels can cause kidney issues and other serious health problems. Dr. Oz recommends limiting your exposure.
Follow these guidelines when dealing with melamine:
- Never microwave melamine.
- Don't use melamine plates or cups for hot or acidic foods and drinks.
- Throw out melamine products for young children, who are more susceptible to health risks.
Replace melamine dishes with plastic plates and bowls. You can easily find products that are BPA-free, light weight, and great for outdoors. For kids, try a line of silicone products, which are safe, heat resistant, easy to clean and dishwasher safe. You can also find dishes for babies in stainless steel, which is microwave and dishwasher safe and feature convenient silicone straws and handles.
Next: The potential danger of takeout containers
In addition to being convenient and inexpensive, plasticware is a great way to take food on the go. The problem is that some plastics contain BPA, a dangerous chemical that's been linked to neurological damage, thyroid issues and even cancer. Manufacturers include the chemical to make plastics that are light, durable and resilient. Most plastic items that are labeled with the number 7 for recycling purposes contain BPA. When these containers are heated, either in the microwave or dishwasher, they slowly melt and decompose, causing BPA to leach into your food.
Follow Dr. Oz's guidelines when using these containers:
- Never put a plastic container in the microwave or dishwasher. While some containers are listed as "microwave-safe," that only means they're resistant to melting—not that chemicals won't leach into your dinner.
- Wait for leftovers to cool before putting them into these containers.
- Throw away misshapen or cracked containers.
Purchase versatile plastic containers designed to go in the microwave and store hot food—they will say "BPA-free" and are worth the investment. Glass storage containers are also widely available. They're lightweight, feature BPA-free plastic lids and are safe in both the microwave and oven.
Packaged Foods With Hydrogenated Oil
Sugar, salt, fat—there are a lot of offenders lurking in your packaged food. The worst of all is hydrogenated oil. This ingredient extends the shelf life of foods by adding hydrogen to vegetable oil. In its natural liquid state, vegetable oil is easily digested by your body, but it spoils very quickly in packaged food. Once modified and hardened, hydrogenated oil will never go bad; this substance poses a huge threat to your health.
Also known as trans fat, hydrogenated oil is the worst kind of fat. Eating just 1 gram of trans fat a day can increase your risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even some cancers. Shockingly, many of your favorite processed snacks contain trans fat, even if it's not listed on the label. This misleading packaging is the result of a loophole in the FDA's guidelines. The administration allows manufacturers to round down the quantity of ingredients, so foods that contain less than half a gram of trans fats can be labeled as zero grams. This allows many manufacturers to sneak in trans fats without most people realizing what they're eating. With just 3 servings of these foods a day, you'll surpass your limit of trans fats. That's why you need to avoid foods that contain the words "hydrogenated" or "partially hydrogenated" on the label. Dr. Oz recommends throwing away all these foods.
Restock With Healthy Snacks and a Popcorn Maker
The big culprits of hidden trans fats are chips, crackers and microwave popcorn. There are plenty of healthy options if you know how to avoid hydrogenated oils and trans fats. Read the ingredient listings when picking snacks and consider buying your own popcorn maker. Ranging in cost from $20 to $40, this easy appliance allows you to make your own additive-free, healthy popcorn.
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