Get the metal out! 5/11
(This article is adapted from “Good Living” in the May 2011 ShopSmart magazine.)
Cookies and other goodies aren’t just bad for your waistline—they might also be bad for your brain. Aluminum, which is found in baking powder and many other things in your kitchen cupboards, is being studied as a potential factor in diseases such as Alzheimer’s.
The Food and Drug Administration says it’s safe to ingest aluminum, but results of the studies so far have been mixed, and the debate among scientists is far from over.
A recent study of rats fed the metal in amounts equivalent to those in the American diet showed that one-third of the animals had significantly lower memory function in their old age, compared with middle age. The aluminum-eating rats also showed signs of dementia.
If you’d like to reduce your aluminum exposure, you can make a few easy swaps on your grocery list. Baking powder has traditionally been made from sodium aluminum sulfate, but you can now buy aluminum-free versions by Argo, Rumford, and Bob’s Red Mill.
Aluminum also commonly shows up in foods such as canned beer and soda, chewing gum, antacids, and table salt. In processed foods such as American cheese, aluminum ingredients are often added for texture. A simple check of ingredient lists can help you identify processed foods made with aluminum.
Another way to reduce your exposure: If you cook with aluminum baking sheets or foil, especially with acidic foods such as tomatoes, you can minimize leaching by lining those aluminum products with parchment paper. Or simply cook with non-aluminum materials such as stainless steel, stoneware, and glass.
Green product watch: cookware 9/09