Are canned foods healthy? How can we avoid BPA?

There are a lot of canned foods including beans, soup, soft drinks and beer. Aside from the ingredients, are they healthy and can they be part of a healthy diet?

Many patients tell me they eat canned soup on a regular basis and stay away from additives that are on my “Nasty List”. It is a good start to look at additives, but let’s take a closer look at the can and containers that foods are stored in. Most cans are made of tin or aluminum, and are lined with a plastic to prevent the food from interacting with the metal, because it’s not attractive to have rust in your canned goods.

The problem is that the plastic that is lining most of the canned goods contains BPA. BPA is short for Bisphenol A. BPA is a chemical used to make certain plastics and epoxy resins.

Studies have shown that BPA has hormone like qualities and is an endocrine disruptor. That is to say that endocrine glands like ovaries, testicles, thyroid and other hormone producing parts of our anatomy can be adversely effected with consumption of BPA. These effects are especially profound in children while still in utero (in the womb prior to birth). BPA has been implicated in child behavior disorders and learning disabilities. It has also been implicated in erectile dysfunction and lack of libido (sex drive) in men, especially in males when they have been exposed in utero.

The FDA allows BPA to be in cans and used in connection with food products at this time. It does not allow it in baby bottles because of the outcry by consumers. There is still some controversy. While some literature seems to throw some doubt into the risk of BPA it still seems prudent to avoid it as risks seem plausible. BPA can easily be avoided. We just have to remember where it is.
Pubmed links showing evidence:

  1. Review of literature.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23994667
  2. Effects of Bisphenol A on male reproductive function.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24162092
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23528252

Action Items: Assume BPA is in canned foods and plastic containers. Avoid canned foods especially prior to or during pregnancy. Store left overs in your fridge in glass containers not plastic ones. Drink water from a glass and not a plastic bottle. Filtered water in a glass is cheaper than water in plastic bottles. Use glass baby bottles for your babies!

Alternatives: Many suppliers are using glass containers for fruit and vegetables. Look for food items in glass containers. Better yet eat fresh. If you drink beer or soft drinks drink them from a glass bottle not a can.

Please Note: I have added “canned foods” and “plastic bottles” to my “Nasty List

Even Steve Martin in “The Jerk” knew there was something wrong with the cans.

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