There's no doubt that nonstick pans are convenient. But the nonstick coating that makes the pans a cinch to clean up may also be harming your health. For Day 3 of the Healthy Kitchen Makeover Challenge, pull out your old cast-iron skillet and season it. Using cast-iron or stainless steel pots and pans can help you avoid perfluorocarbons (PFCs), chemicals used to coat nonstick pans that are linked to liver damage, developmental problems and cancer.
When you grow some of your own food, you can be extra sure that no chemicals have touched it. But you don't have to plant a whole garden to take part in the "grow your own" movement. Start small and plant your favorite herb in a small pot in your kitchen. It's easy to grow your own herbs and worth doing: a 2011 report revealed that cilantro is often laced with pesticide residues. Pesticide exposure is linked with diseases of the nervous system and problems with cell growth, including reproductive problems and some cancers.
Leave your shoes at the door. Wearing your shoes around the house can track in pesticides sprayed on lawns and other pollutants from outdoors. Pesticide exposure is linked with diseases of the nervous system and problems with cell growth, including reproductive problems and some cancers. Designate a spot near the door for your family and visitors to leave their shoes so it’s easier to make this a daily habit.
Take 5 minutes to look under your kitchen sink and read the labels on your cleaning products. Toss ones that contain synthetic fragrances, which contain phthalates. Phthalates act as endocrine disruptors, interfering with the body’s hormone systems and potentially leading to reproductive abnormalities, problems with fertility and increased risk for diabetes.
Tackle your plastic container collection. Many plastic containers contain BPA (bisphenol A), a chemical that’s a known endocrine disruptor, which could be linked to prostate and breast cancer, infertility, heart disease and diabetes. Set aside containers that have a recycling code “7” that is not labeled BPA-free and retire them from food storage. And when it’s time to clean them, take the time to hand wash any plastic food storage containers. A 2003 study found that plastic bottles released more BPA after they were cleaned in the dishwasher.
Looking for an easy way to build a collection of glass food storage containers? Save glass jars from jam, tomato sauce and peanut butter and use them to store food. Glass is a great alternative to plastic storage containers, which often contain BPA, a chemical that’s a known endocrine disruptor, which could be linked to prostate and breast cancer, infertility, heart disease and diabetes.
It's great to bring leftovers for lunch, but I cringe when I see people reheating their leftovers in a plastic container. Heating plastic containers can release BPA (bisphenol A) into your food. BPA is a chemical that’s a known endocrine disruptor, which could be linked to prostate and breast cancer, infertility, heart disease and diabetes. So to minimize your exposure to BPA, transfer your home-packed lunch to a ceramic bowl or plate before reheating in the microwave.
Check out can-free alternatives to the canned foods you use most on your next trip to the grocery store. The chemical BPA (bisphenol A), a so-called endorine disruptor, is used to make the resins lining some food cans and leaches into food or liquids, particularly acidic items such as tomatoes, or when containers are scratched or heated. For foods commonly purchased in cans, such as tuna, beans, broth and diced tomatoes, look for BPA-free packaging (BPA-free- labeled cans, cardboard boxes or glass). Or go fresh—cook a big batch of beans or broth and freeze it for quick meals later on.
Take a few minutes to skin your chicken or trim the fat from meat before cooking it. Animal fat can contain dioxins—chemicals that are stored in animal fat and have cancer-causing properties. More than 90% of your exposure to dioxins is through food, mostly meat, dairy, fish and shellfish. Want to take the EatingWell 14-Day Healthy Kitchen Makeover Challenge? Visit our Healthy Kitchen Makeover Challenge landing page to find find daily tips and tools you need to detox your kitchen.
Find a new fish that’s low in mercury to try for dinner this week. In high doses, mercury can harm the nervous system, heart, lungs, kidneys and immune system (and even low levels can affect brains of young children). Print out a pocket guide of low-mercury seafood choices in your region from the Monterey Bay Aquarium (seafoodwatch.org).