Aluminum Foil for Cooking – Is It Really Dangerous?
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t have aluminum foil in their kitchen. It’s seemingly used for everything – covering leftovers, lining the bottom of an oven, baking foods, and even making food on the campfire. This product, also known as “tin foil” to some people, is so common that people use it to cook without thinking. Although most assume that it is perfectly safe to use in this manner, others worry that heating it to high temperatures can actually cause the food you’re making to be unsafe. This versatile metal that is so common today causes a number of people concern about the safety of food cooked in it, but is that concern unfounded? Or should we all be throwing out our rolls of tin foil and finding another way to cook our food?
What is Aluminum Foil?
The first step in determining whether this common household product is safe is deciding exactly what it is. It was first introduced in 1910. It’s made by flattening sheets of 98.5% pure aluminum through rollers until flat. These steel rollers will make the aluminum thinner and thinner with each pass through them and can actually make it as thin as 0.0005 inches thick without it tearing on the machinery. It is then rolled up and stored in boxes for home or commercial use. Although some people think that it is the same as tin foil, this is wrong. It is made of a completely difference substance. Tin foil tends to give food a tin taste, which is one of the main reasons that it was replaced by aluminum foil and embraced so quickly by the general population.
Aluminum in Your Food
You may not realize just how much aluminum there is in the world. It’s one of the most common minerals on this planet and is found in the dirt, water, air, rocks, and even in your food. Whole foods, sch as fish, grains, vegetables, fruits, and meats have the highest levels of this metal and when you eat them you will actually absorb some of it into your body. There are foods that have higher levels than others, such as mushrooms and radishes. Other ways that you can ingest aluminum include in additives in processed foods and in medications like antacids. If the food you’re consuming was packaged in aluminum then it is more likely to have a higher level of this metal than food that is in a different packaging.
Understandably, putting aluminum foil in the oven is likely to increase the amount of metal in your food. Using high temperatures like your grill or the oven will increase how much aluminum you consume. Making foil packet meals is one way of cooking that will cause your food have more aluminum. Instead of making foil packet meals, it’s easy to bake in glass dishes. This will limit your food’s exposure to this metal. Cooking foil dinners with ingredients like tomatoes and lemons will also quickly increase the level of this metal. The acids in this food will leech some of the metal from the foil packet meals and then you, in turn, will consume it.
As more and more people become aware of what’s in their food and how to prepare healthy options, they are leaning away from cooking foil packet meals due to the possibility of increased health risks. Aluminum is everywhere and all around and inside us, but that shouldn’t give people the license to not make smart decisions regarding their health.
Health Risks of Consuming too Much Aluminum
Doctors and scientists believe that the small amount of aluminum that we eat will not have a negative effect on your health. The small amount that most people eat each day will have absolutely no effect on the normal person. It’s when people start to increase how much of this metal that they eat that there may be problems. Cooking the majority of meals in aluminum foil in the oven is not a great idea. Some of the health problems that you may experience include Alzheimer’s disease. It’s believed that genetic, along with environmental factors, can lead to an increase in this disease. Autopsies show that some people with Alzheimer’s disease actually have higher levels of aluminum in their brains than people who don’t suffer from these disease. It’s important to note that taking medications that include this metal do not seem to be a cause for Alzheimer’s. It’s ingesting it from food, possibly from foil packet meals in the oven, that causes more problems. Too much of this natural metal also has been thought to cause IBS (inflammatory bowel disease). Scientists are looking for a link between IBS and aluminum consumption.
Uses of Aluminum
With all the fear regarding this metal it’s important to remember that it is abundant all around us and naturally occurs in our bodies. When used in antacids and aspirin it can actually reduce any irritation in the stomach. This is helpful for people who may otherwise have problems taking these medications. When added to food it can reduce caking of items like powdered milk.
For the average, healthy person, using aluminum foil or tin foil is not going to cause any health problems. The amount of aluminum that people have in their bodies is generally safe, and excess amounts of this metal are passed in your urine. However, it’s important to know that increased levels can cause health problems. One of the fastest ways to increase your body’s level of aluminum is through foil packet meals and putting aluminum foil in the oven. The next time you’re going to be baking, instead of reaching for a roll of this metal, try a porcelain or glass baking dish. You may have to adjust your cooking times or temperatures to get exactly what you want, but you won’t be risking adding any metal to your diet. You will already be consuming some aluminum in the food you eat, there’s no reason to add more because of how you’re preparing your food. This simple switch can give you peace of mind and may even help you be healthier in the long run.