Canned tomatoes: Why you should stay away!

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    tomatoes and cans

    Canned tomatoes may contain BPA (Shutterstock)

    Of all canned vegetables, many people turn to canned tomatoes for their convenience. Half of the canned foods aisle in the grocery store seems to be dedicated to tomatoes—diced, stewed, crushed, whole. But, this widely used food isn’t without dangers. As a matter of fact, it’s been named as one of the top foods to avoid by many different experts.

    So, what is the problem with canned tomatoes and why should you steer clear?

    Bisphenol A (BPA)

    BPA- it’s an organic compound used to make various plastics and can be found in all kinds of food storage products—from your reusable water bottle to those disposable food containers. But, it’s also used in canned goods. BPA is used to line food cans, and in the case of tomatoes, which are extremely acidic, this BPA can break down and leech into the food.

    Why does it matter?

    It’s safe to say that the vast majority of Americans are walking around with BPA in their bodies. We get it from the food we eat and the beverages we drink. And many would think that because food companies are allowed to use it, it has to be safe. But that isn’t entirely true.

    While the FDA won’t say that BPA is dangerous, they repeatedly release statements that they are continuing to study it. Recently, they banned the use of BPA in baby bottles, though most baby bottle and formula companies had stopped using BPA.

    In 2010, Canada became the first country to call BPA a “toxic substance.” And by the time governments start taking action against something with potential health risks, there’s a pretty good chance that solid evidence exists substantiating those risks.

    Hormone disrupter, artery narrower

    BPA is a hormone disrupter. It mimics estrogen in the body. And while many scientists are cautious to say that this could link BPA to reproductive problems or even cancers, numerous studies have said just that, and more.

    According to research, BPA can have negative effects on the reproductive system, the immune system, and the nervous system. It’s been linked to metabolic disorder, heart disease, miscarriages, diabetes, and neurologic and behavioral disorders.

    Just in the past few months, we’ve seen research linking BPA and breast cancer, and BPA and brain cancer. Most recently, last week researchers found people with higher BPA levels to have narrower arteries.

    Still, the industries who make money off of BPA and related products maintain these studies “prove nothing.”

    Alternatives

    tomato jars

    Tomatoes in glass jars are a healthier alternative (Shutterstock)

    Tomatoes are acidic. They allow more of the BPA in the can to find its way into the food and then into your body. Because it’s not uncommon to
    dump two cans of tomatoes into a pot of chili, for instance, we are feeding ourselves and our children a concentrated dose of this chemical with every bite.

    More and more companies are offering “canned” tomatoes in glass jars (Bionaturae and Coluccio). Trader Joes offers tomatoes in Tetra Pak boxes. You can also find tomatoes dried. You simply need to reconstitute them with water.

    You can opt for fresh tomatoes. Peels come off easily after blanching (a quick boiling water bath followed by an ice bath), and then the tomato can be chopped, crushed, or used whole.

    If you like reaching into the cabinet and finding rows of ready-to-go tomatoes, why not try canning them yourself?

    Hit the farmer’s market for some organic tomatoes (or grow your own), and spend the day stocking your cabinet with BPA-free and likely much better tasting tomatoes.

    Taking control of your health can be costly and time consuming, but the alternatives can be worse. Simple changes can make major differences in you and your family’s health, and canned tomatoes is a relatively small sacrifice to make.

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