Health

Is It Safe to Use Aluminum Foil in Cooking?

Aluminum foil is a common household product that’s often used in cooking.

Some claim that using aluminum foil in cooking can cause aluminum to seep into your food and put your health at risk.

However, others say it’s entirely safe to use.

This article explores the risks associated with using aluminum foil and determines whether or not it is acceptable for everyday use.

What Is Aluminum Foil?

Aluminum foil, or tin foil, is a paper-thin, shiny sheet of aluminum metal. It’s made by rolling large slabs of aluminum until they are less than 0.2 mm thick.

It’s used industrially for a variety of purposes, including packing, insulation and transportation. It’s also widely available in grocery stores for household use.

At home, people use aluminum foil for food storage, to cover baking surfaces and to wrap foods, such as meats, to prevent them from losing moisture while cooking.

People may also use aluminum foil to wrap and protect more delicate foods, like vegetables, when grilling them.

Lastly, it can be used to line grill trays to keep things tidy and for scrubbing pans or grill grates to remove stubborn stains and residue.

Summary: Aluminum foil is a thin, versatile metal commonly used around the home, particularly in cooking.

There Are Small Amounts of Aluminum in Food

Aluminum is one of the most abundant metals on earth.

In its natural state, it is bound to other elements like phosphate and sulfate in soil, rocks and clay.

However, it’s also found in small amounts in the air, water and in your food.

In fact, it’s naturally occurring in most foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, grains and dairy products (2).

Some foods, such as tea leaves, mushrooms, spinach and radishes, are also more likely to absorb and accumulate aluminum than other foods.

Additionally, some of the aluminum you eat comes from processed food additives, such as preservatives, coloring agents, anti-caking agents and thickeners.

Note that commercially produced foods containing food additives may contain more aluminum than home-cooked foods.

The actual amount of aluminum present in the food you eat depends largely on the following factors:

Absorption: How readily a food absorbs and holds on to aluminum.

Soil: The aluminum content of the soil the food was grown in.

Packaging: If the food has been packaged and stored in aluminum packaging.

Additives: Whether the food has had certain additives added during processing.

Aluminum is also ingested through medications that have a high aluminum content, like antacids.

Regardless, the aluminum content of food and medication isn’t considered to be a problem, as only a tiny amount of the aluminum you ingest is actually absorbed.

The rest is passed in your feces. Furthermore, in healthy people, absorbed aluminum is later excreted in your urine (5, 6).

Generally, the small amount of aluminum you ingest daily is considered safe (2, 7, 8).

Summary: Aluminum is ingested through food, water and medication. However, most of the aluminum you ingest is passed in feces and urine and is not considered harmful.

Cooking With Aluminum Foil May Increase the Aluminum Content of Foods

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July 2017
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