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Phthalates: Another Reason To Forget The Fast Food And Cook At Home

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Dining out regularly has been linked to increased intake of sugar, fat, sodium, as well as higher rates of obesity. However, a new study gives us yet another reason to cook our food at home: phthalates.

A recent study from the journal of Environment International compared the U.S. population’s phthalate exposure between eating food at home and eating food at restaurants and cafeterias. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and harder to break. These potentially harmful chemicals are found in hundreds of consumer products including adhesives, automotive products, shampoos, and nail polish. Phthalates are also used in the plastic packaging of food products.

Human exposure to phthalates is ongoing with studies by the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences; however, a National Toxicology Program study concluded that phthalates may have adverse effects on human reproduction and development and phthalate Di (2-ethylhexyl) is reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.

This most recent study by Environment International found that the phthalate levels of participants who ate food outside of the home within the prior 24 hours were 35% higher than those who reported eating food purchased from a grocery store. In particular, sandwiches, such as hamburgers, purchased away from home were associated with higher phthalate levels.

The researchers found that two-thirds of participants reported eating food outside the home at least once daily. The presence of phthalates in urine was consistent among of participants, however, it was strongest among adolescents who showed phthalate levels 55% higher than adolescents who ate at home.

The most logical reason for this link between higher phthalate levels and eating food from restaurants and cafeterias is likely due to food being prepared at off-site locations and then shipped in plastic packaging containing phthlates.

The good news is that phthalates only remain in the body for about one day. This means that consuming more home-cooked meals could have improved health benefits rather quickly. In addition, cooking more meals at home helps you to control food preparation as restaurants often use butter, sugar, salt, and unhealthy oils to enhance the flavor of their food.

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