When I think of aluminum foil, I think of my gray cat Lucy. That may sound strange, but I'll explain. My sons and I found her abandoned in our backyard, just before a hurricane in the summer of 2004. Merely 10 days old, we nursed her back to health. And since then, she’s turned into a chubby and happy kitty, who loves to play with crushed aluminum foil balls.
But aluminum foil may not be all ‘fun and games'. A recent study has shown that heat causes aluminum from the foil to leach out into foods in significantly harmful amounts.1
Aluminum Accumulates in the Bones and in the Brain
The researchers found dangerously high levels of aluminum in foods after being cooked, reheated, and even cooled on aluminum foil. The cause for alarm is that when aluminum accumulates in the body, it can lead to osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.
What’s more, Dr. Zubaidy, one of the study authors, comments that:
“The higher the temperature, the more the leaching. Foil is not suitable for cooking and is not suitable for using with vegetables like tomatoes, citrus juice or spices.”2
On the other hand, the researchers also noted that foil can be considered safe to wrap cold foods, since no leaching was observed without heating. They also did not find a difference if the shiny or dull side were in contact with food.
Aluminum Competes With Calcium, Weakening Bones
High aluminum levels in the body alter bone mineralization, matrix formation, as well as parathyroid and bone cell activity.3 Ironically, one of the most common signs of excessive aluminum accumulation is hypercalcemia or high calcium levels in the blood.
This happens because the presence of aluminum impedes calcium deposition in bone, thus leading to elevated blood calcium levels.3 As a result, PTH secretion, the hormone secreted by the parathyroid hormone, is greatly depressed.3 Additionally, chronic aluminum toxicity greatly reduces osteoblast population and inhibits bone mineralization, resulting in osteoporosis.3
Mounting Evidence Links Aluminum to Alzheimer’s
While the study is less adamant about the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s than it is about the osteoporosis connection, it does point to evidence that aluminum is deposited in brain tissue. The researchers note that previous studies have found an aluminum build-up in autopsies performed on Alzheimer’s sufferers.
Protect Your Bones and Your Brain
In view of this, you really should avoid using aluminum foil or aluminum utensils for cooking. So here are a few simple steps you can take right away:
- Never cook, heat up, or place hot food on aluminum foil. Use foil only to store cold food in the refrigerator, or to wrap cold sandwiches. I use tempered glass pans. They are easily available in just about every supermarket or hardware store.
- Avoid storing tomatoes, citrus fruits, or spices in foil.
- Replace foil with wax paper if you wish to store food while still hot. Or use glass food storage containers. I keep a variety of sizes handy in my kitchen.
- Never use aluminum pots or cooking utensils. Instead, invest in stainless steel pots and pans.
As you can see, it’s easy to avoid aluminum in the kitchen.
To your aluminum-free life!
1 Mohammad FS et al. “Effect of Aluminum Leaching Process of Cooking Wares on Food”. Int. J. Electrochem. Sci., 6(2011) 222-230.
3 Cannata Andia JB. “Aluminum toxicity: its relationship with bone and iron metabolism.” Nephrol Dial Transplant (1996) II (Suppl 3): 69-73