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Claire Moshenberg's picture

Over 90% of Americans have detectable levels of bisphenol-A in their bodies, which makes BPA one of the most pervasive toxic chemicals in our modern lives. Scary stuff, considering that studies link BPA exposure to breast cancer, infertility, early onset puberty, ADHD, and obesity.

You can reduce your BPA level, and a good place to start is by taking a look at what you eat. If you eat in restaurants, as many of us do, you should know that restaurants often use canned ingredients, and those cans are likely to contain BPA.

There are a few easy ways to order food with less BPA. The two most important rules are:

  • Talk to your server: Always ask (nicely) if your order contains canned ingredients.
  • If an ingredient on the menu is usually canned (think beans or tuna), assume that it's canned.

Not sure what ingredients to look out for? We've got you covered. Here's a breakdown of how to reduce BPA in your restaurant salads, sandwiches, pizzas, pastas, and burritos:

Salads: Watch out for snazzy, and often canned, salad toppings such as chickpeas, beans, black olives, baby corn, water chestnuts, and artichoke hearts. Substitute canned ingredients with fresh ones. Add extra veggies, nuts, seeds, whatever can help jazz up your salad without boosting your BPA.

Sandwiches: Beware of canned meat and fish, two of the top ten canned foods to avoid according to the Breast Cancer Fund. Tuna salad and chicken salad are often made with canned meat, which means the bulk of your sandwich contains BPA. The same rule for salads applies to sandwiches: Skip commonly-canned sandwich toppings like sliced black olives, artichoke hearts, or roasted red peppers.

Pizza and Pasta: Canned tomatoes absorb alarming amounts of BPA because of their acidity. If you're ordering anything with a tomato based sauce, find out if canned tomatoes or tomato paste are used in the sauce. Choose a non-tomato based sauce when possible, or make a special order and replace tomato sauce on pizza with fresh tomato slices.

Burritos: Find out how the beans are cooked and skip them if they come out of a can. The same goes for refried beans. Ask your server if canned tomatoes or peppers are used in the salsa.

Eat what you want: Really. When you're at home, eat steaming bowls of spaghetti with marinara sauce, enjoy refried beans and salsa, and go crazy with the salad toppings. Preparing food at home is not only less expensive, but it also gives you total control over the ingredients that go into your favorite dishes. A recent study by the Breast Cancer Fund and the Silent Spring Institute listed eating out less as one of their top tips to avoid BPA. The study gave five families a fresh foods intervention: no eating in restaurants, no take out, just three days of meals at home, made out of fresh ingredients and stored in glass containers. When the families took BPA out of their diets, they decreased the amount of BPA in their bodies by 60 percent on average in just three days!

Additional Resources:

How to Avoid the Sneakiest Sources of BPA, from Jennifer Grayson at Healthy Child, Healthy World:

Consumer Tips to Avoid BPA Exposure, from the Environmental Working Group:

Do you have tips for avoiding BPA?  Leave them in the comments, or visit our Facebook page and share them with the MomsRising community.


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