This Everyday Cooking Shortcut Is Hurting You in the Long Run

leftovers in plastic containers in fridgePlastics are like the gift that keep on giving. So convenient! So cheap! So everywhere! And so kinda sorta (really) bad for our health. Turns out, even "microwave-safe" plastic poses a health risk.


The latest proof? A new study published in the journal Hypertension (talk about spoilers!) links food microwaved in plastic containers to hypertension down the road. Somehow, that leftover egg-drop soup eaten right out of the container doesn't taste so good anymore.

Chemical compounds known as di-isononyl phthalate (which should REALLY be a word in the next Scripps spelling bee) and di-isodecyl phthalate were supposed to be healthier, safer replacements of even WORSE plastics.

But according to the study, DINP and DIDP were found in urine samples of kids between the ages of 6–19 who also had high blood pressure. The chemicals have also been linked to increased insulin levels that can lead to diabetes.

More from The Stir: Is Microwaving Food Good or Bad?

As damning as that sounds, "it's not cause for alarm yet," says Torey Armul, a registered dietitian in Chicago and a national spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. "This research is very preliminary and hasn't yet found cause and effect."

Still, it's always good to be cautious and err on the side of natural reheating techniques, Armul says.

The study's lead researcher recommends not using plastic containers OR plastic wrap in the microwave. But don't worry. You don't have to eat your leftover pad Thai cold. (Although it is good that way.)

Armul's best practices: Take any food out of any plastic container, place on a bowl or dish, and cover with a paper towel before microwaving. Or add a little liquid to your leftovers and reheat on the stove.

A bonus to going old-school: "Doing so maintains more nutrients and offers more uniform heating," Armul says.

You don't need to throw out your entire kitchen drawer of plastics if you really don't want to, by the way. But it IS a good idea to never put plastics in the dishwasher, since the high heat can leach out the chemicals. (Same with plastics left in a hot car.)

And definitely stay away from using plastics labeled 3, 6, and 7, since those are most suspect.


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