Types of Plastic & Their Health Effects

I have to say, I’m not a fan of plastic. There are just too many health issues associated with it.  I’ve replaced a lot of plastic in my kitchen/home with glass. It’s taken time to do this but I figure that each container I replace reduces the amount of chemicals we’re exposed to. While avoiding plastic altogether is the safest bet, sometimes that can be hard to do. Here is a guide to the various types of plastic that will help you choose the safer options when there is no other option:

#1 (PET or PETE) This is a very common plastic, most commonly used with bottled water. This type of plastic is intended to be used only ONCE and then recycled. This type has caused developmental delays in unborn babies and young children born to workers exposed to the chemical.
My advice is stay avoid water bottles whenever possible and never reuse them. There is more to the whole bottled water issue than just the health of the plastic it’s packaged in. Most bottles aren’t being recycled and the water that’s in them usually isn’t any better than tap water anyway.

#2 (HDPE) Research is still being carried out regarding this plastic but so far it appears to be the safest option available.

#3 (Vinyl or PVC) A component of PVC called phthalates causes many of the problems associated with this plastic. Potential health effects include: endocrine disruption (mimics estrogen), asthma, allergic symptoms, decrease in sperm count, DNA damage in sperm, & brain cancer. Phthalates can be found in such products as toys, wallpaper, cosmetics and anything made of vinyl. The European Union, Fiji, Argentina & Mexico have already banned phthalates from being used in plastic toys for young children (Interesting that the U.S. still hasn’t banned it. Europe usually seems to be ahead of us health-wise).

#4 (LDPE) Research ongoing. Appears to be a somewhat safe option. The downside is this type may not always be accepted in recycling programs.

#5 (PP) Research ongoing. The second-best plastic option.

#6 (PS) (One form is “styrofoam") Possible health effects: Endocrine disruption that can cause serious reproductive & developmental problems. Hot, oily foods are especially bad in this plastic as they cause the container to leach the chemical, styrene. This type should especially be avoided by pregnant women.

#7 (Other) This plastic often contains Bisphenol A (BPA), the chemical that many are trying to avoid in plastic baby bottles. BPA can be found in “dental sealants, eyeglass lenses, toys, consumer electronics, CDs, DVDs, medical equipment, cans, and reusable water bottles” (Source 2). BPA is also used as the lining in metal food cans (Grrr. That one makes me mad!). Possible health effects include: reproductive system damage/cancer, low sperm count and early puberty.

Summary:
Choose glass whenever possible!
Best plastics: #2, #4, #5
Worst plastics: #3, #6, #7

Here’s a handy guide to the plastic codes that I keep in my purse: Plastic Code Quick Guide

Sources:
Life Without Plastic: Plastic Types chart
Environmental Working Group: Are Plastics Safe?

Green Smoothies

image Green smoothies are all the rage right now. I recently made my first one and was immediately hooked! The “green” part comes from anything green (like raw kale, spinach, parsley or other greens). Then you add an assortment of fruit and blend it all together in a blender. This is a great way to get the incredible benefits of raw greens in a tasty way. Now I have a use for all that kale we’ve been getting from the farm!

The beauty of green smoothies is that you can make them with just about anything! Experiment with different combinations of fruit/greens. Just to give you an example, here’s the recipe I’ve been using (this is just what I had on hand):

Raw, de-veined Kale
Pineapple juice
1 Peach
2 Bananas
1 c. blueberries (made the smoothie not quite as bright green but still tasty!)

Mmmmmm Blueberries!

image Blueberry season has begun here in Michigan! This past week we went blueberry picking at the local U-pick place a few miles from home. Blueberries are my favorite fruit and here’s why:

1. They are one of the lesser sprayed fruits (low on the pesticide list).
2. They’re relatively inexpensive here ($1/pound this year for U-pick)
3. They are easy to pick and there are no stems, pits or peels to remove.
4. To stock up on them for the rest of the year you can just rinse them, throw them into a freezer ziplock bag and freeze them! They break apart easily even when frozen.
5. They are extremely high in antioxidants.
6. They’re so versatile! Throw them in granola, oatmeal, a smoothie, yogurt, a pie, cover pound cake with them or just eat them plain.
7. They’re delicious! 

France

imageI have a confession to make.
I have an unexplainable passion for France, particularly Paris! Maybe it’s the romance associated with that place. I mean, who wouldn’t love to kiss beneath the Eiffel tower? Maybe it’s their beautiful language. Maybe it’s the gorgeous countryside. Maybe it’s their love and appreciation for food.

I think....

it’s all of the above!

There is an excellent, excellent article on the French way of eating posted at “Almost Fit” that I highly recommend you check out! The French eat in a way that most Americans would consider unhealthy and yet enjoy much better health than those in the U.S. The French are proof that real food is best for our health and for our enjoyment! Here’s the article: ”Food, Drink, and Decadence: How the French Stay Thin

Someday I just know I’ll get to visit France. When I do, I’ll buy fresh baked bread from the boulangerie each day and sit along a river with brush in hand pretending that I can paint! :)

Buying Seafood

Seafood, if not polluted by mercury and if harvested in an eco-friendly way, makes an excellent addition to a healthy diet. According to Ideal Bite there will no more seafood left in our oceans by 2048 if we continue to harvest seafood the way we do. Current methods of harvesting are unsustainable and need to be changed. We can do our part by buying only fish harvested using sustainable fishing practices.

Environmental Defense offers a pocket guide to selecting seafood (Pocket Seafood Selector) that I’ve found quite helpful. It’s nice and small so it’s easy to keep in your purse or wallet for reference when you’re at the grocery store or a restaurant.

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