The Harmful Chemical That Might Be In Your Canned Food

Fans of canned fish, beans, and legumes may be surprised to learn that 10 percent of all canned food contains a harmful chemical. The chemical is called bisphenol A, also known as BPA (via Insider). According to National Geographic, it's an endocrine-disrupting compound, meaning it can act like a hormone and can have a negative effect on our bodies. "What's kind of disturbing about this is hormones regulate almost everything in our bodies," Johanna Rochester, a senior scientist with the nonprofit The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, explained. In other words, you should try your best to avoid it at all costs.

While most of us assume that you need to be exposed to a high amount of toxic chemicals to be affected, it's simply not the case for BPA. As Samantha Radford, an exposure scientist and researcher at Saint Francis University explained to Insider, "Endocrine disruptors (like BPA) can actually be more toxic at low levels because of the way that they interact with receptors in the body. Therefore, even extremely low concentrations of BPA can be dangerous."

To avoid BPA, you should try to avoid buying canned goods

So, how do you know if your can of green beans or fruit contains BPA? According to Eco-Watch, you need to look out for BPA-free packaging. However, it's also worth noting that there are no government regulations regarding labeling, and even those cans that claim to BPA-free may carry traces, so the best way to really avoid it is to stop buying canned goods altogether — especially canned tomatoes. "If you're only going to worry about BPA with one thing, focus on tomatoes," Sara O'Leary, a healthy eating specialist and a registered dietitian at Whole Foods Market, advised Oregon Live. "Due to their high acidity, they encourage the leaching of BPA into the food." 

While it may take some getting used to (and ultimately may cost you more), buying fresh food is easy — you can buy some items, like tomato sauces, in glass containers, too. If you want to buy in bulk, do so, then keep them in your freezer for when you next need it. You'll most likely not only notice it's BPA-free but is generally much more flavorful, too.