Cooking Food in Aluminum Foil, More Harmful than You Imagined
Aluminum foil usage in modern households is a commonplace whether it is to package and store food products or cooking and baking in the kitchen. The use of aluminum foil in the kitchen is prevalent worldwide but new research suggests that there could be some dangerous health consequences associated with the harmful effects of aluminum usage in cooking.
Aluminum Foil Applications
Aluminum foil is a paper-thin sheet containing more than 92 percent of aluminum metal that is made by rolling aluminum into slabs until the thickness of the metal is reduced to less than 0.2mm, resulting in sheets that are then cut and rolled onto a cardboard for household and industrial use.
The uses of aluminum range from insulation, decorations, air ducts, containers and packaging and its diverse usability makes for a very popular household and industrial product. Aluminum is a great choice for these applications because it is relatively inexpensive, cheap to produce, shiny, lightweight, dustproof, non-toxic and easily malleable which helps to seal and package.
How It’s Manufactured
The manufacturing process of aluminum starts with the extraction of pure aluminum from its ores by removing impurities like iron oxide, silica, Titania, and water. The aluminum oxide that is extracted is then smelted by dissolving it in a smelting cell which is a deep steel mold whose walls are made of carbon and contains a heated liquid which acts like a metal conductor.
The process is not dissimilar to the electrolysis process used in the early 20th century to produce aluminum and the resulting metal is put in a rolling which flatten the metal into thin sheets by pressing it between rollers multiple times. The aluminum foil then trimmed according to required size. Finally, the aluminum sheets are coated with various metals for various applications that can suit their specific purpose like decoration, protection or insulation.
Aluminum Foil in the Kitchen
Even though the use of aluminum foil has been prevalent in the kitchen for decades, scientists are becoming increasingly concerned by the dangers posed by this application, especially because the use of aluminum in cooking has increased drastically in the last decade and people are using tons of aluminum in their bakeries and kitchens lately which have set the alarm bells ringing. The primary concern associated with the application is the ability of aluminum to be absorbed into the food when heated or cooked which poses potential health problems.
Even though our bodies do require and absorb aluminum as a nutrient present in food, the process of cooking food in aluminum can raise the aluminum content in our diets over the required limit. For example, cooking red meat in aluminum can increase its aluminum content from 90% to 378%!
Imagine the amount of aluminum that could be making its way into your body just through absorption during cooking. The amount of aluminum that is absorbed into the food depends on the temperature, acidity and the contents of the food. Cooking foods that are acidic like tomatoes and cabbage leach more and higher temperatures can make the aluminum content even higher.
Aluminum in our Food and Body
The human body is able to effectively breakdown aluminum as a mineral to fulfill its requirements but a high amount of aluminum entering the body can pose problems; the human body requires 40mg of aluminum per kilogram of body weight for a typical person, which means that a person who weighs 70kg would require 2.8g of aluminum per day.
Most of the food exposed to cooking foils at high temperature can retain large amounts of aluminum which can be harmful for the body. Researchers have found that patients suffering from Alzheimer’s have extremely high levels of aluminum in their brain tissues, which may have boosted memory loss and cognitive decay. Aluminum also poses other health hazards including bone diseases and renal impairment.
With these factors in mind, it is important that companies manufacturing and producing different types of aluminum foil for household use ensure that the quality and thickness of the metal is safe enough to be used for cooking purposes whilst also adhering to permissible limits set by the World Health Organization.
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