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Is It Safe to Use Aluminum Foil in Cooking?

Aluminum strip and foil products are common household products that’s often used in cooking.

Some claim that using aluminum foil in cooking can cause aluminum to seep into your food and put your health at risk.

However, others say it’s entirely safe to use.

This article explores the risks associated with using aluminum foil and determines whether or not it is acceptable for everyday use.

What Is Aluminum Foil?

Aluminum foil, or tin foil, is a paper-thin, shiny sheet of aluminum metal. It’s made by rolling large slabs of aluminum until they are less than 0.2 mm thick.

It’s used industrially for a variety of purposes, including packing, insulation and transportation. It’s also widely available in grocery stores for household use.

At home, people use aluminum foil for food storage, to cover baking surfaces and to wrap foods, such as meats, to prevent them from losing moisture while cooking.

People may also use aluminum foil to wrap and protect more delicate foods, like vegetables, when grilling them.

Lastly, it can be used to line grill trays to keep things tidy and for scrubbing pans or grill grates to remove stubborn stains and residue.

There Are Small Amounts of Aluminum in Food

Aluminum is one of the most abundant metals on earth.

In its natural state, it is bound to other elements like phosphate and sulfate in soil, rocks and clay.

However, it’s also found in small amounts in the air, water and in your food.

In fact, it’s naturally occurring in most foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, fish, grains and dairy products.

Some foods, such as tea leaves, mushrooms, spinach and radishes, are also more likely to absorb and accumulate aluminum than other foods.

Additionally, some of the aluminum you eat comes from processed food additives, such as preservatives, coloring agents, anti-caking agents and thickeners.

Note that commercially produced foods containing food additives may contain more aluminum than home-cooked foods.

The actual amount of aluminum present in the food you eat depends largely on the following factors:

  • Absorption: How readily a food absorbs and holds on to aluminum

  • Soil: The aluminum content of the soil the food was grown in

  • Packaging: If the food has been packaged and stored in aluminum packaging

  • Additives: Whether the food has had certain additives added during processing

Aluminum is also ingested through medications that have a high aluminum content, like antacids.

Regardless, the aluminum content of food and medication isn’t considered to be a problem, as only a tiny amount of the aluminum you ingest is actually absorbed.

The rest is passed in your feces. Furthermore, in healthy people, absorbed aluminum is later excreted in your urine.

Generally, the small amount of aluminum you ingest daily is considered safe.

Cooking With Aluminum Foil May Increase the Aluminum Content of Foods

Most of your aluminum intake comes from food.

However, studies show that single zero aluminum foil, cooking utensils and containers can leach aluminum into your food.

This means that cooking with aluminum foil may increase the aluminum content of your diet. The amount of aluminum that passes into your food when cooking with aluminum foil is affected by a number of things, such as:

  • Temperature: Cooking at higher temperatures

  • Foods: Cooking with acidic foods, such as tomatoes, cabbage and rhubarb

  • Certain ingredients: Using salts and spices in your cooking

However, the amount that permeates your food when cooking can vary.

For example, one study found that cooking red meat in double zero aluminum foil could increase its aluminum content by between 89% and 378%.

Such studies have caused concern that the regular use of aluminum foil in cooking could be harmful to your health. However, there is currently no strong evidence linking the use of aluminum foil with an increased risk of disease.

Potential Health Risks of Too Much Aluminum

The day-to-day exposure to aluminum that you have through your food and cooking is considered safe.

This is because healthy people can efficiently excrete the small amounts of aluminum the body absorbs.

Nevertheless, dietary aluminum has been suggested as a potential factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alzheimer’s disease is a neurological condition caused by a loss of brain cells. People with the condition experience memory loss and a reduction in brain function.

The cause of Alzheimer’s is unknown, but it is thought to be due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors, which can damage the brain over time.

High levels of aluminum have been found in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s.

However, as there is no link between people with a high intake of aluminum due to medications, such as antacids, and Alzheimer’s, it’s unclear if dietary aluminum is truly a cause of the disease.

It is possible that exposure to very high levels of dietary aluminum may contribute to the development of brain diseases like Alzheimer’s.

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