Home-cooked meals linked to fewer harmful chemicals in the body, study says

There's nothing like a home-cooked meal. Not only are they comforting, but they're also healthier than take-out food, according to a new report.

Researchers from the Silent Spring Institute recently conducted a study, published in the Environmental Health Perspectives, to explore the association between restaurant food and per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.

PFAS are a class of chemicals used in nonstick, stain-resistant and waterproof products, such as cookware and food packaging. The chemicals have been linked to an array of health issues like cancer, thyroid disease, low birth rate and decreased fertility.

For the assessment, the team examined more than 10,000 people from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which tracks health and nutritional trends in the United States. The participants answered questions about their diet and provided blood samples, which were evaluated for PFAS.

After analyzing the results, the team found those who ate meals at home had significantly lower levels of PFAS in their bodies, while those who ate more fast food and at restaurants had higher levels of it.

"This is the first study to observe a link between different sources of food and PFAS exposures in the U.S. population," co-author Laurel Schaider said in a statement. "Our results suggest migration of PFAS chemicals from food packaging into food can be an important source of exposure to these chemicals."

This isn't the first study that has assessed the downside of dining out and fast food.

In 2018, researchers from George Washington University and the University of California Berkeley at San Francisco said those who regularly ate at restaurants, cafeterias and fast food places had more harmful chemicals in their bodies, compared to those who ate at home.

The Silent Spring analysts said, "The general conclusion here is the less contact your food has with food packaging, the lower your exposures to PFAS and other harmful chemicals."

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