Holistic Nutrition & Prevention

Health savvy: ways to avoid toxic BPA in canned foods

By Sari Huhtala

When I first started publishing Alive and Fit in 2007 I had an interesting conversation with a naturopath. She was treating a three-year-old who had started her menstrual cycle. The cause? Xenoestrogens, estrogen mimickers, from bisphenol A (BPA) found in plastics and in the lining of canned goods.

While the naturopath was able to help reverse the start of menses in the preschooler by eliminating all of her BPA exposure – the mother had been heating plastic baby bottles in a microwave since the child’s birth – our daily exposure to BPA still sounds an alarm due to its link to cancer, hyperactivity in children, infertility, diabetes and other chronic health issues.

BPA is an industrial chemical used in the production of some plastics and epoxy resins.

“BPA has been the focus of widespread concern due to the fact that it interferes with endocrine signaling pathways even at extremely low doses,” according to research in a 2015 study in the journal Medicine (Baltimore).

BPA can leach into food and beverages through canned foods, reusable plastic water bottles and plastic food containers. Researchers found BPA was detected in 95 per cent of urine samples in study participants.

View the study here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4602822/

Environmental Defence published a comprehensive report on BPA, analyzing chemical levels in canned goods in Canada and the U.S., and has concluded the level of exposure to BPA through canned goods poses a very real health risk. See the complete report here:


Canned milks, like canned coconut milk, evaporated milk, etc. have among the highest levels of BPA – not the news you want to hear when your favourite comfort food is homemade chia seed chocolate pudding made with creamy canned coconut milk.

So, instead of just canning all the foods that are potentially high in leached BPA, consider alternatives.

Here are a few easy ways to lessen the body burden of BPA from cans:

  1. Switch from canned coconut milk to coconut milk in a carton. If a creamier coconut texture is desired, look for ‘pure creamed coconut’ packaged in a box (Grace is one brand that offers boxed creamed coconut that is 100 per cent pure coconut without additives).
  2. Instead of canned tomatoes choose fresh tomatoes or jar your own and freeze. No time for canning your own? No worries. The easiest way to preserve fresh tomatoes is by freezing them. To remove skins, simply place fresh tomatoes into a pot of water and heat to boiling point then remove from pot and peel skin off tomatoes. Place into clean mason jars (leave at least one quarter of the jar empty to allow for expansion when freezing). Then seal with a lid and freeze.
  3. Freeze your own fresh veggies instead of buying canned veggies.
  4. Soak and cook dried beans and legumes – chickpeas, kidney beans, navy beans, black beans, etc. – instead of buying canned beans. It’s easy. Soak beans in a large bowl of water for at least 12 hours. Drain and rinse the beans. Fill a large pot with water, add the pre-soaked beans then heat to boil and boil-simmer until the beans are fully cooked (soft). This may take a couple of hours depending on how long the beans were pre-soaked. Then freeze for later use.
  5. Buy food items like maple syrup in glass bottles vs cans.
  6. Buy strained crushed tomatoes in a bottle (like Aurora brand) when making tomato-based meals.
  7. Store leftovers in glass containers.
  8. Avoid canned gravy and broth.
  9. And the obvious, make homemade meals like chili and stew, instead of buying premade canned meals.

Sari Huhtala is the publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine. She is a mother of 3 adult children. She has spent over 20 years navigating a healthy path for her family, one health hack at a time, as a single mom feeding her kids healthy on a shoestring budget. She has over 15 years experience as a certified fitness specialist and personal trainer, 10 years experience as a reiki practitioner, as well as and over 25 years experience in journalism.

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