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      Fresh may be best when it comes to healthy eating

      A groundbreaking study, published today in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health, shows that American's number one source of BPA exposure comes from food packaging.

      The Massachusetts-based non-profit group Silent Spring Institute did the study along with the Breast Cancer Fund. Scientists followed five families for 3 days testing their urine before, during and after the study for BPA and phthalates. Scientists replaced the families' food with fresh organic produce and unpackaged foods. Within three days, the study's authors say BPA levels dropped as much as 60 percent{}in the individuals. Phthalate levels dropped more than 50 percent.

      Phthalates, like DEHP, are found in soft plastics and, scientists say, block testosterone production. DEHP was recently listed as one of the top six banned chemicals in the European Union. BPA, or Bisphenol A, is what's referred to as an endocrine disruptor. Doctors say these chemicals, that disrupt delicate hormone systems, are believed to play a role in breast and prostate cancer, infertility, diabetes, ADHA and obesity.

      The American Chemistry Council represents plastics manufacturers and says BPA levels are safe. The FDA has expressed some concerns about the chemicals and says it supports the use of alternative packaging. The U.S. government is spending $30 million dollars to research the safety of BPA.

      The Silent Spring Institute says while it's ultimately up to industry and the government to force major packaging changes, there are things you can do to lower the amount of BPA and phthalates to which you and your family are exposed. The institute recommends the following:

      Fresh is best

      BPA and phthalates can migrate from the linings of cans and plastic packaging into food and drinks. While it's not practical to avoid food packaging altogether, opt for fresh or frozen instead of canned food as much as possible.

      Eat in

      Studies have shown that people who eat more meals prepared outside the home have higher levels of BPA. To reduce your exposure, consider cooking more meals at home with fresh ingredients. When you do eat out, choose restaurants that use fresh ingredients.

      Store it safe

      Food and drinks stored in plastic can collect chemicals from the containers, especially if the foods are fatty or acidic. Next time, try storing your leftovers in glass or stainless steel instead of plastic.

      Don't microwave in plastic

      Warmer temperatures increase the rate of chemicals leaching into food and drinks. So use heat resistant glass or ceramic containers when you microwave, or heat your food on the stove. The label "microwave safe" means safety for the container, not your health.

      Brew the old-fashioned way

      Automatic coffee makers may have BPA and phthalates in their plastic containers and tubing. When you brew your coffee, consider using a French press to get your buzz without the BPA.

      For more information on the study: http://www.silentspring.org