When it comes to comfort food, mac & cheese pretty much tops the list. The gloriously gooey dish brightens up even the worst of days, and sometimes may be better than a well-meaning hug.
But unless you have the time to make it from scratch (who does though?) you get it in a pre-mix, which although is all sorts of awesome, contains potentially harmful chemicals.
Recently, researchers from an independent lab found that all but one of 30 cheese products tested contain phthalates, man-made substances that have been shown to affect human hormones. How? They mess up testosterone and have been linked to genital birth defects in infant boys. They’ve also been associated with behaviorial problems and learning disabilities in children.
The highest concentration of phthalates was found in the highly processed powdered mixes of mac and cheese. And suffice it to say, people have been freaking out.
But here’s the thing: phthalates are also found in hundreds of products, including personal care stuff such as nail polish, hair sprays, aftershave lotions, soaps, shampoos and perfumes.
And as a Slate article will tell you, although there are harmful chemicals in your fave comfort food, what matters most is the dosage–if the amount is high enough to harm you.
So is it? There’s no clear conclusion at this point. But if you’re pregnant, you should probably try to stave off the habit.
If you’re wondering, companies don’t actually add phthalates to your mac & cheese. They’re infused into the packaging to preserve the food, but over time make their way to the cheese powder.
And if you really want to limit your consumption of phthalates, it isn’t just mac & cheese you should be worried about. For one, you should stop microwaving your food in plastic containers, or having your coffee in from a plastic mug.
Will you still have your mac & cheese and eat it?