The Study

Sourcing the Menu: Background on Lipophilia – Prime Contamination Problem for Cooking and Food Processing

NOTE: This is an edited version of portions of Appendices 3 of the “Revised Stealth Syndromes Study Protocol as approved by the University of California San Francisco Medical School Committee on Human Research.

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Lipophilia: for the love of fat

In the scientific world, fats and oils are known as lipids. Lipophilia means a “love of lipids.” Fats tend to be solid (or relatively so) at room temperature and oils, liquid.

Significantly, BPA, phthalates and many other harmful environmental chemicals are “lipophilic” — they are easily dissolved in fats and oils.

This should not be surprising because most environmental chemicals — including endocrine disruptors and pesticides — are derived from petroleum. The same goes for artificial fragrances, flavor enhancers and food coloring as well as plastics in general, and the printing inks used on them.

What this means is that contact between plastic and any form of food-based oil or fat results in increased migration of BPA, phthalates and other from the plastic and into the edible portions of the food.

While there is no valid science yet, there is a logical possibility that the health stigma of fat in the diet and its role in obesity may be due more to the presence of harmful environmental chemicals in the fat, rather than its metabolism and actual calorie count.

Scores of well-designed, peer-reviewed, published studies have shown that BPA and phthalates act as “obesogens” — substances that disrupt the metabolic process and result in the preferential storage of fat rather than its use as energy.

Why does lipophilia matter?

The opposite of lipophilic is hydrophobic — the fear of water. This means that harmful environmental chemicals are somewhat less likely to leach into foods and beverages that are water based.

Despite that, BPA (hydrophobic) still leaches into the water of plastic bottles.

The migration of BPA, phthalates and other lipophilic chemicals is preferentially accelerated when placed in contact with lipids — fats and oils — whether from foods like bacon or cooking oils.

This means that even very heart-healthy foods like olive oil packed in plastic bottles will contain higher concentrations of BPA and phthalates than those in glass bottles.

Impacts cooking and processing

Lipophilia impacts both cooking and processing.

In cooking, the BPA and phthalates in plastic mixing bowls, utensils and other items can migration into the foods themselves.

Heat will further encourage migration of chemicals from plastics. This includes microwaving food in plastic, allowing warm or hot foods to come into contact with plastic bowls, dishes or cooking with plastic utensils.