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Study reveals why you should think twice before microwaving your holiday leftovers — here's what you can do instead

They can affect the functions of cells and their microstructures.

They can affect the functions of cells and their microstructures.

Photo Credit: iStock

We're in the thick of the holiday season, which can only mean one thing: leftovers galore. 

With all the extra turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing needing to be stored, it might be tempting to use your stash of reusable plastic containers collected from takeout restaurants. 

However, it is worth considering the potential adverse health effects of keeping food in plastic containers — especially if you plan to stick them in the microwave.

According to the Environmental Working Group, "[plastic] containers are made with chemical additives, and a lack of transparency in their composition raises doubts about their long-term safety." 

One study published in PubMed Central showed that heating plastic containers accelerates the leaching of microplastics into our food.

While microplastics are, by definition, smaller than five millimeters, do not let their minuscule size fool you. 

Researchers have discovered the material everywhere in the human body — in organs like the heart, kidney, and liver, and in samples of feces, urine, and blood. 

The full extent of the harm microplastics can cause is unknown, but it has been linked to kidney damage and altered gut and oral microbiota.

The toxicity of microplastics can even be traced to a microscopic level, as they can affect the functions of cells and their microstructures. 

Furthermore, some plastic containers are composed of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, aka PFAS, which have been associated with higher rates of some cancers. Others might contain Bisphenol A, or BPA, which can lead to a variety of health issues, such as congenital disabilities, infertility, and ADHD.

So this year, ditch the plastic takeout containers and instead consider using containers made of stainless steel, ceramic, or glass (or just the latter two if you plan to put it in the microwave).

Keeping a stock of glass mason jars or rectangular containers is just about as handy as plastic, but all three options are better alternatives to store your leftovers from this Christmas, New Year's, and every holiday to come — all while being safer for you and the environment. 

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