When you want to cook up a delicious meal and take care of your air at the same time, add these grocery staples to your shopping list.
Whether cooking is your favorite activity or just another chore, the ingredients and tools you use in the kitchen can make a difference in your indoor air quality. But, similar to how you can choose cleaning products that mitigate fumes, you can tweak your grocery shopping list to include items that help you keep your indoor air cleaner.
You might not think it, but preparing your family’s favorite meal can release fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. Short-term exposure to VOCs released after cooking can lead to headaches, nausea or worsening of symptoms for people with asthma.1 Some items release more VOCs than others, so consider adding these lower-risk items to your grocery shopping list next time you go out for groceries.
If you do a lot of pan-frying, choosing an oil with a high smoke point is especially important. The “smoke point” of an oil refers to the moment it stops shimmering in the pan and starts smoking—which is also when it can release VOCs into your indoor air. Consider switching to grapeseed or canola oils instead of olive and coconut oils, which have lower smoke points.
Your favorite low-fat microwave popcorn might be delicious, but it can release small amounts of VOCs into your indoor air.2 Because it cooks at a high temperature in the microwave, the small amount of oil in the bag can smoke, just like it would on your stovetop. Popcorn kernels that you make on the stove give you more control over the oil used and the temperature at which it’s cooked.
You might know people who are cutting down on red meat for environmental reasons or health concerns, but these foods can also be a cause for indoor air quality concerns. One study found that red meats and turkey release more VOCs when grilled than chicken.3 So, if you’re doing a lot of grilling out, consider swapping out those burgers.
Next time you pick up bacon from the grocery store, choose an option that’s free of nitrates. When bacon is cooked to a high temperature, nitrates used to preserve the meat can react with fat and release VOCs into the indoor air.4