The Importance of Safe Cookware
Our health and well-being are greatly influenced by the quality of the food we eat, cooking techniques and the tools we are using to make our dishes. We often hear about Importance of eating organically grown food, free of pesticides and other harmful chemicals. The nutritional value of food can be easily ruined if we use cookware that leaches harmful chemicals and heavy metals into it. Safe cookware is a vital part of healthy cooking and is highly important in keeping you and your family healthy.
Hidden Dangers in Cookware
A significant number of recent scientific studies have revealed the presence of harmful chemicals and heavy metals in aluminum and nonstick cookware products. Cooking food in reactive cookware can add dangerous toxins to your food. New research suggests that certain harmful chemicals in cookware may contribute to a range of health problems. Some types of cookware can be dangerous to your health if used regularly. These chemicals also may pollute the environment and pose health risks during the manufacturing process.
Choosing Safe Cookware
When picking up new cookware consumers often underestimate the potential negative health effects. There are some types of cookware available on the market, which may pose health risks if used regularly. To protect your body from exposure to harmful toxins, take safety into consideration, when investing in a new cookware set.
Best Materials for Producing Cookware
Glass cookware is quite safe and nonreactive, meaning it will not leach harmful ingredients into your food. Being inert is a great benefit for high-acidic and volatile foods. However, glass is heavy, prone to breaking and does not tolerate dramatic changes in temperature. Glass is most often used to make casserole pans and baking dishes.
Ceramic cookware can be clay-based or have a metal body covered by ceramic coating. Clay-based ceramic cookware is safe for cooking except it is coated in a glaze that contains lead. The chemical composition of ceramic is similar to sand and clay. If degrade, it will not have any effect on health. Ceramic cookware purchased from a reputable store should be safe, since the substances in glaze are highly regulated by governments. Once ceramic cookware gets chips, cracks, or crazing on the surface, it should not be used for cooking or serving food.
Ceramic non-stick cookware does not release toxins into the air or into the food you serve. Ceramic coating pans are a great advance over conventional, potentially toxic non-stick pans. The nonstick surface of the ceramic coating pans is stable on exposure to high heat and resistant to flaking off.
Enamel cookware uses an enamel coating over a durable material like steel and cast iron. Enameled cast iron cookware is one of the safest types of cookware. High-quality enamel coating is non-reactive and is safe for all types of cooking. As long as the enamel is not scratched or chipped the cooking surface prevents metals from leaking into food. A low quality enamel may contain lead, or may chip, allowing materials under the coating to leach into food. Enamel cookware should not be used once the finish has been damaged. Although enamel finishes are generally nonreactive they can discolor. The main drawbacks with enamel-coated cast iron are that it is expensive, breakable and requires thorough hand washing. Le Creuset makes high quality enamel coated cast iron.
Clay is inert, very safe and natural. The clay holds nutrient content and keeps food moisture. However, clay cookware is less durable than some others and needs extra care to prolong its life span.
Silicone is a very safe polymer made from sand and oxygen, non-reactive at temperatures less than 428 degrees. It is FDA approved and according to Canada’s health agency, does not react with food or beverages, or produce any harmful fumes. Cookware made from food grade silicone is both, heat and frost resistant, nonstick, stain-resistant, cools quickly, and tolerates high temperature extremes. The main use of silicone cookware is for baking pans, baking mats, muffin tins and molds.
Titanium cookware has been proven to be safe, and does not pose any threat to human health. Titanium cookware is nonreactive, non-stick, nonporous and resists scratching. Titanium is extraordinarily light and extremely strong. Since titanium is a very poor heat conductor, titanium cookware uses an aluminum base for optimum heat distribution. Being non-porous titanium layer prevents aluminum from leaking into the food. The main drawback is the price. Titanium cookware is very expensive.
Cast iron is durable, naturally non-stick, and less expensive than enamel. But iron is continually leached into the food. With regular use, iron can reach high levels in the body and some individuals may be at risk of iron overload. People with iron overload should not use iron skillets, particularly when cooking liquids and acidic foods.
To learn more about iron disorders and potential risks visit iron disorders website:
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron, consisting of iron and chromium. Stainless steel cooking surface steel allows other metals to leach into the foods. The elements used in stainless steel cookware which may produce negative health effects are nickel, iron and chromium. But the combination of metals used to create stainless steel cookware is more stable and less prone to leaching than other metals. An exception is stainless steel cookware that has been damaged by harsh scouring with a rough or abrasive material. Expose to acidic conditions at boiling temperature, causes iron, nickel, and chromium corrosion. You should not allow acidic or salty foods to remain in stainless steel cookware for long periods.
Teflon is a brand name for products made from Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Another chemical used in the process of making Teflon is Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). The major health effect linked with Teflon is possible release of dangerous fumes into the air from the pans that are overheated. These toxic fumes can cause flu-like symptoms in humans (Polymer fume fever), and has been shown to be deadly to birds. Scientific studies have suggested that high levels of PFOA in human blood could be linked to high cholesterol levels, reduced fertility, and thyroid disease. Manufacturers agreed to eliminate PFOA emissions by the year 2015. You should throw out your Teflon cookware immediately.
Aluminum cookware is one of the most common cookware to use. It is lightweight, excellent heat conductor and is fairly inexpensive. Raw aluminum is highly reactive to leafy vegetables and acidic foods and prone to warping and scratching. Aluminum cookware contaminates food with aluminum during cooking. High levels of aluminum in the body may cause respiratory and neurological problems. Aluminum ingestion is also associated with Alzheimer’s disease. Research suggests that the human nervous system may be a target of aluminum toxicity. Since aluminum cookware may pose some health hazards, it is a good idea to avoid aluminum exposure in cooking.
Anodized aluminum cookware has durable, non-stick and scratch-resistant surface. Anodization process is believed to reduce leaching of aluminum from cookware into foods, but there are still some potential health concerns, depending on the quality of non-stick coating.
Copper cookware has high thermal conductivity and cooks food evenly. Copper is relatively easily dissolved by alkaline or acidic foods during cooking. Large amounts of copper can cause a variety of health problems like behavior disorders, headaches, vomiting, depression, eczema, acne, and poor immune function. While copper may be a safer choice of cookware material than Teflon or aluminum, it is not recommended for your kitchen due to leaching concerns.
Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuonoat FreeDigitalPhotos.ne
Safe Non-Stick Cookware
Early nonstick pots and pans have been produced using harmful toxic chemicals in the manufacturing process. Teflon non-stick pans are made using PTFE (the chemical name for “Teflon”). When overheating, PTFE-based coating pans emit toxic fumes that are fatal to birds. This kind of cookware also creates toxic byproducts (PFOA) during the manufacturing process that ends up in our water and soil. Safe non-stick cookware is made without Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and gives you all the great advantages of nonstick surface, but without the potential risks to human health and the environment.
Main Advantages of Using Healthy Non-Stick Cookware
- Safe nonstick cookware remains non-toxic, without integrating any harmful substances Into your food;
- Non-Stick pots and pans offer health benefits of oil-free and low-fat cooking;
- This type of cookware is very easy to clean.
Safe Cooking Temperatures
One thing we also should avoid is high temperature cooking. Right cooking methods can increase nutrient availability, but overheating can easily damage the nutrient density of a food, and make enzymes in food inactive. Foods cooked at high temperatures, like meats, produce compounds that can increase inflammation in the body. Cooking at higher temperatures also makes enzymes in food inactive, and damages the integrity of the cookware.
It is important to cook foods to the right temperature to avoid foodborne illness. Using a food thermometer is the only reliable way to determine if food is cooked properly, so that it is safe to eat.