While we know that the quality of food we put into our bodies is important (as well as the containers we use to store them), another item to be considered is the cookware used when heating. I personally have two stainless steel pans that I use often and a large set of non-stick cookware (which I have just discovered to be aluminum) that I generally use for frying. When I acquired these pans I wasn’t aware of potential health issues surrounding them and thus recently decided to explore the safest options.
To start, I referenced my trusty Nourishing Traditions cookbook which recommends stainless steel cookware and baking pans as opposed to aluminum even though it is more expensive. The book states the reason is that when cooking salty or acidic foods, aluminum (a toxic metal) can be dissolved into the food and thus consumed. Ingesting aluminum is considered dangerous and has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Cast iron skillets are recommended as a safer alternative to these types of pans.
Non-stick cookware is also problematic as PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid), a synthetic chemical used in the manufacturing of coatings, is known for producing fumes that can actually kill birds when subjected to high temperatures. These fumes are not something I want to risk breathing in every day! In addition, studies have shown PFOA presenting a danger to exposed workers. I would never want someones health to suffer so that I could have a non-stick pan! In addition, Natural News reports that PFOA has been linked to 150% increase in infertility, an increased risk for ADHD in children, and even the risk for thyroid disease.
While I can’t very well just go out and replace a whole set of cookware at this time, at least I know that when I do (even if piece by piece) there are safer options. I did note some findings where stainless steel is said to leach nickel, but since the overall combination of metals used is more stable than other cookware, there is less chance for this to occur. In addition, iron leaching from cast iron pans is also notable as although it’s an important mineral, some people may be at risk for ingesting excessive iron and may want to pursue other options.
Whatever material you use, it’s important to follow the manufacturers instructions for washing and care. Also, avoid scrubbing hard which can damage the pan and expose buried layers thus increasing the danger of contaminating your food.
I want to hear your thoughts on the different types of cookware. What are your recommendations and are there any types that you avoid in particular?