Healthy Cookware Shopping Guide
January 30th, 2014
Healthy Cookware Shopping Guide
When it comes to shopping for your kitchen, do you have no idea where to start? Do you wish you could find an easy-to-use guideline for kitchen cookware and storage? Look no further! I have received so many questions from patients about healthy cookware that I decided to write this article with my own personal product recommendations. And while changing out your cookware won’t happen overnight, progressive steps in the right direction, like switching out pots and pans one at a time, can still greatly benefit your health. The list below describes 4 toxic materials to avoid and 4 kitchen materials to gather for your home.
Toxic Cookware to Avoid:
1. Ceramic-coated pans
Ceramic-coated pans and cutlery are various metals coated with a synthetic polymer that is softer than metal. This coating can easily wear off and usually only lasts for about one year. Once the coating begins to wear off, toxic metals can begin leaching into your food, depending on the material underneath the coating.
2. Non-stick cookware (Teflon)
Non-stick cookware contains a similar synthetic coating of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), which is a plastic polymer that can release harmful and carcinogenic gases at temperatures exceeding 500 degrees fahrenheit. In humans, these fumes can cause flu-like symptoms several hours after exposure, resulting in a condition called polymer fume fever that is often misdiagnosed as the viral flu. The gases are so toxic that they are fatal for most birds.
3. Aluminum cookware and aluminum foil
Aluminum cookware is often coated to prevent leaching of aluminum, however these protective coatings can chip and wear off very easily. Aluminum can be very affordable cookware, but may not be worth the risk of leaching aluminum into your food and contributing to a potential aluminum toxicity. Aluminum can accumulate in your brain, lungs, bones, and other tissues, causing tangles in nerve fibers and leading to muscular dysfunction and memory loss. Aluminum has not been shown to be a cause of Alzheimer’s disease, but increased levels of aluminum in the brain have been noted in autopsies of Alzheimer’s patients which suggests that aluminum toxicity may be a risk factor in the disease. Common sources of aluminum include: antiperspirants, some toothpastes, aluminum foil, aluminum cans, and aluminum cookware. Simply ditching the aluminum foil for a glass baking dish can help you reduce your intake of aluminum.
4. Copper pans
Copper cookware heats very evenly which is wonderful; however, I do not recommend using it in your home. Uncoated copper can leach into your food and even protective coatings will break down over time. Too much copper can suppress your zinc levels and weaken your immune system, interfering with adrenal and thyroid function which most commonly results in fatigue.
Use these non-toxic materials instead:
1. Enameled Cast-Iron
Coated cast-iron pans offer the non-stick benefits of teflon without the harmful gases. Enameled cast-iron pots are easier to care for and available in various colors, but if you want the benefits of iron, then opt for the bare pots.
2. Bare Cast-Iron
When seasoned properly, bare cast-iron is the ideal non-stick surface. It can also leach small amounts of iron into your food when cooking acidic ingredients. This can be beneficial for those who suspect an iron deficiency and need to increase their intake of iron. Bare cast-iron requires a little more care than enameled cast-iron, but it is more affordable and tends to heat more evenly than its enameled counterpart. Bare cast-iron can also be used in an oven or on a grill.
3. Stainless steel
Stainless steel cookware is affordable and very stable at high temperatures. This cookware is non-stick, lighter than cast-iron, resistant to scratching, and lasts significantly longer than coated materials.
Similar to cast-iron and stainless steel, glass is a sturdy material that will not release chemicals or toxic metals into your food. Glass dishes are ideal for baking and storing leftovers. I recommend using glass storage containers instead of plastic tupperware in order to avoid toxins like bisphenol-A (BPA), which can imitate estrogen and other sex hormones.
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