Healthy Cookware Shopping Guide

January 30th, 2014

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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.

4. Glass

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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  • Ace Rich

    Thank you Amy for sharing this because lately I been feeling not well and I realized it’s my cookware. That cheap stuff we cook with isn’t going to be healthy for the entire family and thanks to reading this post I can bookmark a new shopping list of what I need in this house to change for the better of healthy meals.

  • karin

    I use Scanpan non stick and a cast iron skillet. Neither are made in China. The non stick Scanpans are made in Denmark, the non stick is titanium and eco friendly. They have been making pans since the 50’s and are very concerned about health

  • Mindy

    What can I use to bake cookies and have them not stick? I have read that parchment paper can be made a few different ways, either with chemicals, Quilon, or coated with silicone. And even the safest, greenest, silicone coated parchment papers have upper temperature limits. So as far as science can tell us, is it safe to bake on silicone coated parchment paper (e.g., If You Care brand), even though the company specifies it’s only oven safe up to 428 degrees? (I generally bake my cookies at around 375 degrees.) -Thanks.

  • Cynthia Albert

    Thank You, Amy for this article! I use the golden bakeware found at Williams Sonoma, their exclusive brand. The bakeware works marvelously, and I use Whole Foods brand parchment paper. Your thoughts, please?

  • Peta Fulton

    Yes very simple, clear and easy to follow your suggestions for the best cooking utensils. What is your opinion on microwave cooking?

    • Good question– I’ve read research saying it destroys the enzymes in food, and research saying it doesn’t. I myself stay away from it when I can. Some foods tend to dry out and lose their texture in the microwave!

    • Jacqui Sheales

      Hi Amy, I’ve just followed your Autoimmune Summit (Thank you! ) and wondered, it was mentioned stainless steel is comprised 70% nickle.. which was mentioned nickle was not good… wouldn’t that make stainless steel a bad option? I used to drink from stainless steel and stopped because I was tasting metal (my water was filtered) what’s your thoughts please?

  • Susie F.

    When my mother moved in 18 months ago, she brought with her a whole set of All Clad cookware. We love it! I have used another set of stainless steel cookware prior to that, but the I like the All Clad much better.

  • Lisa from ATX

    Dr. Myers, have you heard of “Salad Master”? It is crazy expensive but seems to be top notch. I have the actual “salad master” contraption for cutting up veggies etc & one of the pans and I’m saving up for more. I had a demo/cooking show at my house & they do a demo on how all the other brands react negatively with the food. The concept behind Salad Master is that you don’t have to use much if any oil and little water so more nutrients remain in the food.

  • Karen G

    Great article. I have been researching cookware so this is very helpful. One that I am looking at is Xtrema by Ceramcor. Have you had any experience with it? Thanks.