What we eat has a great impact on the state of our overall health. If we eat great, we feel great! It is no surprise then, that preparing our own foods and cooking is a great way to tailor our diet to our own needs. Did you know though, that the type of cookware you use can be just as important as the ingredients of your food? The food you cook with can be high quality, but if your cookware isn’t, then the toxins can leach into your thoughtfully prepared meals and into your body. Toxins are everywhere nowadays it seems, but we have control over whether or not they enter our bodies depending on the products we use. Here are 5 types of toxic cookware that you should be avoiding.
Avoid These 5 Toxic Cookware Types:
- Toxic Cookware: Non-Stick
This one is going to be a bummer for a lot of people to hear. I know for myself, I used to love cooking with my non-stick as it is convenient and easy to clean. Unfortunately, the coating of these pans are made of a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. According to Environmental Working Group, their 2003 tests showed the following:
“In just two to five minutes on a conventional stove top, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces could exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases”.
Research tested by the Federal Public Health Officials have found these toxins given off, such as PFCs, are in nearly all Americans, and can last up to 4 years in the blood. Chemicals from this family are associated with smaller birth weight and size in newborn babies (if women who have these chemicals then breastfeed), elevated cholesterol, abnormal thyroid hormone levels, liver inflammation and weakened immune defense against disease.
2. Toxic Cookware: Aluminum
In large quantities of aluminum, it is harmful to the body. Leaching of aluminum most likely occurs when the foods being cooked are either highly acidic, such as tomato sauce, lemon juice, vinegar, etc., or highly basic. Livestrong.com points out:
“In the case of tomato sauce, 3 to 6 milligrams of aluminum have been found per 100 g servings after being cooked in an aluminum pan. This is approximately 10 percent of the aluminum the average person consumes in a day”.
Tomato soup anyone? Another insight from Livestrong is that aluminum has been clearly identified as a toxin for the human nervous system, immune system and genetic system.
3. Toxic Cookware: Copper
As stated in The Safe Use of Cookware, by Health Canada:
“When acidic foods are cooked in unlined copper cookware, or in lined cookware where the lining has worn through, toxic amounts of copper can leach into the foods being cooked”
This effect is exacerbated if the copper has corroded, which is highly important to ensuring your cookware is not too worn. When heavy metals like copper builds up in the body, dangerous effects occur within the mind and body including mental disturbance and chronic illnesses. Chronic, long-term effects of copper exposure can damage the liver and kidneys.
4. Toxic Cookware: Lead
Ceramic coated, enamel, and glass cookware may be manufactured with lead which can give the product color uniformity, according to an article titled Is Your Cooking Killing You? Lead is extremely poisonous and can lead to many negative health effects. According to Contra Costa Health services:
“Lead hurts many parts of the body, but especially the growing brain and nervous system of the young child”.
Children under the age of 6 are most at risk for lead poisoning so if you have young children, it is especially important to avoid cooking with products that contain lead in the coating or glaze.
5. Toxic Cookware: Stainless Steel
According to Dr. Shelton’s Hygienic Review Division of Science, Engineering and Technology, the dangers of stainless steel are very clearly explained:
“Most stainless steel cookware sold in stores is of such a nature as to allow chrome and nickel to bleed out into foods as water and food chemicals react with the walls of the vessels as they are heated. The chrome and nickel salts are retained when ingested. They cannot be eliminated. They build up and in time can create troublesome conditions”.
The bottom line:
When we are trying to be truly healthy, we have to look at everything we are consuming. If we take the time to choose organic or choose ingredients that have no chemical additives, but we fail to take the time to choose non-toxic cookware, we consequentially still suffer from toxin consumption. It may seem cost-friendly to go with the cheaper made products, especially if you don’t necessarily notice the effects of the toxins right now. Unfortunately, in the long run, these toxins can and will accumulate and cause negative health effects. Keri Glassman, a certified nutritionist and founder of Nutritious Life in New York City, suggests cast-iron cookware, glass, and high-grade ceramics and stainless steel. It is wise to make the choice to invest in the non-toxic cookware— it is an investment in your health, which in my opinion, is the best investment there is.
So what can you use? The two healthiest types of cookware that you can use are glass cookware and ceramic cookware. Glass cookware can be difficult because it’s heavy and you have the risk of it breaking. Ceramic cookware on the other hand is a great option and can be found on amazon here.
Ewg.Org, Livestrong.Com, HappyCooking.Com, Ceramcor.com, Environmental Fact Sheet