We live in a world where there is increasing toxins from the environment that is affecting our lives, creating havoc in our ability to produce energy, causing degenerative diseases, affecting hormonal balance and reducing fertility.
One of the major contributors of toxins come from our cookware! Yes our kitchen can increase toxic burden for us! Heat in cooking can increase the leaching of toxic chemicals from the cookware into the food. And cumulative consumption of the cookware toxins in food create more burden for our detoxification pathways. There are lots of noise in the internet regarding what is a safe cookware. The purpose of this article is to investigate and see which scientific evidence stack up.
Aluminium cookware and aluminium foil
Increased exposure to aluminium has been associated with increased risk of diseases like Alzheimers, microcytic anemia and allergy. In a 2017 study, using Aluminium foiled pans in barbeque increases aluminium load in children especially if the meats are marinated in acidic juices. One study found that pretreating the cookware in boiling water decreases the leaching of aluminium into the food.
Small doses of intake accumulated over a long period of time can pose a problem particularly for children.
This is a key coating ingredient used in non-stick cookware like Teflon. The exposure of this chemical is so rampant, it is even found in breastmilk!
Studies in lab animals have found exposure to PFOA increases the risk of certain tumors of the liver, testicles, mammary glands (breasts), and pancreas in these animals. In general, well-conducted studies in animals do a good job of predicting which exposures cause cancer in people. Studies have looked at people with exposure to PFOA by living near working in these PFOA plants. These studies have found higher incidences of testicular, kidney and thyroid cancer. The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization (WHO). One of its goals is to identify causes of cancer. IARC has classified PFOA as “possibly carcinogenic to humans” (Group 2B).
This is another chemical of concern in Teflon cookware. Increase in temperature increases the release of these chemicals into the food.
Copper and cast iron
Copper cookware may be beneficial or not depending on what your balance of copper and zinc looks like. It can potentially be toxic if you have a high copper load.
Cast iron can leach iron into your food, which may be helpful if you are anemic but not useful of you have a genetic condition of hemochromatosis or excess iron load.
This is a good option but because stainless steel is made from nickel, there is a risk of the leaching of nickel into the food, especially if it is acidic. Hence, choose high quality stainless steel and if you are cooking something with an acidic base like adding lemon or tamarind juice, remove it from the cookware once it is cooked. However, stainless steel is my preferred cookware.
Glass seems to be a safer option especially for long periods of cooking of casserole in the oven. The same principle applies, choose high quality glass cookware so that there is little leaching of coating into the food.
Avoid using aluminium foil, Teflon or aluminium pots and pans in cooking
Do not use abrasive cleaners that can remove coatings from your metal cookware
Buy high quality stainless steel or glass cookware
If you cook anything acidic in metal cookware, remove soon as cooking is done into a glass container and avoid storing it, i.e. cook only as much as you would like to consume.