When it comes to cooking, we must choose the best foods, but we must also choose utensils correctly and which are the safest materials for cooking.
Within the world of kitchen utensils, we find that they can be made of different materials. Cookware materials can transfer to food and poison us a little every day. That is why it is important to choose well with what we cook.
But, there are concerns about the safety of cookware, especially around non-stick coatings. Learn what are the safest cooking pans and best non-toxic cookware .
Why cookware matter
The most harmful way to come into contact with any toxin is through ingestion. Anytime we ingest anything, it has a direct route to the bloodstream and begins affecting the body right away.
You might think that food is the only way you introduce chemicals and toxins through ingestion, but what you cook your food within plays a part too. The pots and pans we cook in play a huge role as our food is in direct contact with it.
First, when a cooking medium is heated, it can oftentimes leach out into food. The higher the heat of a pan, the more of the components of the pan (or toxins in many cases), can leach out into our food.
Second, bits of the pan, especially if there are scratches can end up within our food. In some cases, like cast iron, it’s beneficial to the body. However, in most cases, heavy metals and toxins can be entering our bloodstream through ingestion. Making sure there are no scratches or chips can help this, but really it can be completely avoided by using a safe cookware option.
Finally, the heating process of the pan can cause many of the materials within a pot or a pan to off-gas into the air. If you’re standing over the food you’re cooking, you’re inhaling those gases, which are entering your body. Using a vent fan can help minimize this, but the ultimate way to avoid this problem of inhaling toxins is by using safe cookware.
Cookware materials to avoid
Below are cookware materials to avoid as they are considered unsafe and pose great risks to our health:
Highly reactive and a known neurotoxin that affects over 200 important functions within the human body (Study) Linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia and nervous system damage (Study). Also linked to autism spectrum disorders (Study)
Non-stick pans contain polytetrafluoroethylene, which is extremely toxic. When heated, Teflon releases at least six toxic gasses, most of which are carcinogenic. Teflon is highly toxic when heated and quickly reaches an unsafe temperature when just preheating. (Study) It has been linked to cancer and reproductive problems. (Study)
3. Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA)
Another non-stick product linked to the development of tumours. It has also been shown to have a negative effect on immune systems, endocrine systems and hormone production as well as the liver. (Study)
Copper quickly and easily leaches into food when it is in contact with acidic foods. Overconsumption of copper can lead to ulcers and liver damage (Study). Copper also suppresses zinc levels, leading to the malfunctioning of the adrenals and thyroid gland.
Some cookware that is ceramic, enamel or glass can have lead mixed in to reduce breakage. Lead is highly toxic and has a wide range of symptoms as it accumulates in the body. (Study)
Cadmium is also in glazes on cookware to give them a uniform colour and more balanced heating abilities. Cadmium is a toxic metal and a known human carcinogen. It can build up in the kidneys and liver over time and stays in the body for a very long time. (Study)
While nickel is a naturally occurring metal, excessive exposure has been linked to lung and nasal cancers as well as dermatitis and neurological effects. (Study)
Healthiest & Safest Cookware Materials
These are the healthiest and safest cookware materials , according to Roasten:
1. Anodized aluminium
Anodized cookware is made from aluminium that is hardened by an electrochemical process called anodizing. The anodizing process for aluminium is a relatively simple electrochemical process.
The aluminium part is immersed in the sulfuric acid bath and then subjected to electric shocks. During the process, the outer layer of aluminium oxidizes when exposed to oxygen. Once this step has been carried out, the temperature of the acid bath is reduced and an electric current is passed through it, causing the surface of the aluminium to anodize very quickly. Thanks to this process, the hardness of this material is twice that of stainless steel.
Anodized aluminium is high durability and resistance are the main advantages of this type of material. If used correctly it can last a lifetime and the best part, it offers a uniform distribution of heat, something very important for those who love cooking.
2. Tempered glass
Cookware made of tempered glass are safe, inert and do not react when including food, therefore, it turns out to be an excellent option, especially for people with allergies or heavy metal poisoning. They do not transmit odour, taste and are easy to clean. Tempered glass is much stronger than normal glass and can withstand heat and pressure. Make sure you find one that is free of lead and cadmium in the glaze.
3. Cast iron
Iron is one of the most ancient materials for making kitchen utensils. Of this material, we can distinguish two categories: cast iron or mineral iron. The second is produced through sand moulds, its pieces are thicker and sometimes include enamels that prevent oxidation.
When cooking with this type of utensil, food can absorb small amounts of iron that can benefit us if we have low levels of this mineral and it can harm us if we have a diet high in iron.
In the world of haute cuisine, cast iron pieces are usually used, since they are more robust and durable, and the material itself works as a natural non-stick.
4. Stainless steel
Stainless steel is an alloy of iron and carbon (steel) to which approximately 10% chromium has been added to provide corrosion resistance.
There are mainly two types of stainless steel, austenitic and ferritic, although there are many more types. The latter is more recommended as it does not contain nickel as an alloying element. Chromium amounts are not of concern but nickel amounts could be behind skin reactions in people sensitive to it.
Titanium is the ninth most abundant metal on earth, known for its safety, its biocompatibility and its use in the manufacture of prostheses, dental implants or aeronautical parts due to its resistance to extreme situations.
Due to its advantages, it is likely that titanium will end up becoming the practical option to the rest of the innocuous products on the market, since, unlike some of them (especially glass and ceramics) it requires minimal maintenance and is more resistant.
The best part? Pure titanium is considered a safe choice for producing cookware because it is non-toxic, stable, resistant to acid degradation, and will not affect the taste of food. No cases of titanium allergies have been reported and titanium is considered to be non-toxic even at high doses.
Healthiest & Safest Cookware Materials
- Anodized aluminium
- Tempered glass
- Cast iron
- Stainless steel