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Health & Safety Tips for Choosing the Right Cookware

  • Non-Stick

  • Copper

  • Aluminum

  • Stainless Steel

  • Glass

  • Cast Iron & Enamel Coated

  • Ceramic

What’s the healthiest and safest cookware?

Non-Stick Teflon Cookware - AVOID

When non-stick cookware was first discovered, it was like a dream come true. Simple to use, easy to clean, it seemed like a perfect option.

Unfortunately, research over the past 20 years has revealed how truly dangerous non-stick surfaces really are. The toxic fumes and dangerous chemicals in non-stick cookware are a significant threat to human health.

In 1960, the government approved non-stick cookware despite inadequate safety testing. Sadly there were no specific safety regulations at the time for cookware to be approved, and so Teflon's chemical composition was regarded as safe at the time. These elements were present in fried hamburger meat but did not pose a serious threat to the public's health.

For more than 50 years, DuPont, the first business to use these chemicals to make non-stick cookware, insisted that regular use of their product did not release any hazardous compounds.

DuPont even recently asserted that "significant decomposition of the coating will occur only temperatures exceed above 660 degrees F (340 degrees D)." These temperatures are significantly higher than those used for cooking.

Research has revealed otherwise.

During testing, a non-stick frying pan was heated on a regular electric stovetop burner and the temperature increased until testing was terminated. The pan that was tested reached 736 degrees F in just 3 minutes, 20 seconds.

Even DuPont’s own studies acknowledge that Teflon emits dangerous compounds around 446°F. At temperatures of 680°F, it at least 6 highly toxic gases are being emitted, including two that are carcinogenic. Higher temperatures emit even more potent leaks.

Non-stick coating essentially breaks down into into the chemical warfare agent PFIB at these temperatures. PFIB is similar to the nerve agent phosgene employed in World War II.

What are the Dangers of Non-Stick Coating?

Numerous health risks have been found in animal studies examining PFOA, the dangerous chemical toxin found in non-stick coatings, including:

  • Mammary, testicular, liver, and pancreatic tumors

  • Reproductive disturbances including birth defects and infertility

  • Immune system complications

  • Alterations to the regulation of thyroid hormones

Based on the research, the EPA warns that PFOA are a significant threat to the reproduction and development of humans. Teflon can emit Carbon Dioxide, PFIB, and other toxic gases when heated.

Due to their failure to report critical health information regarding the dangers of PFOA back in 1981, Upont was fined more than $313 million, and it was suggested that they withdraw Teflon from the marketplace.

Copper Cookware - AVOID

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, despite being a common metal found in the water, air, and environment, our daily exposure to copper may already be excessive.

The permissible drinking water standard of copper is 1,300 ppb. Most families have drinking water with more than 1,000 ppb due to corroded copper pipes and environmental contaminants.

Copper toxicity has been linked to respiratory problems, abnormal blood cell counts, gastrointestinal disturbance like nausea and diarrhea, Cushing's syndrome, and other systemic symptoms like muscle aches, sleepiness, headache, and fever.

Copper cookware is an excellent heat conductor, allowing for consistently controlled temperatures when cooking. However, the safety risks associated with copper should cause you to abandon copper cookware.

Aluminum Cookware - AVOID

While it's impossible to completely avoid aluminum exposure nowadays, you can reduce your chance of consuming it through cooking. High aluminum concentrations have long been associated with both kidney stone sufferers and Alzheimer's disease, according to numerous studies.

However, it is still unclear to experts if aluminum is solely to blame for these negative effects. Aluminum is already present in high concentrations in antacids, deodorants, aspirin, food additives, flour, baking soda, and cosmetics, therefore these dangers should be taken into consideration.

Even lead poisoning in developing nations has been linked to some sources of aluminum cookware. If purchasing new, healthier cookware is out of your current price range, one study revealed that pre-boiling water in an aluminum pot or pan can lessen the transmission of toxins by as much as 60%.

Stainless Steel Cookware - SAFE

Because it is generally inert and not reactive with foods, stainless steel cookware is highly considered as safe. However, even stainless steel can leach elements into food such as chromium, nickel, iron, and molybdenum — especially at high temperatures and/or if cooking with acidic foods. If you’re going to be cooking with foods like tomatoes or lemons, glass cookware would be a safer alternative.

Additionally, stainless steel is not the best heat conductor, so you'll commonly find that stainless steel cookware has a copper or aluminum coating on the bottom of the pan to promote heat transfer. They may also have an aluminum or copper interior layer.

It is also important to note that any damage to a cooking surface raises the possibility of heavy metals seeping into your meal.

Glass Cookware - SAFE

The pros of glass cookware are that it’s inert, affordable, and does not absorb food odors or flavors. The cons are that it’s highly breakable and does not conduct heat evenly. A great option for high temperature cooking and baking is tempered glass as it’s more durable; just be sure to choose products that are lead-free.

Cast Iron & Enamel Coated Cookware - SAFE

Cast iron pans have stood the test of time for generations. Unless you have a high iron level, this cast iron cookware is highly regarded by chefs.

Cast iron is easy to maintain, and has strong heat retention properties. It may be purchased pre-seasoned or not, and is commonly used to create a sear foods. If you are looking to simmer a homemade sauce all day, a good option is enameled cast iron.

Cast iron can react with acidic foods, resulting in a metallic flavor or discoloration. Enameled cast iron, however will not.

Ceramic Cookware - SAFE

Ceramic is another good cookware option. Similar to enameled cast iron, ceramic holds high temperatures for long periods of time, without the risk of poisonous gases or heavy metal leaking into food.

Easy to cook and clean, ceramic cookware is non-toxic, non-reactive, and does not discolor or alter the taste of cooked food. Ceramic it is made from inert minerals, but some concern has been expressed about the safety of glazed or nonstick coated ceramics on the market.

It is best to conduct research on each manufacturer and the quality of materials, as well as the safety guidelines and reports that are available to you, the consumer.

With any product, if any cookware is damaged via cuts, chips or any sort of abrasion the product should not be used.

Source: Dr. Jockers


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