Choosing the Right Cookware

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

Cookware

We hear a lot about the importance of eating food that’s organically grown and free of pesticides and other harmful toxins. That’s often where the conversation stops. However, should we also give consideration to the cookware we use to prepare the food we eat? Of course nobody wants to eat food with a high aluminum content, but what about preparing food in aluminum cookware? Does that present safety concerns? What about stainless steel cookware? Much research indicates that we need to be as deliberate in the cookware we use as we are in the foods we consume.

The Dangers of Aluminum Cookware

Exposure to, or ingestion of, aluminum can negatively affect the nervous and skeletal system; it’s even thought to be linked to Alzheimer’s disease. [1] Despite this, foods are commonly stored or prepared in aluminum containers which present leaching dangers. This is especially true with acidic and salty foods; citric acid in particular is known to leach aluminum from cookware. [2]

Coffee is not generally known to contain aluminum naturally but when researchers at the Department of Agroenvironmental Chemistry and Plant Nutrition at Czech University of Life Sciences in Prague brewed coffee in aluminum containers, they discovered it to produce detectable levels of aluminum in the coffee. [3]

It’s also important to note that sometimes foods may be prepared in aluminum containers before it even reaches you. The Department of Food Hygiene and Control at Egypt’s Mansoura University found levels of aluminum in milk stored in aluminum containers (likely at the production level). [4]

Boiling water in aluminum cookware prior to use will greatly decrease the amount of aluminum leached, but the best choice is to simply avoid aluminum cookware altogether. [5]

The Dangers of Stainless Steel Cookware

Stainless steel is used in home and commercial cookware but, like aluminum, stainless is readily attacked by acids, particularly at cooking temperatures, and its components can be released into food. The Division of Science, Engineering and Technology at Pennsylvania State found that stainless utensils exposed to even mildly acidic conditions at boiling temperature caused nickel, chromium, and iron corrosion. [6] Research conducted at Texas Tech University College of Human Sciences concluded with similar determinations. [7]

Although it does not completely solve the problem, the Hôpital Edouard Herriot in France recommends that individuals with nickel sensitivity should use nickel-free stainless steel. [8]

The Dangers of Non Stick Cookware

Perhaps one of the most common types of cookware is that which is non-stick. If you’ve ever used sub-par cookware, you probably know how easy it is for some cooking surfaces to cause burnt food to lock on with cement-like attachment. This is a pain to clean up and it ruins the food. Non-stick cookware is designed to prevent this problem, but it also introduces new safety concerns.

Perfluorinated compounds (PFC’s) are synthetic compounds used to manufacture non-stick surfaces. However, both the US Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition and the New York State Department of Health have found that these compounds can remain on the surface of non-stick cookware and be released into food. [9] [10]

Why should you avoid PFC’s? Well, when they accumulate in the body, negative effects to the reproductive system, brain, and liver are all possibilities. Some PFCs are even considered to be human carcinogens. [11] In 2012, Greece’s Department of Nutrition and Dietetics at Harokopio University found a correlation between the use of non-stick cookware and colorectal cancer. [12]

The Dangers of Ceramic Cookware

Ceramic cookware isn’t as inherently dangerous as the other previously mentioned cookware except for when it’s coated in glaze that contains lead. In some parts of South America it can be common to grind spices in cookware glazed with lead. The grinding action, or presence of acidic foods, can result in lead contamination. [13]

Are There Any Safe Alternatives?

A slightly outside-the-box option to consider would be to eat more raw foods. Raw foods contain more live enzymes and nutrients than their cooked counterparts. Depending on your dietary choices, however, raw is not always an option. Safe alternatives to questionable cookware do exist but it’s necessary to seek them out on purpose and be an educated consumer. A company that I am completely unaffiliated with, Ozeri, produces a quality line of ceramic non-stick pans that are free of PFC’s and will not release toxic metals. Have you found an alternative you prefer? Please leave a comment and share it with us!

References (13)
  1. Wang J. Current researches on biological effect of aluminum. Wei Sheng Yan Jiu. 2002 Aug;31(4):320-2. Review. Chinese.
  2. Gramiccioni L, Ingrao G, Milana MR, Santaroni P, Tomassi G. Aluminium levels in Italian diets and in selected foods from aluminium utensils. Food Addit Contam. 1996 Oct;13(7):767-74.
  3. Franková A, Drábek O, Havlík J, Száková J, Vanek A. The effect of beverage preparation method on aluminium content in coffee infusions. J Inorg Biochem. 2009 Nov;103(11):1480-5. doi: 10.1016/j.jinorgbio.2009.06.012. Epub 2009 Aug 20.
  4. Ai-Ashmawy MA. Prevalence and public health significance of aluminum residues in milk and some dairy products. J Food Sci. 2011 Apr;76(3):T73-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3841.2011.02064.x. Epub 2011 Mar 16.
  5. Karbouj R, Desloges I, Nortier P. A simple pre-treatment of aluminium cookware to minimize aluminium transfer to food. Food Chem Toxicol. 2009 Mar;47(3):571-7. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.12.028. Epub 2008 Dec 27.
  6. Kuligowski J, Halperin KM. Stainless steel cookware as a significant source of nickel, chromium, and iron. Arch Environ Contam Toxicol. 1992 Aug;23(2):211-5.
  7. Park J, Brittin HC. Increased iron content of food due to stainless steel cookware. J Am Diet Assoc. 1997 Jun;97(6):659-61.
  8. Accominotti M, Bost M, Haudrechy P, Mantout B, Cunat PJ, Comet F, Mouterde C, Plantard F, Chambon P, Vallon JJ. Contribution to chromium and nickel enrichment during cooking of foods in stainless steel utensils. Contact Dermatitis. 1998 Jun;38(6):305-10.
  9. Begley TH, White K, Honigfort P, Twaroski ML, Neches R, Walker RA. Perfluorochemicals: potential sources of and migration from food packaging. Food Addit Contam. 2005 Oct;22(10):1023-31.
  10. Sinclair E, Kim SK, Akinleye HB, Kannan K. Quantitation of gas-phase perfluoroalkyl surfactants and fluorotelomer alcohols released from nonstick cookware and microwave popcorn bags. Environ Sci Technol. 2007 Feb 15;41(4):1180-5.
  11. Genuis SJ, Birkholz D, Ralitsch M, Thibault N. Human detoxification of perfluorinated compounds. Public Health. 2010 Jul;124(7):367-75. doi: 10.1016/j.puhe.2010.03.002. Epub 2010 Jun 19.
  12. Kontou N, Psaltopoulou T, Soupos N, Polychronopoulos E, Linos A, Xinopoulos D, Panagiotakos DB. The role of number of meals, coffee intake, salt and type of cookware on colorectal cancer development in the context of the Mediterranean diet. Public Health Nutr. 2013 May;16(5):928-35. doi: 10.1017/S1368980012003369. Epub 2012 Aug 8.
  13. Villalobos M, Merino-Sánchez C, Hall C, Grieshop J, Gutiérrez-Ruiz ME, Handley MA. Lead (II) detection and contamination routes in environmental sources, cookware and home-prepared foods from Zimatlán, Oaxaca, Mexico. Sci Total Environ. 2009 Apr 1;407(8):2836-44. doi: 10.1016/j.scitotenv.2008.12.059. Epub 2009 Jan 29.

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • Ed

    Thanks for the article. It was very interesting & looks as many dinner preparing methods are dangerous! I would definitely like to know which cookware to purchase but after all these years it’s sounding as though I may not have anything inside of me left to possibly save!

  • Trace

    What about cast iron?

  • gorgegirl99

    Cast iron is great. Look for it in thrift shops and try to find the old ones that are made in the USA. I do that because many items made in Asia are made with recycled toxic materials.

  • jill

    We use scanpan which is great. Non toxic and easy to clean. We buy ours for a slight discount on Ebay.

  • Kristin Deritis

    Concord Eco Friendly makes a nice ceramic set. No PTFE chemicals used.

  • Edward Group

    Great info Kristin, thanks for sharing!

  • brodster

    have you done any research on Ozeri cookware? because its pretty bad dude..

  • What do you dislike about Ozeri?

  • brodster

    its cheap cookware make in china by a Chinese company, the nonstick ceramic will scratch within the first couple of months (2-3) of use… I’m sure it will leak toxic chemicals in to food… sounds pretty toxic to me.

  • Bummer! So many good reviews. What do you use instead?

  • Good call!

  • Arlene

    my husband and I just got rid or all our non stick cookware and wants to buy ceramic instead and we are thinking of buying Dr. Mercola’s ceramic cookware. Anyone who has any take or feedback on this?

  • Pingback: Using a Non-Stick Pan? You May Want to Read This | secrets-1.com()

  • I tried a ceramic wok once, some ‘Green’ thing, I forget the full name. It was hopeless at non-stick and soon got scratched to bits, even using wooden utensils. Utterly useless. Hard for me to believe any other brands would be better.

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  • Oye Edokpolor

    wow, interesting post to read. I was only researching heavy metals and their effect on humans when i saw this. it only confirms what i discovered 2 months ago. I only discovered the heavy metal poisoning 2 months ago and now I use titanium cookware from Saladmaster. The sets are not cheap initially, but they do the job! The cookware is made to a standard not a price. No bad comments about it and its a lifetime guarantee. If you want cookware that does not leach toxins and chemicals into your food and enables you to cook at low heat, hence preserving, on average, 93% of the nutrition in your food, you need Saladmaster. I did not just buy it for myself, I joined them in letting people know about it. You can contact me on oye_b@hotmail.com for more information.

  • Pingback: The Benefits Of Organic Dishwashing LiquidQuantum Reality | Quantum Reality()

  • Pingback: Using a Non-Stick Pan? You May Want to Read This - Eye Opening Info | Eye Opening Info()


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