The safety of cookware has been a hot topic in recent years. After searching for the freshest, least-toxic foods for our families, we don’t want to undermine our efforts with toxic cookware. Studies conducted on various materials comprising the surface of cookware can be confusing and even contradictory at times. I’ll share some information and leave the final decision to you regarding what is best for your personal health and lifestyle.
UNSAFE CHEMICALS and COOKWARE
Scratched or peeling surfaces can leach unwanted chemicals into the food being cooked. PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) is one of the compounds of major concern. Though manufacturers have been working to eliminate all PFOA from cookware by 2015, it is important to look for pieces specifically stating “No PFOA.” If you have an older set, it’s worth it to consider investing in some new pieces.
PFOA has been linked to health problems including infertility, thyroid dysfunction, various cancers, organ damage, ulcerative colitis, immune defects, pregnancy-induced hypertension and birth defects. These toxic effects were documented in EWG’s (Environmental Working Group) report based on a review of 50,000 pages of regulatory studies and government documents, as well as independent studies. One independent study noted nonstick cookware used with high heat produced 15 harmful gases and chemicals. Dupont, maker of Teflon, has even acknowledged that these fumes can cause “polymer fume fever,” causing flu-like symptoms.
The brains of patients with Alzheimer’s Disease have been noted to have high aluminum content. For this reason, aluminum cookware is not highly recommended. Although copper is an essential trace mineral needed for our bones and connective tissue, excessive copper can lead to vitamin C deficiency and various cancers associated with high estrogen levels. For this reason, copper cookware may not be the best option.
Glass: Since glass is not porous, it doesn’t react with the contents. (Note: Some may contain lead.)
Ceramic: Ceramic has excellent heating properties. Choose one with 100% inorganic ceramic minerals. If not, they may contain lead.
Stoneware: Strong, durable and impervious to liquids. Primarily for use inside the oven unless it has been specifically designed for stovetop use. (Note: May not work well in a preheated oven since thermal shock can cause cracks. Always refer to manufacturer’s recommendations.)
Cast iron: Strong and durable. Used for decades and considered safe by many. (Note: there is concern of iron leaching into the food.)
Stainless Steel: 18/10 stainless steel is the usual recommendation (18% chromium and 10% nickel). One with an alloy of T-304 is non-leaching. A high quality T-304 will evenly distribute heat. (Note: Use with care if allergic to nickel.)
Since our bodies are the temple of the Lord, let us choose wisely. “Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty.” (Zechariah 14:21 / NIV)
What ailments have you experienced that may have been cookware-related?