Cookware

Reducing your exposure to toxins means being mindful and informed when it comes to cookware.  In this post is information about the cookware available on the market and how to make the safest choices when it comes to your kitchenware.

Unsafe cookware

Aluminium

This is a highly toxic way to cook.  Aluminium is a metal that has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  The aluminium is stored in the brain and affects its capabilities.  Aluminium heats quickly which is why it’s used in cookware, however when heated it easily leaches into food.  Quite often, cheaper cookware will be made from aluminium.  Certain cookware has aluminium used as the base then it is covered with a safer material such as a ceramic coating.  This is better to use but be careful that the outer material does not become damaged then exposing you and your family to the dangerous metal.  Personally, I am now on mission not to use aluminium in my kitchen (I threw the cookware out) and would recommend that you avoid cooking with any product that contains this metal.

Teflon

Teflon pots and pans are everywhere and boast of their non-stick qualities.  A study carried out showed Teflon to be the only toxin present in a 100% of the umbilical cords of pregnant women in the United States. Scary!! Teflon releases toxic fumes into the air which you can breathe in and absorb into your system… and we are cooking with this!! Also, be mindful that Teflon itself is easy to scratch and underneath the rest of the Teflon product is most likely a dangerous metal, probably aluminium.  I suggest you start replacing your current cookware with some of the safer materials listed later.

Plastic

Plastic is not for cooking! When plastic is heated it releases toxic chemicals into foods which can create health issues.  Most plastics will leach xenoestrogenes or BPA when heated.  Xenoestrogenes are artificial hormones that sit on natural oestrogen receptors and cause hormone imbalances.  So NEVER heat plastic containers or use plastic bowls to heat food or add hot food or liquids.  If you are storing leftover food, use ceramics or source BPA free plastic.  When storing your water to carry around, try to use glass bottles or BPA free water bottles.  I found a great BPA free plastic bottle for my son at Wilko and Wilko, Waitrose and Ikea do ranges of nice glass bottles that you can store your water in.

 

Safe Cookware

Ceramic

Ceramic cookware can be one of the safest to use.  The main thing to ascertain is if the glaze on the ceramic pot etc contains lead or other toxins.  So, do your homework or write to the manufacturer before making a purchase.   That said, ceramic-enamelled cast iron cookware can be quite safe.   Be gentle when cleaning it to avoid any scratching or chipping and you should get a great deal of pleasure from using your cookware as well as peace of mind for the health of your family. Another good thing about purchasing ceramic cookware is that you can use it for the top of your oven as well as the inside.  Yay super! I love multi functional items.

The most famous and most commendable ceramic cookware is a brand called Extrema.  They describe themselves as ‘healthy cookware’ as they do not use the toxic coatings that other ceramic brands may use.  You can get their products from Amazon as well as other UK distributors.  The problem is that they are incredibly expensive. However, I am sure they are well worth it and are long lasting.

However looking at more reasonable price option; I have found a few ECO cookware brands out there; they are often aluminium or steel based but have a ceramic coating.   So with these, you have to be careful when cleaning and I do not think they have a life time’s longevity but I do however think they are safe and good value for money.

If you purchase non-stick ceramic, make sure that the coating is PTFE-PFOA & Cadmium Free.

There are brands available in the UK such as:

GREENpan who report that; whilst using their product no toxic fumes will leach during cooking.   These are also cadmium- and lead-free products.

  • http://www.ecopan-cookware.com/co-friendly cookware is PTFE and PFOA free.
  • amazon.co.uk/Ozeri-PFOA-Free-Stone-Derived-Non-Stick-Coating PFOA free.

Glass cookware:

Glass cookware is safe to use but it can take some getting used to as it is slower to conduct heat than ceramic and steel.  Look for recently made glass cookware to avoid possible lead exposure.  Read the manufacturer’s guide on how to use and be sure to wait for it to cool down before attempting to wash (this avoids cracks and breakages).

Pyrex is a huge leader in glass cookware manufacturing and is relatively easy to find in most department stores and second hand shops.

Cast Iron

Cast iron cookware requires ‘seasoning’ which means baking the cookware with oil to create a non-stick surface. When the cookware is ‘seasoned’ this creates a uniform heating surface and some of the iron that leaches into the food can be healthful.  However, too much iron can lead to fatigue in men and menopausal women so use sparingly if you fall into these categories.

A good recommended manufacturer of cast iron is Lodge and I have seen their products on Amazon.

Stainless steel

Some sources say that this is safe whilst others say that if the food is too acidic it can leach nickel, colbalt and chromium into your food.  In order to make stainless steel, nickel needs to be present and this can cause allergies in sensitive individuals. To check which stainless steel cookware products have less nickel in them, take a magnet when making a purchase.  The more magnetic the product, the less nickel it contains.

Bamboo

Bamboo is a great and safe way to cook.  Bamboo, being a natural resource, does not leach any toxins and the stacking system allows you to cook foods of different density all at the same time.

For completely organic and pesticide free bamboo cookware see:

  • http://www.bambuhome.com/pages/certified-organic

Clay

Clay cookware is an ancient way to cook.  The un-glazed clay seals in nutrients similar to steaming.  A really lovely looking unglazed cookware company is:

  • http://www.clayclay.co.uk/html/contact_the_clay_clay.html

In Summary:

There is a new technology being used on each of these “new eco/green” cookware products and, at present, there is no research to determine if their claims can stand the test of time.  If you want to be 100% toxin free when cooking, using ceramic cookware with glazing that has been deemed to be without lead or toxins is the way to go.  Alternatively, use clay, glass or cast iron cookware and stainless steel (remember as magnetic as you can get it, take your magnet to test in the shop).  Use bamboo to steam and never heat food that is in a plastic container or in aluminium trays.

Personal Note:

A year on from purchasing a cheap “green” ceramic set, scratches have started to appear on the pans despite the predominate use of wooden spatulas.  Therefore, I would suggest the purchase of the best ceramic or iron skillet that you can and use glass for most of the oven cooking.  You can offset the expense by purchasing glass cookware at any of your local charity shops.  I like Pyrex or Ikea sell really good glass containers with lockable lids which you can also use for left overs to be stored in the fridge.   These can be placed in the oven (without their lids), fridge and dishwasher; they are cost effective and non-toxic.  I have been using non-toxic cookware for years now and I can say I absolutely love it. The set has all that I need for most day to day cooking and it gives me peace of mind.

FYI, if you also have fluoride in your water or fluoride in your toothpaste this dramatically increases the chances of your body being able to ingest the aluminium that may be leeching from your cookware.

 

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