Healthy Cooking

Striving to prepare and eat clean, organic, non-toxic foods is vital for good health, but our cookware could be sabotaging these efforts.

The literal core of the problem is the fact that all metal cookware can “react” or leach when combined with certain foods or acidity, or when simply heated. Even stainless steel – which is a metal alloy – can leach iron, chromium and nickel. Aluminum isn’t the only player among these Alzheimer’s causing suspects. Experts agree that reactive metals are harmful when ingested at certain quantities. In addition, most cookware coatings that ostensibly protect us from excess metals when cooking, have toxic properties. Many non-stick coatings, like Teflon, contain synthetic polymer(s) (PTFE) or (PFOA), a known carcinogen. When considering any coated cookware, always confirm that the product is PTFE and PFOA-free.

“Exposure to Teflon resins at temperatures above 393ºF may produce a condition termed polymer fume fever characterized by flu-like symptoms such as chills, fever, body aches, nausea and occasional vomiting.”  – Federal Aviation Agency Occupational Health & Safety Bulletin.

jGj recommended Safe Cookware:

  1. Titanium (such as Saladmaster)

Titanium cookware is nonreactive, nonporous and nonallergic. It is also non-stick without the help of any kind of “coating”. This very light, incredibly strong metal resists scratching and denting, and is oven safe. It is also expensive. Consider the investment however if you are seriously in the market. It will last a lifetime.

  1. Enameled Cast Iron (such as Le Crueset)Screen shot 2014-10-19 at 11.54.55 PM

An enameled surface makes these pans safe and non-stick. Like with any heavy metal cookware, avoid scratching. Once the metal core is exposed, you are exposed to leaching. My favorite Le Crueset sauté pan is 25yrs. old! In fact, Le Crueset comes with a 99 year warranty.

 

  1. Ceramic Cookware (such as Xtrema)

Screen shot 2014-10-20 at 12.04.44 AMCeramic and Earthenware are made of clay which is free of heavy metals and synthetic polymers. Xtrema ceramic cookware goes from stovetop to oven to freezer and comes with a 50 year warranty. It is also affordable. You might also consider Silit cookware. The cookware surface is made of ultra-hard ceramic and is suitable for all kinds of stove tops, including induction.

Don’t confuse ceramic “coated” cookware with 100% ceramic cookware. Synthetic (polymer) “ceramic” coated, non-stick pans are just plastic lined metal. Save your money! They will not go the distance and more importantly, are not healthy to cook with.

 

  1. Stainless Steel (such as All Clad)Screen shot 2014-10-20 at 12.20.29 AM

Stainless steel is the least reactive (the reaction between food ions and metal ions) metal used in cookware – along with Titanium. Hardly non-stick, as I’m sure you have discovered, but stainless steel is relatively lightweight with good conductivity. Refrain from scouring stainless steel pans as scratching can cause leaching of chromium and nickel (most stainless steel is 18% chromium and 10% nickel). Coat with baking soda, salt or detergent for a day or so to lift the scorched food. Like cast iron, stainless steel can also be “seasoned” for better non-stick results and mitigated leaching.

 

  1. Green PanScreen shot 2014-10-20 at 12.01.02 AM

A non-stick pan coated with Thermolon (developed from minerals). These non-toxic pans can exceed temperatures of 450 degrees C without compromise. They also have a “Magneto” line compatible with induction surfaces.

 

  1. Anodized Aluminum (such as CalphalonScreen shot 2014-10-20 at 12.11.55 AM

If you like the weight and fast, even conductivity of aluminum, look for anodized aluminum as an alternative. Electro-chemically anodized aluminum not only protects from the metal leaching but is also non-stick and scratch resistant.

 

  1. Cast Iron (such as Lodge)

A “well seasoned” cast iron pan or Dutch oven has its place, but should not be used with acidic (tomato based) dishes. I do not recommend daily cast iron use however. The type of iron leached from cast iron is inorganic and not bioavailable (the extent to which a mineral or nutrient can be absorbed and used by the body). It is not the kind of iron that we get from eating spinach for instance. We don’t always eliminate this iron efficiently from our bodies and it gets stored in our organs. Gastrointestinal ailments, gall stones, hardening of the arteries and arthritis are some ailments attributed to excess inorganic iron. Remember, a “well seasoned” pan protects from excess leaching.

 

  1. Copper (such as Mauviel M’heritage)Screen shot 2014-10-20 at 12.08.04 AM

Copper cookware is on this list because of it’s tradition in fine cooking and it’s superb, even conductivity – with the caveat that only stainless steel lined products be considered. In addition to copper eradicating vitamins C, E and folic acid in vegetables, copper is toxic in large quantities. Beware when picking up pieces from a garage sale or second hand store as many older pieces are lined with nickel, another metal not a recommended for cooking.

 

 “There are no regulations on cookware in the US” – CMA (Cookware Manufacturing Association)

…so it would be wise to educate yourself on cooking surfaces.

 

 

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About the Author

Here at Jenny Green Jeans, by sharing success stories and easy-to- implement tips, I hope to inspire and empower you to continue to make sustainable choices in your life and watch how far the impact goes. Contact me with any questions or suggestions you may have.

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  1. Lndgblr@gmail.com' Linda Gabler says:

    Thanks for the tip Jen! I have good pans but there is this one go-to that I am running out to replace today!! He’s bad news. It’s so funny that I was just talking about this yesterday!

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