We will all agree that cooking is essential in our day-to-day lives. The food we eat is important in determining our overall health and wellbeing. It is no wonder that we are all focused on eating the right foods and hitting the gym.
Quick question though, did you ever think that your cookware can end up harming your health? If your answer is, ‘No’ then you would be happy to know that most people have limited or no knowledge of the fact that their cookware could be toxic. Just how toxic the cookware is, is dependent on the material used, the temperature, and the care you give it.
To give you a better picture of what is what when it comes to cookware, let’s take a closer look at the different types of cookware in the market and the dangers they pose.
Aluminum cookware is perhaps the most commonly found in any kitchen. It’s attributable to the fact that aluminum is one of the most common elements on earth and thus readily available, light in weight, durable and malleable.
In the recent past, studies for and against the use of aluminum cookware have made waves. Those claiming the toxicity of the metal base their arguments on the high amounts of the metal that have been found in Alzheimer’s patients as well as patient with bone and liver disorders.
Aluminum cookware allows for the leaching of the metal into foods when used to cook acidic foods, or under high temperatures. The increase in ingested aluminum that results from the leaching of the metal is suspected to interfere with both neurological and physiological functions.
The opposing camp, however, claims that the body does a good job when it comes to ridding itself of aluminum. Since our bodies do not need this metal, we absorb very little of it. The few that we consume is passed out either through feces or urine.
The level of toxicity of this metal is, therefore, dependent not only on the level of leaching but also on an individual’s ability to effectively rid their body of the metal.
Copper cookware adds a sense of timelessness to your kitchen. Its rustic brown color is a definite plus when it comes to providing that classical, timeless vibe. Another plus when it comes to using copper is its ability to heat up quickly and evenly.
However, it cannot be used as it is. The lightweight of the metal necessitates that it be coated with nickel to make it sturdy enough to use for cooking. The trouble with doing so is that the nickel coating wears off after a while and makes its way into our food.
Nickel is a micronutrient that is necessary for our bodies but in excess can be hazardous to one’s health. Prolonged ingestion of nickel could lead to gastrointestinal distress, neurological problems as well as sperm abnormalities.
Toxicity from nickel aside, copper is a culprit of being toxic to the body when in excess. Copper toxicity as a result of ingestion has thus far been associated with liver damage as well as the development of ulcers.
#3. Cast Iron
Cast iron cookware shares copper’s timelessness. This cookware gained popularity due to its ability to increase the iron content in the foods cooked in it. Simply put, for some people, the leaching of iron into meals is a plus.
Others, however, may beg to differ. The leaching of iron into the food and the resultant increased levels of iron in the body could lead to organ failure.
It’s not all doom and gloom though. If you want the dated look of the cast iron in your kitchen and do not mind the weight of cast iron, then you always have the option of seasoning it. A well-seasoned cast-iron pot has all the benefits that come with a non-stick pan but none of the toxicity.
#4. Non-stick Pots and Pans
Having food stuck to the bottom of the pan has to be one of the most annoying things to anyone who loves to cook. You not only waste bits of your food, but you incur the hustle of having to scrub (and potentially damage) your cookware.
The industry came up with non-stick cookware, to solve this issue. These are usually coated with fluoropolymers that release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) when they are subjected to heat.
Dangers of PFOA have not exclusively been defined, but studies have found it to be metabolized by the human body and have been associated with the development of tumors in the pancreas, testes, and liver of rats.
Cooking using glass utensils is considered amongst the safest ways of cooking. Glass, while fragile, has an elegant touch to it. Furthermore, it is easy to clean and care.
The glass on its own is not known to leach any toxic substances into the food. However, they still have the potential to be harmful to your health. Glassware and ceramic cookware often have a component of lead in them whose purpose is to make them more sturdy and heat resistant.
Lead poisoning has been a severe health concern over the years. In babies, lead poisoning will cause delayed development. In adults, an accumulation of lead can cause changes in behavior, gastrointestinal problems, as well as behavioral changes.
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We all want a beautiful kitchen with beautiful utensils to match. However, it may be time to think more about the health effects of having some of these items in the kitchen. Now that you know a bit about the pros and cons of using the different types of cookware in regards to your health, is it time you took a keener interest in the items that you have in your kitchen?
Remember to always do your research before buying any cookware. Take a close look at the materials used to manufacture the different brands. If you know of safe alternatives, we would love to hear about them.
Ana Miller is a creative writer. Her topics of interest and expertise range from psychology to all sorts of disciplines such as science and news.