On top of knowing what type of ingredients are best for preparing wholesome food, it also pays to know if the cookware you’re using is safe or not. On the bright side, there are now proven or guaranteed safe and non-toxic cookware on the market that extends not just to pans but also pots and every conceivable cookware you might need in your kitchen.
Are Pans Toxic?
Some metal pans can have some disadvantages, such as toxicity. For instance, aluminum cookware that is non-anodized can cause leaching of both lead and aluminum to food. This happens when the temperature is set high.
The chances of leaching increases when the food is very acidic. While it is unfortunate that non-anodized aluminum cookware can produce leaching, tests show that the leaching is minimal. However, it is still good to know that such cookware can increase your intake of metals. There is some metal intake whenever we cook, take note of this, so the primary effort is to reduce the intake as much as possible.
Another disadvantage of some lower-tier aluminum cookware is they are less durable, so if you want something that won’t warp easily or wear down with heavy use, we suggest getting something heavier, like cast iron.
Cast iron skillets are incredibly durable, and they also come in forms that have an additional nonstick layer for that extra layer of convenience if you like. Ceramic cookware is also becoming more popular as of late because they are very attractive and, for the most part, they are nonstick.
Do Pans Cause Cancer?
As you may already know, everything that we eat has an impact on our health. Whether the impact is short term or long term, it depends on the compounds finding their way into our food. Our choice of cookware also contributes to some risk of disease. So what kinds of pans pose a risk to human health?
- Aluminum – Aluminum cookware is one of the safest and most inert of all cookware. This type of cookware has not been shown to increase the risk for cancer of Alzheimer’s disease. While a link has been suggested before, no current studies are substantiating the risk. Therefore, until medicine tells us otherwise, we can say that aluminum is a good option for cookware.
- Cast iron – Cast-iron cookware appears to have a double-edged proposition for people. On the one hand, a study suggests that cooking in cast-iron cookware can be an effective intervention for addressing an iron deficiency in some communities. Some of the iron gets into the food and is absorbed when we eat the food.
However, there is a caveat – high levels of iron in the body have also been linked to a higher risk of cancer development. A second study proposes a link between excessive iron levels in the body and a higher risk of getting all kinds of cancer.
- Copper – Copper is necessary for small quantities in the body for the normal development and functioning of red blood cells. However, too much of this trace nutrient can quickly turn things awry, so we recommend using only copper cookware with a protective layer. The nonstick layer reduces the chances of the copper leaching into your food. If you have old copper cookware at home (and they are uncoated), it would be best to cook with them for only small amounts of time to reduce copper leaching altogether.
- Stainless steel – Stainless steel cookware is probably the safest of all cookware, having one of the best track records of them all. However, stainless steel is often plated with chromium or nickel, and one study suggests that the plating material can leach to your food. If you have metal sensitivities, your best bet would be to use something else in the kitchen, like aluminum cookware or ceramic cookware.
What Is The Safest Pans For Your Health?
The safest pans are made of stainless steel, ceramic, cast iron, and ceramic. However, don’t leave your health entirely to the material used to create the pans in your kitchen. Below are some tips for lowering the health risks with using any cookware:
- Abrasive cleaning pads and materials are a definite no-no when cleaning your pots and pans. Heavy-duty scouring pads can easily mar the metal’s surface and release small amounts of metal in the food. If these are not washed off completely, they will get into your food. Heavy-duty scouring pads are also known for stripping away the cookware’s nonstick coating, leaving the less durable metal underneath to corrode and potentially contaminate food.
- Preheating should be done either with low heat or medium heat. If you use nonstick cookware, always cook with lower heat at higher heat has been shown to produce unsavory compounds due to the nonstick coating reacting with too much heat.
- Genuine Teflon pans should not be tested to capacity in terms of heat. While genuine Teflon plans can withstand 260°C or 500°F, it’s important to keep the heat down to low or, at most, medium-high. This will ensure that the nonstick Teflon coating will remain stable during the cooking process and will not contaminate your food with odorless and tasteless toxins.
- Use silicone utensils when cooking with ceramic or nonstick pans and other cookware, as metal utensils can easily damage nonstick surfaces. No matter how careful you are, when a harder material rubs the surface of a softer material, you’re going to have trouble.
- Avoid using harsh chemicals like chlorine or bleach when cleaning nonstick pans or even Teflon. The reaction of nonstick surfaces with corrosive substances is not very well studied, so you must use gentler detergents when cleaning.
Should I Throw Out My Teflon Pans?
If your Teflon pans have seen better days and are warped and chipped in some areas, we recommend getting new Teflon pans to reduce metal ingestion risk. Additionally, older Teflon pans may have weaker nonstick surfaces producing toxins once heated to very high temperatures.