From the amateur home cook, to the professional chef, those who love to cook definitely have their preferences when it comes to cookware. And, since we have plenty of cookware options to choose from, is there one that is better than the other? And, what about safety concerns? Below, you’ll find safety tips to match your favorite cookware variety, which will allow you to cook with love as well as peace of mind.
Nonstick Cookware Safety – Both the cheapest of cookware options, as well as the one with most safety concern. Nonstick cookware is meant ONLY for low-heat cooking, which means temperatures of LESS than 350 degrees. If nonstick cookware is heated to temperatures above 350 degrees, the nonstick surface substances start to release a chemical called perfluorooctonoate. This harmful chemical agent has been linked to unwanted health conditions such as endocrine and fertility problems, immune system disruption, and liver disorders. It’s honestly best to avoid this type of cookware, but if this is all you have, remember…low and slow on the heat.
Aluminum Cookware Safety – Consumers question whether aluminum compoundsfrom their cookware will leach into their food and bodies. The answer is both ‘yes’ and ‘no’. Aluminum cookware can be safe, as long as it is further protected by a layer of safety coating on the base of the cookware. This safety coating is what will help protect the aluminum from leaching into foods. If, however, your aluminum cookware does not have this safety coating, or if your cookware is showing signs of surface degrading (flaking, peeling, chips, etc.), then it’s best to replace that piece of cookware, because aluminum accumulation in the body can lead to health concerns.
Copper Cookware Safety – Modern-day copper cookware is completely safe to use. HOWEVER, if you’ve inherited aunt Martha’s copper cookware collection from decades past, it’s best to use them for decorative purposes only, since research has proven that unlined copper cookware can allow the mineral to leach into foods, causing undesirable effects such as digestive upset, nausea and vomiting. Today’s copper pots and pans are safety lined with either tin or stainless steel, thus avoiding any mineral or surface leaching into foods.
Stainless Steel Cookware Safety – Probably one of the safest and longest lasting cookware you can buy, are those made with a good quality stainless steel. There are no chemical surface contaminants, or mineral leaching to be concerned with. In addition, good quality stainless steel cookware will last up to 20 years, unlike the less recommended nonstick cookware, whose surface often breaks down within 6 months to a year, sooner if used for high-heat cooking and heating.
Cast Iron Cookware Safety – Like stainless steel, cast iron cookware last for decades and poses no safety concerns. In fact, foods cooked in cast iron pots and pans absorb small amounts of iron during the cooking process, which is both health and necessary for the body to produce red blood cells, thereby preventing iron-deficiency and anemia. If you suffer from kidney disease or a blood disorder, talk to your doctor first before using cast iron cookware.
Bon Veggie Appetit!
Gina ‘The Veggie Goddess’ Matthews