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Healthy Cookware Ė Part 1

 
As we start off the Spring in a healthy way, part of what we look at is what we are putting into our bodies.  We have all heard about the toxins believed to be in some cookware. 
 
This month Iíll discuss the 4 most forms of cookware considered to be causing most of the toxicity issues   Next issue Iíll look at healthier options for your kitchen.  I am choosing not to offer specific brand information in this article, in the next one, I will offer some options for you.
 
There are two main areas to look at with chemicals in cookware.  First, does it scratch easily (which puts it into your food) and second, does it leech at certain heats and off-gas or directly go into your food. 

 

As I go through these cookware options, notice these topics described.

 
Four forms of cookware that are thought to leach chemicals (listed in order of severity of toxic leeching and off-gassing)
 
Considered most toxic - Teflon-coated pans:
 
Non-stick pots and pans are those coated with a synthetic polymer called polytetrafluoroetheylene (PTFE).  PTFE is also known as Teflon.

 

Teflon has been proven to offgas toxic particules at heats from 446įF.  At higher heats at and above 680įF teflon was shown to release six or more toxic gases (two of these known carcinogens).

 

Dupont, maker of Teflon, states on their site not to cook above 500įF or use Teflon for broiling or Ďcooking at temperatures typically used to broil foodí.
 

Now this is just off-gassing, another issue with Teflon is that it scratches very easily and the particles go into our food.

 

The Environmental Working Group is just one organization that has numerous studies regarding this on their site as well including on that proves the chemicals leaching can cause thyroid, liver and immune challenges for those who consume and inhale certain Teflon chemicals. 

 

If you are a believer that these chemicals cause harm, itís time to take this one off our shelves.

 

If you are going to use Teflon and are concerned about chemicals, be very careful not to scratch it (and toss it if you do) and keep the heat below 446 degrees.

 

Aluminum

 

First, itís important to know more than half of the cookware available is aluminum based.  Itís cheap, light and easy to mold.  Itís also potentially toxic.

 

Aluminum has gotten a bad rap in the past ten years for good reason.  If it get's into your body at certain levels itís toxic and very hard to get out of the brain.  From a cooking perspective, like Teflon, it leaches in cooking and also, highly acidic foods have been shown to break it down. 

 

From a health perspective, the FDA has linked aluminum to many ailments including alzheimer's disease and liver problems.  The FDA knows aluminum is a neurotoxin to the brain:

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22575537

 

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23261179

 

This one isnít only one to remove the cookware; did you know aluminum cans can also leach if filled with tomato sauce, lemon juice or other acidic foods?  So along with cooking, it's best not to store food in aluminum or aluminum foil.

 

Again, we will look at other options In next monthís newsletter but for now, do your best to purchase acidic foods in glass bottles (we will discuss BPA as well later this year) and try not to cook acidic foods in aluminum.  (I recently posted a facebook article on this as well as options for glass with no BPA's.)

 

Anodized Aluminum

 

Some people are now looking at this new option, anodized aluminum, as a potentially safer alternative to the above.

 

Anodized aluminum is treated with what we are told is a non-reactive layer of aluminum through a process called aluminum oxidation.  We are told then that through this process the aluminum canít leach into food and the products are nearly scratch-resistant.

 

Yet, we really don't have much research on this one and the fact is, this is still a form of aluminum, even if it may be slightly more durable than aluminum alone.  Also, scratching these pans will still leach chemicals.

 

Silicone

 

Silicone came on the market more recently as a synthetic rubber that binds silicon and oxygen.

 

Recently I had an interesting week where one colleague emailed me that she was thrilled by her new silicone cooking utensils and another person emailing me the woes of silicone. 

 

Fact is, the jury is still out and studies are going both ways.  Also, much of the concern isn't about the silicone breaking down in heat but it breaking off into food.  We do need to additionally consider the use of other materials in the making of silicone cooking and baking tools such as dyes and plastics.

 

So if you wish to use silicon cookware, here are a few thoughts:  before you buy it, move it around a bit, and see if it looks like it would break down and/or particles fall away.  Also, don't leave a silicone spoon or other utensil in a meal that is hot or cooking as there are studies of it leaching.  While it can withstand high heat up to about 428 degrees, don't push it.  I've seen silicone burn (and I've smelled it.)  Also, if you are not certain about using silicone yet, you may wish to use the spatulas and spoons and skip the bake ware for now.

 

Hope this was helpful in looking at the 4 types of cookware that are causing concerns today.  Check back next month with options for healthy cookware in your home!

 

Hugs,

 

Jen

 

 

 

 

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