The Only Types of Cookware You Should Use
If you're worried about chemicals leaching into your food in your kitchen, stock up on the safest types of pots and pans.
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Cast iron cookware is an old-fashioned favorite for a reason. Not only is it super durable, but it’s also one of the safest options out there because it doesn’t contain harmful chemicals that could leach into food.
The one “ingredient” that may find its way into your meal (hint: It’s in the name!) may actually be of benefit: These pans may add extra iron to whatever you’re cooking, though no one knows exactly how much.
Another bonus: Cast iron is naturally nonstick once it’s “seasoned” properly with oil. So it requires little cooking oil or butter, slashing your fat intake. Here’s the best way to clean a cast iron skillet.
Titanium cookware sets are pricey, but they’re one of the safer nonstick varieties available. “Titanium is a safe metal,” says Dr. Robert Brown, author of the book “Toxic Home/Conscious Home: A Mindful Approach to Wellness at Home.” He adds: “The nonstick surface may be derived from silicone, a nonporous ceramic coating, titanium, or a combination.”
Find out what a professional chef thinks is the best cookware.
If you prefer to cook with aluminum pots and pans, be sure they’re anodized. “Anodized cookware has a thin layer of aluminum oxide on its surface that makes it more durable and less likely to flake off and corrode, making it the safest aluminum option,” says Brown.
Non-anodized aluminum products may introduce trace amounts of aluminum into food. It’s one of the grilling mistakes that can make your food toxic.
Copper cookware not only conducts heat well, but it’s also attractive, durable and free of harmful chemicals. Just steer clear if you have Wilson’s disease, a rare inherited disorder.
“People who have Wilson’s disease should avoid copper, a disease in which people cannot metabolize dietary copper, and consequently, it can accumulate in organs,” says Rosemary Trout, department head of Drexel University’s Culinary Arts & Food Science programs.
“Glass containers are excellent to use when baking, as long as one uses a heat-tolerant glass such as Pyrex,” says Brown. Just be sure not to heat food in glass on the stovetop — it could crack and even shatter. Be sure you’re not guilty of using your kitchen appliances wrong, either.
If you’re going to use stainless steel cookware, be sure to treat it well. This variety mixes metals such as nickel and chromium, which can migrate into food if your pan is damaged or worn, according to treehugger.com. Luckily, the amount is negligible and probably harmless unless you have certain allergies.
“If you or someone in your family has a known nickel allergy or suffers skin rashes due to allergic contact dermatitis, you should not prepare a meal with nickel-plated stainless steel cookware,” Brown says.
Nonstick (But Not All Kinds)
Nonstick pans got a bad rep when a popular coating used to make them — polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), commonly known as Teflon — was found to degrade at high temperatures. That released fine particles from the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) into the air, which could be potentially toxic when inhaled.
The good news: Teflon stopped using the problematic PFOE in 2013. So if you’re a nonstick lover, it’s probably OK to stay that way, as long as you’re using a pan manufactured after 2013 and that doesn’t contain PTFE or PFOA. Once you’ve got the right cookware, put it to good use with these brilliant kitchen organizing shortcuts that will save your sanity