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Healthy Cookware Options

We take the time to cook organic foods that are free from chemicals and additives. We try to avoid all toxins and environmental pollutants. Yet, cookware can also add to our toxic states. This is why it is important to seek out the healthiest cookware to preserve the toxin-free and chemical-free states of our foods. While the safety of cookware types remains controversial, there are some ways to help ensure you’re properly using the safest cookware out there.

As a rule of thumb, purchase quality products from reputable companies usually within the USA, Canada or a few other select countries. Choose wisely for your health. Purchasing cookware from foreign countries is not recommended as they may not adhere to strict regulations and their products can contain high levels of toxic chemicals and metals.

Below is a list of the top six safest types of cookware. Purchase and utilize these types to eliminate contact with harmful or synthetic chemicals that could pollute your food or the air.

Safer Cookware Types:

  1. Ceramic Cookware and Bakeware
    • Brands like: X-trema Cookware (Xtrema originates from a maker who used to work for Corningware. Dr. Mercola is a proponent of this cookware line as they regularly test for metals and toxicity). Xtrema cookware is earth-friendly and made with environmentally safe materials. www.xtrema.com

      Also, there is the Mercola Healthy chef Ceramic cookware http://cookware.mercola.com/

      1. Pros
        • No leaching
        • Non-reactive and non-toxic
        • No synthetic metals, chemicals, or toxins
        • X-trema company tests for lead and cadmium
        • All testing results are shared on the Xtrema (Ceramcor) website
        • Pure ceramic and non-porous so it won’t absorb flavors or odors
        • Composed of natural minerals
        • Doesn’t need “seasoning”- they are good to go for cooking
        • Great for acidic foods and foods cooked for a long time as there is no risk of leaching
        • Can withstand thermal shock (temperature extremes)
        • “Healthy ceramic cooking” concept
      2. Cons
        • More expensive
        • Heavier
        • Breaks easily
        • Note: Only purchase 100% ceramic (non-synthetic) ware made in the USA, Canada or approved countries. This eliminates any risk of lead, cadmium or synthetic chemical material in foreign-made products.
        • Note: Xtrema cookware is made in Asia and the products are handmade with a history of ceramic cookware made in Asia dating back over 8000 years.
  1. Lead-free Stoneware
    • Brands like: Le Creuset stoneware or on Amazon try: https://amzn.to/318FbWM

      1. Pros
        • Chemically stable: won’t release chemicals or metals
        • Non-toxic and safe
        • Holds heat well
        • Natural non-stick finish (after first ten or so times of cooking)
        • Doesn’t absorb odors due to non-porous nature
      2. Cons
        • Can break easy
        • Heavy
        • Pricier
        • Can become dark-brown from cooking (meaning its “well-seasoned”, which is okay)
        • Note: Must purchase from USA or Canada as “lead-free”. Brands from China typically contain lead.
  1. Cast Iron Cookware
    • Brands like: Le Creuset has enameled cast iron pans or on Amazon you can find Lodge Cast Iron cookware products: https://amzn.to/2MEOHeV

      1. Pros
        • Great for cooking and retaining heat
        • Can cook on the stove or in the oven safely
        • Works great on electric and gas stoves, as well as oven
        • Durable
        • Works well once “seasoned”
      2. Cons
        • There are iron residues, which some people need to avoid (can especially accumulate toxic levels of iron easily in certain populations of people).
        • Additionally, if looking for more iron in your diet, you can’t rely on this cookware. Studies are still researching the extent of bioavailability of iron that is leached from cast iron pans1.
        • At the same time, a “seasoned” cast iron pan will help to prevent any appreciable leaching.
        • Leaches more iron into acidic foods than non-acidic foods
        • Heavy product
        • Foods can stick more easily if pans are not “well-seasoned”
        • It is a poor conductor of heat and can actually result in unequal heat distribution unless properly pre-heated
  1. Lead –free and Cadmium-free Glass Cookware
    • Brands like: Visions glass cookware (Glassware tempered with ceramic ware to make durable. Made in France. From the makers of Corningware. ) https://amzn.to/2OOuBSa

      1. Pros
        • Easily cleaned
        • Can withstand fairly high temperatures
        • Non-porous surface so doesn’t absorb food flavors or stains
        • Relatively inexpensive
        • Doesn’t leach anything into food
        • Good for water-based cooking
        • No metals
      2. Cons
        • Source your glassware from strictly regulated countries like the USA, France and Canada that limit pigments, lead or cadmium from being used in the production of this cookware.
        • Can shatter
        • Can overcook food easily
        • Better for baking than cooking
        • Note: Must verify with the manufacturer that your glass product is lead-free.
  1. Corningware (A type of ceramic and glass ware)
    • Brands like: Corningware. This is a unique combination Pyroceram cookware consists of glass and ceramic that is resistant to temperature extremes.

      1. Pros
        • Can go straight from cold to hot temperatures
        • Resistant to thermal shock
        • Non-porous surface so it doesn’t absorb food flavors or stains
        • Doesn’t leach into food
        • Relatively inexpensive
        • Easily cleaned
        • It is certified lead-free
      2. Cons
        • Not as versatile for cooking
        • More popular as baking cookware
  1. Stainless Steel Cookware
    • Brands like: Salad Master. This is the best type of stainless steel cookware to utilize. It is highly regulated and they use only the safest manufacturing methods to ensure a high quality product. It is 316 stainless steel grade meaning its one of the safest types (see below in the “cons” section for series information). It is also the most resistant to acids, bases, salts and enzymes to help make the food safer and more nutritious. https://saladmaster.com/Our-Products/Features-and-Benefits#details

      Also, Calphalon and Cuisinart aim to produce safe cookware work and ensure there is no unnecessary leakage of metals based on their “tri-ply” formulations. Tri-ply stainless steel means that the inner aluminum core is encapsulated between two levels of stainless steel to preserve it safely and to aid in heat distribution during cooking. See Amazon for various products and pricing: https://amzn.to/2BafZ7F

      1. Pros
        • Non-reactive and non-toxic
        • Durable products
        • Able to withstand very high temperatures
        • Affordable
        • Safe
        • Effective high heat transmission
        • Brands like Salad Master are highly resistant to acids, alkaline material and chlorides (salt) because they are a 316 type of steel.
      2. Cons
        • They are not non-stick. Need to be “seasoned” and even then there will be some residual “sticking” to the pan.
        • They are not always uniform conductors of heat depending on thickness of pan, etc.
        • Not all cookware deemed stainless steel is safe.
        • Some have high levels of chromium and nickel, as well as aluminum and manganese, to stabilize it and keep it from rusting. Try to seek out good quality pans and avoid cooking acidic dishes with this cookware to prevent leaching.
        • Mildly reactive cookware. Nickel is one of the metals that can leach the most.
        • Resistant to corrosion and staining due to the chromium content.
        • If your pans become scratched, be aware because they can leach metals (aluminum or copper) from their core.
        • Not all steel is created equal. According to the NSF standards there are 3 types of stainless steel used in food equipment: 200, 300 or 400 series. The 200 series is the lowest grade and is made with manganese rather than nickel, which can pose health problems. Avoid this series. The 300 series is the most durable yet it has a high level of nickel in it (also the most common series). The 400 series could be the safest for those with nickel allergies as it has the lowest level of nickel. It is primarily used in mixing bowls and kitchen utensils. The 400 series is “ferritic” type and is magnetic.
        • Most of the stainless steel cookware will record its series on the bottom of the pan. If it says 18/8 and 18/10, it’s a part of the 300 series. If it says 18/0, it’s the 400 series. 18/10 indicates it is 18% chromium and 10% nickel.
        • Note: Typically, tri-ply stainless steel cookware contains 18/10 percentages and is a part of the 300 series. This is also the safest formulation to use as the tri-ply type helps to prevent leaching.
        • Note: If you’re going to use stainless steel cookware, look for the 300 or 400 series to avoid manganese toxicity. Also, be sure to avoid cooking with highly acidic or salty foods. Lastly, don’t cook foods for an extended period of time with stainless steel. Opt for a ceramic or glass option for that.
        • Always choose a stainless steel cookware brand that is high in quality and reliability.

Ways to minimize your risk when cooking:

  1. Never use any of the toxic cookware options (listed below).
  2. Do not use badly scratched stainless steel cookware
  3. Do not cook or store acidic foods in stainless steel cookware for extended periods of time. Be sure to use a reputable and safe brand of stainless steel cookware such as Salad Master products.
  4. If you are allergic to nickel do not use nickel-containing cookware.
  5. Only purchase glass and ceramic ware from trusted, and regulated companies within countries like the US and Canada (or a reputable company).
  6. Do not use plastic containers for food storage or cooking. Ever.
  7. Do your research on the best cookware types and brands for your cooking needs

Toxic cookware to AVOID:

Aluminum products: Aluminum is a toxic metal linked to numerous health disorders including, most notably, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, in which elevated levels of this metal are clinically exhibited2. This metal leaches easily and in great amounts when exposed to acidic foods.

-Anodized aluminum cookware: This cookware is formed by a process that exposes aluminum cookware to acid and electricity to form a tough, non-stick coating made of aluminum oxide that forms on top of the aluminum. Avoid it.

Copper cookware: High levels of copper and exposure to copper over a continual period of time have been shown to be detrimental to health. There is a vast amount of research linking copper toxicity to neurodegenerative orders3 and its involvement with negative health outcomes like cancer4.

-Teflon or chemical coated non-stick products: These products equate to high levels of chemicals so be sure to avoid at all costs. Non-stick pans typically have a PTFE (polytetrafluoroethylene) surface that is a source of perfluorooctanoic acid 

 (PFOA), which is dangerous to health. Humans do not metabolize PFOA so toxicity is a major concern5. Additionally, when this type of cookware is overheated it also releases toxic fumes and pollutants. This detrimental type of cookware can get scratched easily and release these chemical coating particles into cooked food. Any non-stick chemical cookware should be eliminated because it is harmful to human health and the environment.

Glossary of Terms:

  • Anodization: An electrochemical process (electricity and acid) that converts a metal (i.e. aluminum) surface to a corrosion-resistant surface (i.e. aluminum oxide). Not good.
  • Seasoning: To cook a new a new pan with oil or fat over high-temperature heat. The fat and oil become polymerized (stick together). This helps to ensure any holes get sealed with the oil and it helps to create a natural, non-stick surface. Used often with cast-iron pans. Seasoning of pans is a technique utilized widely by professional chefs to prevent sticking.
  • Thermal Shock: The product is capable of withstanding a sudden temperature change.

If you are concerned about your health and well-being, we’ve got you covered! Schedule a FREE call with a Drs. Wolfson health coach and get the guidance you need. Just click HERE and pick your coach. 

References:

  1. Sharieff et al., 2008: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17935647
  2. Virk et al., 2015: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26401698
  3. Giampiertro et al., 2018: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29323501
  4. Cox et al., 2001: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11359142/
  5. Rodriguez et al., 2009: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19429408

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