With the wide range of pots and pans to choose from, shopping for one is no easy task. Comparing aesthetics, durability, maintenance, as well as value for money and your budget, is not enough today. Since everyone is very health conscious and more knowledgeable about health issues, modern cooks would like to know what kind of materials their cookware is made of and whether it will affect their health. How safe is stainless steel, cast iron, or nonstick cookware, or even hard anodized nonstick? Will materials leach into food while cooking and affect our health?
Aluminum is light, a good conductor of heat, and inexpensive. However, the downside is that, both heat and acid. it will react with metal and you may find traces of aluminum in your food, especially during slow cooking of food. If you own aluminum pots, be sure not to use them to cook highly acidic or salty foods, such as tomatoes or sauerkraut, for long periods of time. It is also not recommended to store cooked foods in aluminum containers, especially those that are worn or pitted, as aluminum can still leach into the food. However, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services, very little aluminum is absorbed by the body from aluminum cookware.
Aluminum cookware that has been treated, resulting in a layer of aluminum oxide on its surface, is popularly known as hard anodized cookware. This type of cookware is durable, nonstick, scratch resistant, and will not react with food during cooking. It conducts heat well and is still more durable than stainless steel cookware, but it can be expensive.
Copper is a good conductor of heat and can easily adapt to changes in temperature. Meals that require precise temperature control cook best in copper cookware. Copper cookware comes with a thin layer of tin or stainless steel on its surface to prevent the copper from leaching into your food. Nickel is sometimes used as a plating material and can cause allergic reactions in people who are sensitive to this metal. Copper taken in large quantities can be dangerous to our health.
The stainless steel coating can last the life of the cookware, but the tin coating will need to be renewed periodically, as it can wear off with prolonged use and high temperatures. Acidic foods stored for long periods of time in copper cookware can result in traces of the metal from the coating leaching into the food. This can cause nausea and diarrhea. In addition to being difficult to use due to their heavy weight, they are also expensive and need to be polished regularly, not only to keep their surface shiny, but also to remove toxic verdigris deposits on their surface. Scrubbing will cause scratches.
Cast iron cookware is best used for slow cooking food as it cooks slowly and evenly. Maintenance is not easy, as it is heavy and oxidizes easily, if it is not properly and thoroughly dried after use. Iron leaches into food during cooking, causing an unpleasant taste, and it is absolutely not recommended for people with hemochromatosis (someone who has a tendency to build up iron in their blood). To create a non-stick surface for your iron cookware, season coat it with vegetable oil and place it in the oven for a few minutes.
Ceramic, glass, and enamel-coated cookware may appeal to those who are concerned about metal contamination of their cookware. Enamel is actually a substance made of glass, it is inert and does not react with food. Most of the health problems are related to the minor components used in its manufacture or design, among which is lead.
Glass-ceramic items, while poor conductors of heat, can retain heat very well. It is safe to use in the microwave and has no problem withstanding extreme changes in temperature. Glazed ceramic cookware, with its smooth finish, is easy to clean and, if manufactured under strict and effective production controls, can prevent lead leakage into food. It can be heated to a fairly high temperature. If storing food in ceramic containers results in a chalky gray residue on the glaze, this shows inferior quality and it is best not to use it for further cooking, to prevent lead from entering along with the food.
Stainless steel cookware is very popular due to its durability and low maintenance. Nickel and chromium leaching from non-stainless steel cookware is at an alarming unhealthy level. At most, nickel could cause some allergic reactions to people with said allergy.
Nonstick and Teflon-coated cookware is easy to clean and requires little cooking oil, appealing to the health-conscious. The downside is that it is easily scratched and damaged, especially when used with sharp-edged metal tools. The coatings can flake off after heavy use and end up in your food and then in your stomach. If an empty nonstick pan is heated to a high temperature of 350 degrees C or 650 degrees F, poisonous fumes can be released from the coating.
The newest addition to the nonstick cookware family is eco-friendly, eco-friendly nonstick cookware. This type of cookware comes with a nonstick surface that is free of toxic chemicals and uses more recycled materials, like riveted stay-cool stainless steel handles, made with 70 percent recycled stainless steel from the eco-friendly cookware set. Cuisinart.