Choosing Non-Toxic Cookware

How much thought do you give to the food you eat? What about the type of water you drink? Skin products? Cookware?  All of these things have an impact on our health and well-being. I’ve been carefully working on cleaning up my act these last few years.  I switched out my skin and personal care products, became really conscious of my food and drink choices, but cookware? No, I didn’t really even think about it.  As I discovered though, the type of pots and pans we are using can actually make us sick.  It really got me thinking, with all the care I give to eating really healthy and detoxing my body, why would I cook my food in potentially harmful cookware? I began researching right away.  I quickly became overwhelmed by all of the buzz words out there, “green”, “clean”, and “healthy” were used in a general sense to describe cookware that for me didn’t really seem that healthy at all.  Below I outline some of the most popular types of cookware used and the potential health risks they pose.

Teflon (PTFE) Coated–  PFOA (Perfluorooctanoic Acid) is a chemical used in the process of making Teflon and is toxic to our bodies and the environment.  This chemical has been linked to some cancers. Teflon coatings can flake off and contaminate the food being cooked. Cooking in Teflon coated pans can also release toxins into the air that are particularly harmful to pets. A lot of cookware is now being advertised as “PFOA free”.

Stainless Steel- Stainless steel cookware contains other metals (such as nickel and chromium).  If pans become pitted or scratched, these metals can leach into the food as it cooks. When choosing stainless steel, opt for high quality/pharmaceutical grade stainless steel to reduce your risk of exposure to heavy metals.

Cast Iron- While a common fixture in many kitchens (including mine until recently), cast iron pans leach iron into the food as it cooks.  Iron encourages the formation of free radicals and has been associated with increase cancer risk.  While we need small amounts of iron to produce red blood cells, we often have too much iron in our bodies which we have no way of ridding ourselves of. Excess iron in tissues and organs has also been linked to infertility.

Ceramic Coated- Ceramic cookware has gained popularity recently because it conducts heat well and metal does not come into direct contact with the food as it cooks.  The ceramic coating is typically applied to an aluminum pan for better heat conduction.  If the coating becomes scratched or chipped, aluminum from these pans can leach into the food.  Aluminum has been found in the plaques on the brains of Alzheimer’s patients and is known to be associated with the disease. In addition, ceramic coated cookware is commonly glazed with a nonstick substance that may contain traces of lead or cadmium.  It is best to do a thorough amount of research if you are considering ceramic coated cookware.

Solid Ceramic (no coating)- This cookware is less popular and contains no applied coatings.  It is aluminum free and contains no chemicals.  There is no coating to chip or peel off. While they are durable, food can stick to the surface.

Glass- Visionware  is still on the market and a good option for those concerned about heavy metals and chemicals leaching into food.  Some of the reviews caution about the cookware shattering, but with proper care, glass cookware can be a healthy alternative.

So how to decide?  After weeks of researching I narrowed it down to 2 options. Saladmaster, a pharmaceutical grade titanium/stainless steel was at the top of my list.  I had seen a cooking demonstration on the HHAS cruise this past February and was impressed with the product.  In addition to the quality of the material, this cookware is meant to cook on low heat with no oil to optimize the flavor in vegetables.  The downside? Saladmaster cookware is very pricey.  For me, it was cost prohibitive.

My second option was Xtrema Ceramcor ceramic cookware.  I love how transparent the company is- putting toxicity and health front and center. All of their cookware has been through leaching tests and results are posted on their website. The cookware is 100% ceramic, no polymers, metals or chemicals.  In addition, the cookware is in adherence to the stringent California Prop 65 testing by the FDA.   I was surprised to find that this product was in such close alignment with what I was looking for and have been extremely happy with it so far.  Most importantly, I have the peace of mind  knowing that the food I’m cooking is clean.

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