Note: this post has been updated in December 2020.
What are the healthy cookware options available
If you have been trying to lose weight or simply want to eat healthier, you may be looking for healthy cookware options. Each of the following types of cookware has their advantages but they may also have disadvantages. After reading about them, consider which one fits your needs the best. There are many healthy cookware Options available. See Ideas To Improve Your Nutrition
Sebastian Beaton has written one of the best and most through articles that I have read on healthy cookware options and is referenced below.
With so much conflicting information available, it can be difficult to distinguish scientific fact from questionable marketing. While many companies make wonderful, quality cookware, there is little incentive for any cookware manufacturer to be upfront about potential dangers of new cooking technologies they stand to profit from.
Our cookware choices impact more than just the outcome of our favorite recipes. Poor choices can be detrimental to our own health, the wellbeing of pets and loved ones, and the environment. At TKJ, we don’t just want cooking to be tasty: we want it to be healthful and sustainable.
This doesn’t just mean opting for organic or counting calories–we like decadent dishes, too! It means purchasing and properly using safe cooking vessels.
We believe there is a safe and affordable option for everyone, regardless of your price point.
This guide provides a comprehensive look at cookware options from a health-conscious perspective. Whether you’re ready to make your next cookware purchase or need to know if what you own is safe for a particular use, our Ultimate Guide to Healthy Cookware is sure to contain the information you need. – via The ultimate guide to safe & healthy cookware
Ceramic – Best
Ceramic is perhaps the newest cookware on the block. Ceramic cookware is new age cookware that was introduced to the market 10 years ago. Ceramic cookware came about as a result of the dangers related to Teflon in frying pans. Teflon (“PFTE”) is a chemical coating that is used in traditional cookware to keep food from sticking. – via 10 Best Ceramic Cookware Reviews
Cast Iron cookware is naturally non-stick. Using it also adds iron to your diet. You can find this cookware pre-seasoned and with an enamel coating. It is good to be aware, however, that enameled or glazed cookware that is made outside of the United States may not be made with the same safety standards as that made in this country.
When choosing iron cookware, look for products with a fine, smooth surface, which will take better to seasoning. Avoid pots and pans with pits, ridges, cracks, chips, seams and jagged edges. Good quality cast iron is uniformly gray and the same color inside and out.
– via Cooking with Cast-Iron?
A great article from MyOpenCountry.com on cast iron cookware discusses myths about cast iron, seasoning techniques, cooking tips, cleaning tricks, and the best and worst foods for your cast iron skillet. – via THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO COOKING WITH CAST IRON
Even though some reports state aluminum reacts with foods and is not healthy, there have been no scientific studies to prove this. However, if you do not want to take a chance, you can use anodized aluminum that is harder and will not react with foods.
Concerns with aluminum cookware come from the fact that measurable amounts of aluminum can migrate from the pot into the food. Several research studies have confirmed the migration of aluminum from conventional aluminum cookware at a level of concern for our health. – via Is anodized aluminum cookware better than non-anodized?
Stainless steel is a combination of metals, including carbon, chromium, nickel and/or manganese. Because stainless steel contains a mix of these metals, some lower quality stainless steel cookware may discharge a small amount of nickel into your food from the steel.
Stainless steel is considered as being one of the safest of all cooking materials, stainless steel is non-reactive and will not corrode. It is also easy to clean, which makes it a choice for many homeowners. It is important to note, however, that if harsh abrasives are used, it could damage the surface of the cookware and leach nickel into foods. If someone in your family is allergic to nickel, you may not want to use this type of cookware. – via Is Cooking with stainless steel safe?
If you are considering a low-fat diet, bamboo cookware is one to consider. Bamboo is renewable and eco-friendly as well as adding a touch of flavor to whatever you cook. The biggest problem with bamboo cookware is that it can only be used for steaming.
Bamboo steamers and paddles as well as wooden spoons, utensils, chopsticks, and crockery are non-reactive and considered to have no harmful effects on food during cooking or meal preparation. Bamboo steamers are also dishwasher safe. For food preparation, bamboo cutting boards are a sustainable alternative to traditional wooden cutting boards. Bamboo is an earth-friendly, renewable resource, and one of the fastest growing resources on earth. It is not a wood but a type of grass that needs no replanting. It grows rapidly without chemical fertilizers and can be harvested in just 3-5 years. – via Bamboo
Another type of cookware good for low-fat cooking is terra cotta. This is great for low-temperature cooking or for steaming. You would soak the cookware in water, place your food into the cookware and then bake it in a low-temperature oven until the terra cotta is dry.
The clay itself is pure and nutrient-rich and there are absolutely NO additives used and they’re unglazed. Miriams Earthen Cookware is the only company in the market today to test the complete composition of our clay and Certify & Guarantee that it is 100% FREE of any and all contaminants including Lead, Cadmium, Arsenic, feldspar, petalite, or any other heavy metals & toxins. See test results. It’s so pure you can eat it! And our promise is to keep it this way. When choosing the healthiest cookware for your family don’t settle for cheaper imitations that use many different additives and cannot show you the complete composition of their raw material. Also, MEC is the only cookware made with ZERO negative impact on the environment. – via Pure Clay Cookware
Copper has long been considered safe because it conducts heat well and can be used for a number of different tasks. The better choice, however, is to use copper cookware that has a thin outer layer of tin. – via Pure Clay Cookware
Copper cookware is available in three different material configurations – bare, tinned, and stainless steel lined. – via Copper guide and review
Teflon – maybe not a good choice
Even though you may already have them, it is better not to use cookware with a non-stick coating. Teflon has been around since 1946, and many newer cookware brands use this form of a coating. The reason why most experts in healthy cookware do not like to use this type of cookware is that the coating gives off the chemical perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which has been found to cause cancer in animals.
This is particularly a problem if the non-stick cookware is heated to temperatures over 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The coating can also be scratched and lose its non-stickiness, and you are limited with the type of utensils you can use when cooking with it.
“Teflon cookware is probably the all-time worst of all cookware. Johns Hopkins Medical Center says the chemical PFOA, used in manufacturing Teflon, is now found in the bloodstreams of nearly everyone in the U.S. Early studies suggest that high PFOA blood levels in humans are linked with cancer, high cholesterol levels, thyroid disease and reduced fertility. Teflon surfaces break down and end up in your food and when heated to high temperatures, emit fumes which cause flu-like symptoms in humans (AKA: polymer fume fever) and can be fatal to birds. Manufacturers have to eliminate PFOA from all cooking products by the year 2015.
Aluminum cookware is one of the most common cookware to use, but can be very toxic as this heavy metal is absorbed into all food cooked in it. The aluminum released into foods during cooking ends up in your body. Excess aluminum has been associated with estrogen-driven cancers and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Copper cookware is the choice of many because it conducts heat so well. Copper cookware releases copper into the food to be eaten and usually also has nickel in the coating, which is another toxic heavy metal and can be very allergenic.
Cast iron cookware is very durable but iron is constantly leaching into the food, changing the enzymes in it. Iron can reach toxic levels in the body with regular use and becomes a pro-oxidant which causes stress, oxidation and eventually disease.
Ceramic, enamel, and glass cookware may be manufactured with lead which can give the product color uniformity. The level of lead in each product is set by the United States – FDA and California Prop 65 – Never cook with anything labeled “for decoration only.
Stainless steel cookware is made from a metal alloy consisting of mostly iron and chromium along with differing percentages of molybdenum, nickel, titanium, copper and vanadium. But even stainless steel allows other metals to leach into the foods. The principal elements in stainless that have negative effects on our health are iron, chromium and nickel.” – via 121: Cookware Problems: Understanding What’s Hiding in Most Cookware
Summary of cookware options
Despite all the innovations in modern cookware, including non-stick surfaces and anodized aluminum, we believe that your healthiest cookware choices are those that use classic materials such as stainless steel and cast iron. What you want to look for when evaluating the healthfulness of cookware is whether the material that it is made from carries much toxic risk and how likely the cookware materials are to leach into the food during cooking. Using these two criteria, we’ll explore why stainless steel and cast iron are your best choices. But first, let’s review why aluminum, copper, and non-stick cookware are types we choose not to use. – via Pure Clay Cookware
You may be able to find other healthy cookware options but you may have to pay a premium price for them. The above cookware is normally easy to find and should be affordable.
Get help on your plant-based journey
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