What is the Healthiest Cookware Material? – Stainless Steel?

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What is the Healthiest Cookware Material?

This is a serious passion of mine.  I want to know what is the healthiest cookware material?

I use the word “want” because I can not find any bullet proof answer on the internet.

I have found a couple of websites that are promising but I want scientific research.

A lot of these cookware companies have one thing in mind, you know the answer, it’s obviously money.

I am convinced that a high majority of these cookware companies do not do extensive scientific research on the cooking surfaces of their cookware.

This post will help give you the answers to the health side affects of cookware materials.

And what will make this post even more helpful is if you know of any scientific studies about cookware.

If so, then please let all of us know about them in the comment section below.

Thanks everyone!  Let’s really get after the scientific facts of the affects of cookware surfaces so that we can all do what’s best for our bodies.

What Chemicals can Contaminate Food?

Health hazards from common kitchen utensils range from a variety of nutritional imbalances to even serious diseases.

Chemical contamination in food can occur when toxic metals leach from pots and pans.

When acidic ingredients such as citrus fruits and tomatoes come in direct contact with such reactive cookware, they are likely to allow hazardous chemicals contaminating the contents of the pan.

   1. Cadmium

Cooking pots made up of glass and ceramics and their coatings may release heavy metals into the food, mainly Cadmium.

This toxic chemical is a popular carcinogen, or cancer-causing substance, as stated by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

It’s also known to cause chronic inflammation and related disorders such as cardiovascular illness, psoriasis, diabetes.

According to research, a close link has been found between cadmium toxicity and Alzheimer’s disease mortality.

Exposure to even low levels of cadmium can cause flu-like symptoms such as chills, muscle pain and fever, while long-term buildup can result in lung damage and diseases of the excretory and skeletal systems in the body. 

    2.  Teflon, PFOA & PFAS (Non-Stick Coated Cookware)

Initially, the non-stick coating industry started out with Teflon, but in recent days a variety of other options have been introduced including Silverstone, Tefal and Calphalon to name a few.

There are several reasons why non-stick Teflon coated cookware is considered the least safe.

First off, it releases toxic gases in the air when heated to high temperatures.

A study conducted by the Environmental Wellness Group concluded that non-stick pans are capable of reaching temperatures conducive to releasing noxious fumes after being on the stovetop for just two to five minutes.

Fire on Pot

Inhaling these hazardous gases can result in polymer fume fever, also known as ‘Teflon flu’, which comprises symptoms such as fever, chills and body ache. This is even known to cause permanent lung damage.

Until 2013, Teflon was manufactured using a toxin named PFOA, which is linked to a number of health conditions such as low birth weight in pregnant women, cancer, kidney and liver problems.

Even though several non-stick cookware brands claim to be PFOA-free and Teflon-free, the replacement chemicals may not be any safer.

Toxins including PFAS (poly- and perfluoroalkyl substance) are still used in non-stick cookware. PFAS are linked to adverse health impacts such as thyroid disease, high cholesterol, decreased fertility and tumor growth.

What Cookware is Not Safe?

The list below of cookware that is not safe, is becoming common knowledge at this point.

I just want to post the list of unsafe cookware here so that people who are not familiar with it can be aware of the unsafe cookware materials and surfaces.

If you want to skip down to what is the healthiest cookware material then by all means do.

If you are interested in which cookware is 100% not safe for you then keep reading.

  1. Aluminum
  2. Non-Stick Cookware

  3. Copper
  4. Iron (This isn’t Cast Iron)

Why is Aluminum Cookware Not Safe?

Recent health controversies have spawned new discussions regarding the potential health risks associated with Aluminum cookware.

The metal itself has been repeatedly placed in the top two-hundred health-jeopardizing toxins by the ATSDR (Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry) at the US department of health and human services.

In the past few years, more than a hundred studies have been conducted which showcase a noticeably close link between Aluminum and health issues.

The consensus from some scientific experts is that the amount of aluminum migrating into food through cookware is quite minute and less likely to be life-threatening.

Aluminum Pots and Pans

However, little by little the amount of the toxic metal in the bloodstream can easily reach an alarming level, leading to numerous health issues.

Several studies have concluded that the nervous system is a sensitive target of Aluminum toxicity.

It can also lead to bone diseases in children, as Aluminum is known to block the absorption of phosphate, a mineral essential for strong and healthy bones.

Additionally, a 2017 review in a renowned German medical journal found through research that people with higher levels of Aluminum in their bloodstream were more susceptible to memory loss, reduced attention span and learning issues, which could potentially lead to serious neurological diseases as well such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

 

Why is Non-Stick Cookware Not Safe?

Non-stick cookware is not safe due to the highly hazardous chemical lining that is used in the non-stick coating of the cookware.

I wrote about this in the above post in regards to Teflon, PFOA and PFA.

So please go read that section if you have any further questions.  No point in writing it twice on this post.  Thanks!

Why is Copper Cookware Not Safe?

Being an essential trace element that’s vital to health, Copper serves an important function in metabolic processes of the body.

However, like all essential elements, an excess of copper can lead to adverse health effects.

These include digestive problems such as stomach upset, nausea, diarrhea, all of which can even cause permanent tissue injury.

Similar to Aluminum, copper has also been associated with Alzheimer’s disease.

Research indicates that metals accumulated in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients include iron, aluminum and copper.

Copper Pots

 

Moreover, copper-induced toxicity mainly affects the liver, central nervous system and immunity towards infections.

Long-term copper buildup in the body can also cause genetic disorders such as Wilson disease, which is characterized by symptoms related to the brain and liver.

Brain-related symptoms include tremors and muscle stiffness whereas liver-related symptoms include yellowish skin and fluid buildup in the abdomen.

Increased copper levels in the blood have also been linked with a higher risk of cardiovascular diseases.

Why is Iron Cookware Not Safe?

Iron is another dietary mineral which may become hazardous if taken in excess.

While some consider the amount of iron that leaches into food through cookware negligible, iron toxicity can occur overtime when the levels of ‘free’ iron increase in the bloodstream.

Free iron is known to deteriorate body cells and causes fatal damage to internal organs such as the brain and liver if the mineral accumulates in large quantities.

Iron poisoning presents with early symptoms such as vomiting, stomach pain and nausea.

The term ‘iron overload’ is associated with a gradual buildup of iron and despite the fact that it’s rare, it can cause numerous health problems such as arthritis, diabetes and even heart failure.

Moreover, observational studies and clinical trials also prove that excessive levels of iron in the body can raise the risk of developing colon cancer. 

Why is Ceramic-Coated Cookware Not Safe?

Not to be confused with true ceramic cookware that is made with sand, ceramic-coated cookware is PFOA-free, according to the health and safety standards established by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA), many ceramic-coated pots manufactured overseas have been found to have high lead levels.

According to researchers, ceramic-coated cookware often contains a mixture of lead and cadmium, which are known to cause brain damage and certain types of cancer.

Having said that, cookware entirely made up of ceramic, or in other words true ceramic cookware, is made from quartz, clay and sand.

It contains no metal and is usually considered safe. However, glazed ceramic pans often contain toxic chemicals and traces of heavy metals as well.

Stainless steel cookware

What is the Safest and Healthiest Cookware?

So now comes the list of cookware that I have found to be the safest and healthiest cookware according to a couple of websites that I have looked at.

One of the sites being lead safe mama with her website right HERE.

Lead safe mama dives deep into researching about lead in kitchen products that she should rewrite the California 65 strictest US standard for lead and cadmium on products.

That does not mean that this list of cookware that I have come up with is by all means safe or the safest because there is little research to back it up.

However, there is some research to it and I can’t find much to disprove it or to say that this cookware is not safe or unhealthy.

BUT if you know something that I do not know then please write in the comment section below what research you have found and the internet link as well to the study of work you are referring to.

Ok, the list is this.

  1. 18/10 or 18/8 or 304 Grade Stainless Steel

  2. Cast Iron

  3. Titanium (Pure, Not Coated)

Click Here for our post on stainless steel and cast iron cookware. But our list is a very short list huh?  Yea, like I said, I am just scratching the surface on this subject.

However, I promise to do more research and listen to your comments and suggestions on this matter so that we all know what is truly the healthiest cookware material in the world.

Is Cast iron a Healthy Cookware material?

A majority of home cooks don’t consider leaching of iron a problem, since iron is a naturally essential mineral and isn’t directly toxic for the body.

Also, a vast majority of humans are iron deficient due to their poor diets.  Also, women are susceptible to low iron levels due to their menstruating cycles.

However, there’s an obviously healthier and safer way to incorporate iron as a nutrient into your diet than consuming leached iron from cast iron pans.

Cast iron is also prone to rust if left exposed and is easily reactive with acid.

Cast Iron Cookware

So acids from tomatoes and lemons tend to react with the pan surface when cooked over longer periods of time, causing iron to enter the pan contents.

For this reason, it’s advisable to avoid cooking acidic food using cast iron cookware as the reactivity may affect the taste and appearance of the final dish.

Having said that, the leaching of iron from cast iron cookware can be prevented by a simple method called seasoning.

This mainly involves applying a layer of cooking oil or any kind of edible fat to the cookware and heating it.

Upon heating, the liquid oil converts into a layer of solid shell. This method shields the iron in the cookware from rust and acts as a barrier to reduce reactivity with acids.

Is Titanium a Healthy Cookware Material?

Cookware manufactured from pure Titanium is definitely a safe choice since it’s non-toxic, chemically inert and resistant to acid degradation so the chances of a pure titanium pan leaching the metal into your food are quite slim.

Therefore, pure titanium cookware without any non-stick coating is listed among the safest varieties of cookware.

However, when we talk about non-stick surfaces in Titanium reinforced cookware, its safety depends largely upon the materials used in the coating to provide the non-stick property.

Hence, while purchasing a non-stick Titanium pan, the key is to make sure the coating is free from PFOA, nickel, heavy metals and other harmful substance.

Is Stainless Steel the Healthiest Cookware Material?

Okay, so this is our answer until somebody else can back up the answer with proven scientific evidence.

We believe high grades of stainless steel like 304, the 18/10 and the 18/8 are the healthiest cookware material.

Thanks to the multi-laying process during its manufacture, stainless steel is more stable and comparatively less prone to leaching.

According to research, the health risk of using steel cookware is much lesser than the risk posed by leaching of copper or aluminum from a pan made purely from the metal.

Even though stainless cookware is safe to use, it’s important to note that such pots and pans when damaged due to exposure to abrasive material, such as steel wool, can have a much higher chance of leaching nickel into the food, which can be potentially toxic.

Hence, the key is to maintain your stainless steel kitchenware properly, since it’s the healthier choice in our eyes, as compared to cast iron.

Cookware that Might Be Healthy

So there was some cookware that I came across and it looked to be safe and healthy to use but there was not any science backing it up by the company.

This company was a ceramic cookware company.

So Ceramic might be the safest cookware material but I need to do more research on it.

The other cookware that are in consideration is anodized aluminum cookware.

I know very little about these cookware materials and there affects on our food but I have heard some good things about them.

So I am sure there is a lot more to decipher here but I just wanted to get this post out here so that we could all talk about it and try and help each other.

 

Please, Please, Please leave a comment down below to help all of figure out what is the healthiest cookware material so that we can live safe and healthy lives as we get older.

If not, then I guess I might be looking at trying a raw vegan diet full time instead of mixing it into my diet sporadically throughout the week.

Thanks for reading everyone and I hope you have a great day! 🙂

Eric

Hello I'm Eric and I am striving to educate people about plant based diets. I enjoy bowling, gardening and nature in my free time. Marilyn and I hope you find our site helpful in learning about a proper Vegan diet.

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