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Cooking at home is so much healthier than dining or ordering out. But there’s one way you could be sabotaging your health without even realizing it: by using unsafe cookware.

The chemicals and materials used in certain pots and pans might not be great for you, the environment or your food. That’s why it pays to know what your cookware is made of. For instance, pots and pans with a nonstick coating often arouse the most concern, mainly because they’re made with a polymer coating whose active ingredient is polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). This substance, more commonly known by the brand name Teflon, is more slippery than wet ice.

Studies have shown that at temperatures frequently used for cooking – about 400 to 500 degrees Fahrenheit – PTFE releases chemicals that might be unsafe for humans. In fact, experts have raised concerns over the use of Teflon and its link to cancer. Moreover, some studies even suggest that the chemicals used to create PTFE may be associated with high cholesterol levels, changes in liver enzymes and low infant birth weights.

Worse, the chemicals can even get into the water supply and linger for decades in the environment, hence their infamous nickname “forever chemicals.” Experts have also found that toxic particles and gases emitted by nonstick cookware are associated with hundreds, if not thousands, of pet bird deaths each year.

Other toxic cookware to avoid

Another material you should avoid in your cookware at all costs is aluminum. This material can leach into your food every time you cook with it. It can also accumulate inside your body with every exposure. This could eventually lead to metal toxicity, which can cause problems like chronic fatigue and brain fog.

Frequent exposure to high levels of aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease and breast cancer as well.

But it’s not just aluminum cookware you have to watch out for. Aluminum is also widely used in utensils, baking pans and implements like aluminum foil. Aluminum is also sometimes present in salt, herbs and spices.

You should also avoid cookware made of copper. Copper is often combined with nickel to make it stronger. But it’s this combination of metals that makes cookware made of copper dangerous to use. When heated together, copper and nickel release toxic fumes. Exposure to these fumes can severely increase your estrogen levels and raise your risk of cancer.

Heating copper cookware can also cause copper to leach into your food in amounts that are unsafe to consume.

If safety is your top priority, you should also avoid lead-based cookware. This cookware tends to be coated with ceramic or enamel to make it look appealing. However, that coating will start to chip after several months of daily use. When that happens, lead could end up in your food, which could then end up inside your body.

Lead poisoning is one of the most dangerous types of metal poisoning. Exposure to even low levels of lead may cause headaches and negatively affect brain development and reproductive health. In severe cases, lead poisoning can also lead to comatose or death. Young children are especially vulnerable to heavy metal toxicity.

Safest cookware to use

Worried about toxic chemicals in your kitchen? These five cookware options will keep you and your family safe, all while delivering the most delicious results for every dish.

  1. Glass – Glass cookware will never release anything toxic when heated. It’s also durable, environmentally friendly and doesn’t hold onto old flavors or smells. It’s not nonstick, but that’s a small price to pay for safe cookware.
  2. Cast iron – Cast iron cookware is something that will withstand the test of time. It heats very evenly and doesn’t leak anything toxic into your food, which makes it great for cooking at higher temperatures. It’s also oven-safe. Plus, some studies suggest that cooking in cast iron can help prevent iron deficiency.
  3. Enamel-coated cast iron – Enamel-coated cast iron cookware is easier to maintain than the non-coated type. It’s also non-toxic and doesn’t react to any food.
  4. 100 percent ceramic – This is one of the best and safest options around when it comes to cookware. It’s made with natural materials, is non-toxic and won’t chip or peel off. It’s also naturally non-stick. Plus, it can be washed in the dishwasher.
  5. Stainless steel – High-quality, stainless steel cookware is extremely durable. It’s also a great conductor for evenly cooking foods and is easy to maintain.

There are legitimate safety concerns with some cookware, particularly those made of copper, lead or aluminum and nonstick ones coated with toxic chemicals. This can make buying the right cookware feel overwhelming. But don’t fret. By doing your research, you can avoid toxic cookware and keep you and your family safe.


Originally posted:

Author: Joanne Washburn