Food is an essential part of our lives. Chances are, you either cook for yourself or you cook for someone else in your life. Cooking at home is typically healthier than going out to eat. You get to pick the recipe, the ingredients, and the method of cooking. But have you ever thought about the kind of pans you are using? You may be eating all the right foods, but non-stick pans could potentially be leaching toxins into you food, which totally botches your health related efforts. Now, the first thing that may pop into your mind when you think about non-stick is Teflon. Yes, teflon is widely used in the non-stick pan world, but there are others you need to look out for as well. Here is why:
Teflon: when a pot or pan is overheated, the Teflon lining starts to deteriorate. The chemical PFOA is released with the breakdown of Teflon, leaching into whatever food is cooking in the pan, as well as the air we breath. “Overheating” in this case is reaching 660 degrees Fahrenheit. You may be thinking, my gosh, my pans never get THAT hot. But it does, and quickly. If you have ever turned the dial on your stove to high, then your pot or pan has reached way above 660 degrees Fahrenheit. Scratches in the bottom of Teflon pots and pans is also a way PFOA can be released into the food.
Aluminum: always makes sure your aluminum cookware has a non-scratch coating. If you aluminum coated pan has scratches on it, it Research indicates that the amount of aluminum that leaches into food is minimal (1-2 mg), but aluminum is still toxic to the body. Buildup of aluminum in the body over time is associated with degenerative diseases such as Alzheimers.
Silicone: silicone is widely replacing Teflon in the non-stick world. So far, there has been no reported negative health side effects of cooking with silicone. However, there has been little to no research done on the subject. Instead of jumping directly to silicone options, consider choosing other pots and pans that are 100% ok for your health.
Now, lets get to the good stuff. Cast iron, stainless steel, enamel, and ceramic pots and pans all pass the health test. All of these materials have been heavily researched and do not leach toxins into your food. Cast iron skillets have proven to leach iron into food, but it is a usable form of iron, which is an essential mineral the body needs! To me, ceramic wins the vote for best cookware. Here is why:
Cast iron: these pots and pans are HEAVY. They may not seem that bad when you pick them up when they are empty, but pile meat and vegetables in there, and the weight adds up. Cast irons also do not have a non-stick property. Food easily attaches to the bottom of the pan, so you typically need to use more butter and/or oil when cooking. If you do not mind the extra scrubbing and could benefit from some extra iron in your diet, cast iron cookware is just what you need!
Stainless steel: these pots and pans are not nearly as heavy as cast iron, but they are still heavy. If you buy stainless steel cookware, make sure your pans have a small handle on the opposite side of the longer handle. This is helpful when transporting the pan to and from the stove. Like cast iron, stainless steel does not have a non-stick property. You would need to use more butter and/or oil to prevent food from sticking to the bottom while cooking.
Ceramic/enamel pots and pans: while these pots and pans are still heavy, they are lighter than both cast iron and stainless steel. They are also naturally non-stick, making cooking and cleaning easier! This is why I consider ceramic and enamel pots the best. Who doesn’t like an easy dinner-time clean up? The one down side to ceramic and enamel is their durability. If have klutzy tendencies and have been know to drop your pots and pan, this may not be the best option. Ceramic can break, forcing you to replace your pots and pans more often.