Safe and Healthy Cookware Options

By Darren Stehle

In our modern world it’s becoming more difficult to live a healthy life. Healthy cookware won’t solve this problem but it’s a place to start.

The air we breath is polluted. The water we drink is fluoridated and contains other chemicals like bleach. The food we eat is contaminated with chemicals, preservatives and fewer natural nutrients than 50-100 hundred years ago. We are more affected by personal stress than ever before. All of these factors negatively impact our health.

We can make healthier choices like purchasing organic food, filtering our own water and drinking it out of safe water bottles or glass, avoiding processed foods, using healthy cookware, and taking transit, cycling or walking, instead of driving.

It’s like the example of surrounding yourself with happy, motivated people if you want to grow, be inspired, and do great things. Unhappy people love company. You can’t avoid them, but you can limit your exposure to their negative effects.

Toss the Teflon

Healthy Cookware: Xtrema Ceramic Non-Scratch Skillet

Xtrema Ceramic Non-Scratch Skillet

Recently a couple of health bloggers I follow wrote about safe and healthy cookware. They’ve done the research and I would like to share their recommendations with you. If you’ve got any non-stick teflon pans in your home, listen up!

Healthy Cookware — Least Healthy to the ‘Safest’

  1. Teflon Coated
  2. Aluminum
  3. Copper
  4. Stainless Steel
  5. Cast-Iron and Stoneware
  6. Ceramic, Glass, and Enamel

According to the Wellness Mama, ceramic, glass, and enamel are healthy cookware unless they were manufactured with lead. You need to read product labels to know if this is kitchenware you want to cook with.

There is some transfer of metals into food from stainless steel and cast-iron, however the associated detrimental health affects are less than that of teflon or aluminum — you should probably eliminate these two evils from your kitchen.

For more safe and neutral cookware and bakeware, read this article by the Wellness Mama.

Ways to Reduce Negative Health Issues Associated with Cookware

  • If you’re on a budget use a small variety of the healhiest cookware you can afford. For example, cast-iron is ‘safe’ but if it’s the only pan you use on a daily basis, you could cause a build up of iron in your body.
  • Take care when cleaning and cooking so as not to damage the surface of the cookware, thus releasing harmful particles into your food.
  • Extreme temperatures (notably on the stovetop) that cause a pan to smoke, e.g. cast-iron, has a damaging effect on the safety and quality of the cookware.
  • Use silicon, wood or bamboo spatulas and stir sticks to minimize scratching the cooking surface.
  • Read the cookware directions for care and cleaning. Don’t assume that you can use a plastic scrubber to clean, e.g. it might be ok for glass, but not for ceramic. Immediately drying some cookware preserves the quality and safety of the material, e.g. you should immediately dry a cast-iron pan after washing. I put mine on a hot stovetop jet for about 30 seconds to help evaporate any liquid and eliminate the possibility of rust.
    Beef and Parsnip Slow Cooker Stew ready to cook in a healthy cookware ceramic crock pot.

    Beef and Parsnip Slow Cooker Stew ready to cook

A few months ago I got a slow cooker. Knowing much of the above information, and with a bit of research, I decided on the Hamilton Beach IntelliTime™ 6 Quart Slow Cooker. This model meets FDA heavy metal requirements as detailed on the Hamilton Beach website:

Does the crock contain lead?

Hamilton Beach specifications applicable to all slow cookers and their components (including the earthenware crocks) prohibits the product from containing any measurable amounts of lead. Furthermore, the factories that manufacture the earthenware crocks for Hamilton Beach are certified ceramic production facilities whose ceramic ware is deemed to satisfy FDA heavy metal requirements. Hamilton Beach takes all reasonable steps to ensure that the earthenware crocks accompanying our slow cookers provide safe and satisfactory service to our consumers.

While that doesn’t definitively say, ‘no lead’, at least they are satisfying FDA requirements.

Safe & Healthy Ceramic Cookware?

Straight up I do not own and have not tried the Xtrema Ceramic Cookware line recommended by the Wellness Mama, but after reviewing their site I’m impressed. The cookware seems to satisfy a number of health and kitchen productivity requirements:

  • easy to clean
  • can be used on the stovetop, in the oven, microwave, kept in the fridge, etc.
  • 100% ceramic, non-scratch, non-reactive and non-toxic
  • each piece is hand-made by artisans and takes 22-days to complete!

The cookware is not cheap, but upon review of how they make their product, the cost is justified. I will probably start with their 10″ skillet since that piece would be a great addition to my kitchen.

Other Healthy Non-Stick Frying Pan Options

Healthy Cookware: Green Earth Frying Pan

For a less expense alternative to Xtrema (a 10″ Xtrema skillet retails for $130 USD), my colleague the Food Coach, Tzabia Siegel, did some research into non-stick coatings and she recommends the Green Earth Frying Pan by Ozeri, with Smooth Ceramic Non-Stick Coating (100% PTFE and PFOA Free). She also offers some great advice on how to clean and care for this pan.

Cook and eat healthy to be well!

Darren

  • Nice article Darren. I have never really thought about this before.

    For example in the shop where I work, all of us eat rice with an assortment of whatever you want to put on yours. Tuna, sardines, Cheetos, wasabi peas, vegetables, soy sauce, etc. This has been the practice for over 25 years. One of my coworkers has eaten this rice mixture until last year. That’s 24 years of this break food staple. For all those years the rice was cooked in a rice cooker with an aluminum cooking pot.

    While the link between aluminum and Alzheimers is still debatable. Given there is a history of Alzheimers in his family, I imagine he would have replaced that rice cooker with one with a stainless steel bowl a long time ago.

    I did long ago get rid of my teflon pans due to the fact the fumes they give off if overheated are toxic to parrots and we used to own one. I suppose if it kills birds outright, it’s probably not that good for us people either!

    • Hi Jim – yes, I read an interesting article a while ago questioning the association between aluminum and Alzheimer’s. I think the issue is still metal leaching into the food and the harm that can do to our system (Alzheimer’s or not).
      Wow – I had no idea that teflon fumes could kill parrots. If that isn’t reason enough to replace these pans I don’t know what is!

      • We purchased the Saladmaster cookware recently and the pot test they do blew my mind. It’s expensive stuff, but amazing food. The pan is made with titanium which is super hard and doesn’t get into your food. The food tastes so good I am impressed. Don’t regret spending the money, not to mention the cook temp, times, and waterless cooking of all foods leaves the nutrients in the food.

        One other place there is a ton of aluminum is in deodorant. Almost ever antiperspirant is full of aluminum and we absorb it through our skin…so I have read.