Basic types of cookware: which is the healthiest?

Have you ever thought that it’s not only the food that you cook in your pan that matters, but the pan itself? Cooking is one thing, but you need the right equipment to perform it and the choices are endless and confusing out there.

Cookware has its types, with some being safer than others and if you think about it, you need to be informed because it’s the item you put your food in, in high temperatures. You need to pay attention if you want to keep it healthy, with a strong immune system and less intruders in your system.

It’s concerning though that few people know what to buy and which material is safe(r) to cook in. Since I recently had a kitchen clearance (lockdown, you see), I thought we should talk about this very important matter. Let’s take a look at the most common choices and what you should pick.

Ceramic is the safest choice you can make, as it’s non toxic, it can last for many years and it’s eco-friendly at the same time –as long as it’s 100% ceramic. Prefer white ceramic cookware instead of colored ones and throw away those that are worn out –this goes for every type of cookware. There’ s one catch though: they may not be completely non-sticky.

Aluminum cookware heats quickly and cooks food evenly, but if it is uncoated and non-anodized, it may leach metals like aluminum into your food. It’s also not that durable, as it can easily present corrosion and scratches, while it’s not suitable for non-stick cooking.

Cast iron is heavy and its great advantages are that it can be used in the oven as well and it will last a long time. Healhtwise, though, cast iron cookware can leach iron, which is a strong pro-oxidant and can contribute to iron overload for some individuals. It’s a good choice though, if you want to avoid cookware that use chemicals like perfluorooctanoic acid or PFOA, which is possibly carcinogenic to humans by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer.  It’s also non-stick and it cleans up easily, but needs maintenance and is not suitable with acidic and delicate foods.

Stainless steel is considered durable and resistant, while it cleans easily, but high quality means pricey and if it’s low quality, there’s always the risk of leaching, as it is comprised of an alloy containing nickel and chromium.

Non stick is all those cookware that may be easy, affordable and convenient, as their non-stick surface makes it easier to cook and clean, but they can be dangerous. The reason is that they use PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene, known as Teflon to most of us) or silicon which is linked to health problems. At normal cooking temperatures, PTFE-coated cookware releases various gases and chemicals that present mild to severe toxicity. PFOA(perfluorooctanoic acid) was the first material used decades ago, but it’s no longer used due to toxicity concerns. It has been replaced with other chemicals such as GenX, but these new alternatives are probably not that “innocent” presenting similar toxicity. Non-stick cookware is also not suitable for cooking in high temperatures as it can emit toxic fumes and it’s not a durable choice as it can easily lose its non-stick quality over time.