It seems that every household purchase these days has been somehow complicated by health concerns, and cookware is no exception. Nonstick, aluminum and even copper cookware have become concerning in recent years because of their tendency to leave trace deposits of chemicals and metals in food.
We looked into popular types of cookware and listed what you should know, based on available data, clinical trials, and user reviews, to make an informed choice about the cookware you use to prepare food for your family.
How to choose
There are so many types of cookware that researching products can start to feel like an endless black hole of information. When you’re choosing a type of cookware, narrow it down by asking yourself the following questions:
- How does it need to be cleaned?
Cookware needs to be cleaned thoroughly each time to avoid bacteria buildup and lower the risk of foodborne illness. The “safest” cookware in the world can still make you sick if it isn’t cleaned correctly.
- Are there evidence-based health risks?
This is the big question and may vary according to your perspective and health-history. For people who have a health condition called hemochromatosis, cast iron isn’t a good option since the extra iron it adds to food could lead to too much iron in their system.
- Stainless steel cookware
Stainless steel is a metal alloy that typically contains iron, chrome, and nickel. It’s called “stainless” because it’s resistant to rust and corrosion, which makes it a great material to cook with.
Stainless steel tends to distribute heat evenly over its surface, making it especially great for griddle cooking and flat baking sheets.
As long as you soak stainless steel right away and always cook with a lubricant like cooking spray, it’s fairly easy to clean. It’s also inexpensive compared to some other materials.
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- Copper cookware
Copper cookware conducts heat well and contains copper, which similar to iron has nutritional value for people. Usually, this type of pan has a base made of another metal like stainless steel, with a copper coating over it.
5. Safety tips
Here are some food safety tips for cooking with any kind of cookware. These tips will minimize your exposure to any metals or materials that could be carried from your stove to your table.
*Don’t store food in the pots or pans where you’ve cooked it, unless you’re using glass or stone bakeware.
*Avoid using metal and hard utensils when you use your cookware, as they can scratch and compromise the surface of your pots and pans.
*Minimize the amount of time your food is in contact with metals from pots and pans.
*Use a small amount of lubricant, such as olive oil or coconut oil, with any type of cookware, to minimize the amount of invisible metal that sticks to your food.
*Clean pots and pans thoroughly after each use.
*Replace cookware made of aluminum or nonstick every 2 to 3 years or when gouges or scratches in the coating happen.