When it comes to being healthy and reducing your risk of breast cancer, the pots and pans you cook with are just as important as the foods you cook. That’s because small amounts of the material your cookware is made of can make their way into the food you eat. There are growing concerns about the effects of the chemicals in cookware, and with good reason. Here are some facts you should know in order to ensure you’re cooking safely:
Cooking with cast iron adds iron to your diet, which can be good for premenopausal women. Cast iron can be used for almost any kind of baking and cooking, except deep-frying or boiling water. And after it’s properly seasoned, cast iron is non-stick!
Enameled cast iron is coated with a glaze that makes pans easier to clean and blocks iron from transferring to food. Avoid using older enameled cast iron because it might contain harmful chemicals, such as lead.
When non-stick Teflon pans are overheated, they release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) as a gas. PFOA has been shown to cause cancer and developmental problems in lab animals. If you use Teflon pans, make sure they’re not scratched or dented and your kitchen is well ventilated. Most importantly, cook at medium or low heat and never preheat an empty pan.
Stainless steel pots and pans are made from iron and other metals, such as nickel and chromium. Very small amounts of these metals can get into food, but they aren’t considered harmful, except for those who are allergic to nickel.
Very small amounts of aluminum can transfer into food when you cook with aluminum cookware, but it’s not considered harmful. Since they’re so light, aluminum pans can be easier to dent.
Anodized aluminum cookware is non-reactive, meaning no aluminum transfers from the cookware to food. Anodized aluminum is also stick resistant because the metal is nonporous.
Copper pots must be lined with another metal. This protective layer prevents too much copper from transferring to food, which can be poisonous. Make sure no copper shows through the protective layer.
Other non-stick cookware options are available on the market, but according to Consumer Reports, some are made with particles that haven’t been tested for long-term safety. No matter which pots or pans you choose to use, inspect them regularly for dents, scratches, or other wear. If a pot or pan is damaged, it’s a good idea to replace it!