The Best Non Toxic Cookware in Australia?
Not all cookware is created equal, and it's now been scientifically proven beyond doubt that some low quality cookware can have a disastrous impact on a person's health. Heavy metals such as Cadmium, Nickel, Aluminium and Lead are routinely used in the construction of cookwares and are amongst the most toxic. The reason we need to exercise caution here, is because our food is coming in to direct contact with these metals, sometimes at extremely high temperatures. This can lead to these toxins leaching into the foods we are eating, especially when using low quality cookware.
What's the big deal about heavy metals in my food?
As it turns out, it's a very big deal. You see when heavy metals are ingested as food, they get assimilated into the body as if they were nutrients, and they can replace essential nutrients in cells and disrupt their normal function. This may not sound like a big deal, but when you consider you are effectively displacing essential minerals in the human body with toxic metals, it becomes clear that it's something that is best avoided.
Which are the healthiest types of cookware?
Ceramic Nonstick cookwareHigh Quality Ceramic Nonstick cookware is a great alternative to PTFE (chemical also known as teflon). These metal pans use a silicon coating, basically made from sand, that prevents sticking. These are suitable for cooking at higher temperatures, unlike PTFE. If considering this type of cookware, it pays to be aware that quality is very important. Certain low quality brands have been found to leach lead into their products, and it pays to check that your supplier adheres to strict safety data and testing. We recommend Neolfam Cookwares for this reason, as Australia's best 100% toxin free cookware. Neoflam Cookware is PTFE, PFOA, cadmium & lead free, so you can rest assured no nasties are making their way in to your food during the cooking process.
Cast iron cookwareThis type of cookware can last for decades and is certainly the most durable of any cookware. Cast Iron shouldn't leach into your food, unless the pans start to rust. However, even rusted cast iron and be rescued and reasoned. This is a popular choice among women that don't mind a bit of extra iron in their meals. Be warned though cast iron cookware is extremely heavy to lift!
Stainless SteelStainless steel is a relatively safe and easily accessible metal used in cooking. If you are considering buying stainless steel, it is wise to consider that the metal is constructed using some chromium and nickel. While this is generally not a problem, if you are frequently using your pans at very high temperatures, cooking acidic foods, or cooking for very long durations it may be something to consider. If considering stainless steel, look for the number 18 and see what comes after it. For instance, you might see 18/0, 18/8 or 18/10. The first number (18) represents chromium and the second represents nickel in stainless steel alloy. So if you are trying to lower your nickel exposure, the lower the second number, the better.
In essence, enamel is a form of glass. Enamelled cookware is most often cast iron with an enamel coating. Recently concerns have been raised that the enamel coating was potentially leaching lead into food. While this is a concern, tests seem to indicate that it's only an issue for cheaper, low quality brands. Top line brands, such as Le Creuset have published their own testing data showing that there is no trace of lead or cadmium in their products. If you are considering this type of cookware, it definitely pays to purchase a quality brand that adheres to strict safety data and testing.
Which Pots and Pans Are the Most Toxic?
It is considered certain that aluminium is potentially cell and neurotoxic. While the exact mechanism of aluminium toxicity isn't understood, it is understood that enzyme activity may be disrupted, mitochondrial function may be impaired and it may also produce oxidative stress in the human body.
In light of these peer reviewed studies, and given the myriad of other cookware options available, we don't recommend that our customers use Aluminium for their cooking needs.
Teflon, Non-Stick, PFOA, and PTFE
Traditional non-stick pans are coated with compounds such as perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) or polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE). Over time it became apparent that these compounds were not safe when heated at high temperatures, as people started developing "teflon flu". We don't yet know the long term consequences of Teflon, so we suggest that our customers avoid any cookware containing teflon, PFOA, PTFE or traditional non-stick.
Lead and Cadmium
This one goes without saying. Lead and cadmium in particular are extremely toxic. Lead has been linked with reproductive harm and learning disabilities. Cadmium is extremely toxic, even in very low doses. It is one of the most toxic substances on planet earth in fact. Cadmium and lead can letch from certain glazes and coatings in cookwares, and it is for this reason that it pays to be extremely careful about which brand of cookware you decide to purchase. If in doubt, always go with an approved brand that specialised in non toxic cookware, such as Neoflam. This is often easier than trying to contact manufacturers in regards to a specific product line or pan.
Healthy Cookware: The devil is in the details
To summarise, there is a range of different materials available that our cookwares can be made from, and as usual, the devil is in the details. To be on the safe side, always ask your supplier what type of material your cookware is made from, and if there is any safety data or testing available. This is a foolproof method to ensure that your cookware isn’t leaching nasties into your meals. If in doubt you can stick with the recommended guidelines above, and avoid aluminium and anything that is non stick or teflon coated. Remember that the cooking duration and intensity of heat will also play a factor in how well your cookware is able to handle your cooking requirements. As a general rule you should try and avoid any high intensity cooking anyway, since in most cases it will damage and reduce the nutrients in your food that you are trying to assimilate. Slow cooking and gentle cooking methods are recommended for this reason. If you found this article useful, or have your own thoughts on the matter we’d love to hear from you, so please drop us a message.