When it comes to healthy eating, there are so many things to think about to ensure you are getting the most nutrition from your food.  Shopping at farmers markets, buying organic and non-GMO produce, choosing grassfed meats and wild caught fish are just a few of those things.   However, there is something you may not have given much thought to and that is your cookware.  Could your pots and pans actually be toxic?  If you are cooking with Teflon, the answer is yes!

We live in an age of convenience and one such convenience is nonstick cookware.  I have to admit, this seemed like the greatest invention ever.  No more burnt food and super easy to clean.  The sad truth is that Teflon is actually very toxic.  It contains poly and perfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances which release perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA).   I know this sounds like a foreign language, but these substances turn into a carcinogen when heated and that carcinogen is going straight into your food!  This is especially true if the Teflon coating has cracks or chips in it.  Honestly, if you have had your pans for any length of time, they most certainly have some cracks.

So, what is the best cookware to use?   For starters, the two materials you definitely want to avoid are aluminum and Teflon.   As I mentioned earlier, Teflon contains PFAS and PFOA’s which are toxic.  Research on aluminum cookware has been linked to central nervous system diseases such as ALS and Alzheimer’s.   The good news is that there are some great options that will keep you and your food healthy.

1.  Cast iron – This type of cookware has been around for centuries.  It can be used on the stovetop or in the oven.  It heats evenly and can be used at high temperatures.  Cast iron cookware can also be a natural source of iron.

2.  Stainless Steel – True, high quality stainless steel can be used at high temperatures without leaching.  Make sure you buy food grade stainless steel.  You want to look for 304, 316 and 430.  Stainless steel should not be cleaned with abrasive cleaners as this will damage the lining.

3.  Glass –  It doesn’t get much safer than glass.  Glass is non-toxic, durable and environmentally safe.

4.  Copper – The best choice here is copper on the outside and food grade stainless steel on the inside.  It is possible to get too much copper in your food if you are using a solid copper pot or pan.

5.  Greenpan  – This is a higher end brand that makes non-toxic, non-stick cookware.   It is heat resistant up to 450 degrees.

I am definitely a one pot cook and I have always been a huge fan of cast iron skillets.  This was my “go to” skillet for pretty much everything.  Unfortunately, when I had to replace my stove a few years ago I was told I could no longer use my cast iron skillet on the new glass top stove.  That was a sad day for sure!  Since then I have experimented with different skillets.  I used a glass skillet for a while and that worked well, but I missed the ease of a nonstick pan.  Eventually, I ventured into the world of “green pans.”  I really like these because you get the convenience of a non-stick pan without the toxic Teflon.  As with most things, you get what you pay for so spend the extra bucks and buy a good brand.  I have tried lots of different green pans and my favorite right now is the Greenpan (http://www.greenpan.us).  The non-stick layer is actually ceramic that is made from sand.  Not only is the pan “green,” the company strives to be eco friendly in their production.

If you are like me, you have accumulated lots of cookware over the years.  So, let’s do a little spring cleaning this weekend.  Pull out all of your pots and pans and toss the aluminum and Teflon ones asap!  Survey what is left and, if need be, grab your 20% coupon for Bed, Bath and Beyond and go shopping!   I think they have a great selection, and with the coupon, you can get a really nice skillet.  Treat yourself….your health is worth it!

Do you have a favorite type of cookware?  Leave a comment – I would love to hear what it is.