Chipped or scratched pans: When pans get nicked or scratched, the surface coating is compromised, making it easier for potential toxins to leach into your food, Bradley says. “If a pan has the Teflon coating, and you use a metal utensil on it or knife, the minute you cut into it, you’re actually exposing more,” Bradley says. And stainless steel pans that are badly scratched can potentially expose you to chromium and nickel, which in higher amounts may cause health issues like dermatitis, especially in those with nickel sensitivity.
Older cookware: Some old or badly burned stainless steel pans may allow chemicals to seep into food as well. And if you’re scouring yard sales or second-hand stores for pans that are nonstick, beware that they may contain Teflon. In general, it’s best to opt for newer cookware when replacing a pan.
Nonstick pans that aren’t labeled PTFE- and PFOA-free: If a nonstick pan is made with the newer PTFE- and PFOA-free green materials, those are potentially better. A pan that just says “nonstick” and doesn’t give any kind of description? That’s likely one you don’t want.
Ceramic cookware: This has become increasingly popular as a safer cooking option and Bradley recommends this material to her patients. Alternatively, some cookware brands are nonstick, but made with Teflon-free coatings.
But it’s important to note that the research on these newer materials is new too, Minich says.
“Many manufacturers have turned to other substances to create their nonstick cookware, but it is unknown whether some of these substitutions are actually safer than PFOA,” Minich says. “We will just have to wait for more research before determining if they truly are safe.”
Cast iron: Generally considered one of the safer metals for cookware. “Although the iron may leach into food, it is generally at small amounts,” explains Minich. If, however, you have a condition called hemochromatosis (also known as iron overload), “that’s a situation where you wouldn’t want to cook in a cast iron pan,” Bradley says.
Stainless steel: Another generally safe option. But experts note that you should ideally refrain from cooking acidic foods, like tomato sauce, in these types of pans. “Stainless steel may have some heavy metals in it, such as nickel and chromium, that can leach, especially when cooking acidic foods,” Minich explains. Just make sure to look for a high-quality steel pan and avoid scratching the pan to cut down on risk. Josh Axe, doctor of chiropractic, certified doctor of natural medicine and clinical nutritionist, recommends purchasing a food-grade version of stainless steel pots and pans.
Glass: Bradley is a fan of using oven-safe glass containers to cook things like chicken or bake brownies. When it comes to cooking materials, “glass is one of the better, if not the best,” she says. Read the label and make sure you choose lead-free glass.
Keep in mind, there is “no perfect cookware,” Harris notes. And one way to minimize the risk of exposure to any of the above is to rotate what you cook with. “Have a couple of different types so you’re not using the same pan with the same exposure (such as to nickel or iron) and alternate cooking with them,” she suggests.
Originally Appeared Here