The Ultimate Guide to Healthy Cookware & Bakeware: What to Use and What to Avoid

This is it – your ultimate guide to healthy cookware and bakeware. In today’s health-conscious world, we pay close attention to what we eat. However, the cookware we use can be just as important as the food itself. Did you know that the materials your pots and pans are made from can leach chemicals into your meals, impacting your health in subtle yet significant ways? For example, nonstick cookware pretty much always contains a manmade chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid, also known as PFOA or C8. According to the American Cancer Society, “PFOA has the potential to be a health concern because it can stay in the environment and in the human body for long periods of time. Studies have found that it is present worldwide at very low levels in just about everyone’s blood.” Studies have also presented a link between PFOA exposure and cancer development. 

With that, I wanted to create a guide to help you navigate how to choose healthy cookware and bakeware, highlighting the healthy options to use and the toxic ones to avoid.

Healthy Cookware to Use

Stainless Steel

    • Why It’s Healthy: Stainless steel is durable, non-reactive, and does not leach harmful chemicals into food. It’s perfect for browning and sautéing and can withstand high temperatures.
    • Best Uses: Ideal for cooking acidic foods like tomato sauce, boiling, and frying.


Cast Iron

    • Why It’s Healthy: When properly seasoned, cast iron provides a naturally non-stick surface without the use of harmful chemicals. It also fortifies your food with iron, a vital nutrient.
    • Best Uses: Excellent for searing, baking, and slow cooking. Ideal for dishes that require even heat distribution.

Glass

    • Why It’s Healthy: Completely non-toxic and non-reactive, glass cookware doesn’t leach chemicals into food. It’s safe for both the oven and microwave.
    • Best Uses: Ideal for baking, storing food, and microwave cooking.

Ceramic

    • Why It’s Healthy: Pure ceramic cookware is non-toxic and doesn’t leach chemicals into food. It’s naturally non-stick and can handle high temperatures.
    • Best Uses: Great for baking, roasting, and sautéing. Perfect for dishes that need even heat.

 

Toxic Cookware to Avoid

Non-Stick (Teflon) Cookware

    • Why It’s Toxic: Non-stick coatings like Teflon can release toxic fumes when overheated, and the chemicals (PFOA and PFOS) used in their production are linked to various health issues, including cancer and thyroid disease.
    • Health Risks: Potential exposure to toxic fumes and long-term health effects from chemical residues.

Aluminum Cookware

    • Why It’s Toxic: Uncoated aluminum can react with acidic foods, leaching aluminum into your meals. Studies have shown that chronic exposure to aluminum can increase the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease.
    • Health Risks: Potential for aluminum toxicity, which can affect the nervous system.

Copper Cookware (Unlined)

    • Why It’s Toxic: While copper cookware conducts heat well, unlined copper can leach into food, leading to copper toxicity. Most copper cookware is lined with another metal, often tin or stainless steel, to prevent this.
    • Health Risks: Risk of copper toxicity, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and liver damage.


Plastic Utensils and Cookware

    • Why It’s Toxic: Plastics can leach harmful chemicals, such as BPA and phthalates, into food, especially when heated. These chemicals are endocrine disruptors and have been linked to various health problems.
    • Health Risks: Exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals, which can affect hormonal balance and increase the risk of chronic diseases.


Other Tips for Choosing and Using Cookware

  • Check Labels: Look for cookware labeled as PFOA-free, lead-free, and cadmium-free.
  • Avoid Scratches: Damaged non-stick coatings can release harmful particles into food. Replace cookware if the surface is scratched or chipped.
  • Cook at Lower Temperatures: If you use non-stick cookware, avoid cooking at high temperatures to minimize the release of toxic fumes.
  • Hand Wash: Preserve the integrity of your cookware by hand washing instead of using a dishwasher, especially for non-stick and coated items.

Choosing the right cookware is a crucial step in crafting a healthy kitchen. By opting for stainless steel, cast iron, enameled cast iron, glass, and ceramic, you can significantly reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals.


Here’s a few of my go-to brands:

  • Stainless Steel: 360 Cookware (This is one of my all-time favorite stainless steel cookware & bakeware brands. 360 Cookware is made with the highest quality stainless steel, and is manufactured right here in the USA).
  • Cast Iron: Zwilling or Le Creuset
  • Glass: Libbey Glass
  • Ceramic: Xtrema

Happy cooking & baking!

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Jacqueline Genova, CHN

Jacqueline Genova, a certified holistic nutritionist, is passionate about wellness. She resorted to holistic approaches for healing to reverse some of her own health problems, and to help her mom battle cancer. She is a graduate of Babson College where she researched and wrote a thesis that supports a more integrative treatment approach, and is a strong advocate of incorporating complementary therapies into conventional treatment methods. As she discovered the healing powers of food as medicine, both through her own experience as well as in her research, she developed a desire to share what she learned with others. So, she started WellnStrong. She believes in a holistic approach to wellness that addresses the root causes of illness, not just the suppression of symptoms.