Non-stick pans gained popularity because they’re so easy to clean. Unfortunately, this convenience is paid by sacrificing health and safety.
In fact, non-stick cookware is most often coated with Teflon, also known as polytetrafluoroetheylene, a carcinogen.
In 2006, 90% of all aluminum cookware sold was coated with this toxic substance (1).
Other harmful health effects of the chemical include:
- Elevated cholesterol,
- Abnormal thyroid hormone levels
- Liver inflammation
- Weakened immune system
- Developmental problems
When heated during the cooking process, Teflon releases toxic fumes which can cause flu-like symptoms. These fumes can kill a bird in just a few seconds (2).
To test these claims, the Environment Working Group heated non-stick cookware on a conventional stove top to see if it would trigger toxic fumes.
In just 2-5 minutes, the surface of the cookware exceeded the temperature at which the coating began to emit toxic particles and gases.
Safety officials were so concerned that 8 large cookware companies were forced to phase Teflon out from their production line in 2015.
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative, here are five cookware materials to try.
1. Cast Iron
Cast iron is the most time-tested, nearly indestructible and inexpensive cookware on the market. It’s also versatile as it can go on the stovetop and into the oven.
You can also use it to sautee, fry, braise and stew but it’s best not to use it for boiling or steaming. Best of all, your can easily clean it by using a scrub brush and hot, soapy water.
The only downside is that cast iron tends to be heavy and must be fully dried after washing to avoid rust. However, companies like “Le Creuset” also offer enameled & rust-proof cast iron cookware.