Safe and Healthy Cookware

Does it surprise you to know that what you cook your food in may be making you sick
If you’ve never given much thought to your pots and pans it might be time to rethink and get some sustainable cookware that is safe and healthy – something that uses natural elements.   Recent research shows indications that cooking in pans coated with a non stick lining  may result in higher cholesterol levels. Synthetic compounds called Perfluorochemicals (PFCs) which include perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctanesulfonate (PFOS) are used in the coatings of pots and pans to prevent foods sticking without the use of oils – supposed to be healthier right?   They are also used in quite a number of products besides cookware.  They coat the lining of microwaveable popcorn bags, are used for water resistant and stain resistant furniture, carpets and clothing.

A recent study from the University of West Virginia

looked at 12,476 school age children and found that children with the highest levels of PFOA and PFOS also had significantly higher cholesterol levels in comparison to the children with the lowest levels.  The study was the result of a class action lawsuit due to contamination of the water supply from the mid Ohio River.  Although their study could not provide conclusive research, a single study such as this rarely can, but based on their data, there seems to be a link between cholesterol levels and levels of PFCs.  The authors mention that animal studies have shown that these compounds have some effects in the liver.  This may be the mechanism by which PFCs influence cholesterol.   The researchers state that more research is warranted. 

PFCs are everywhere

and if any of us were tested for them it is very likely that they would be found in our body.  Although the chemicals were found at very high levels in the mid Ohio Valley, it is worrying that based on animal studies, the researchers report that lower levels similar to the levels usually found in all areas were enough to be associated with increased cholesterol levels.

But increased cholesterol is not the only concern with these PFCs

They are able to affect unborn babies because they can cross the placenta.  They are found in umbilical cords, and in breast milk. PFCs increase the time it takes to become pregnant and also affects the quality of sperm in young men according to a study done in 2009.  This is of interest because fertility in young men is declining and PFAAs are a suspect in this dilemma.  Associations have also been made between PFOS and tumors.


So where does that leave us with our Teflon pans and microwaveable popcorn bags?

This is an excellent opportunity to err on the side of caution.  We live in a world so full of pollutants and we are not even yet aware of all the consequences to our health.  There are safer options for cooking.

If you or your family are popcorn lovers, why not invest in a reusable microwaveable popcorn bowl, or an air popper.  There are lots of healthy advantages to making your own popcorn. 

For your pots and pans,

  • cast iron
  • anodized aluminum
  • clay bake ware
  • soap stone pots
  • stainless steel

are all good options which you could consider if you are looking for new cookware.  Some may be better than others and I’ll be talking about those soon.


Perfluroooctanoic Acid, Perfluorooctanesulfonate, and Serum Lipids in Children and Adolescents: Results from the C8 Healthy Project
Stephanie J. Frisbee; Anoop Shankar; Sarah S. Knox; Kyle Steenland; David A. Savitz; Tony Fletcher; Alan M. Ducatman Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2010;164(9):860-869.

Do Perfluoroalkyl Compounds Impair Human Semen Quality?  

Ulla Nordström; Joensen Rossana Bossi; Henrik Leffers; Allan Astrup Jensen; Niels E. Skakkebæk; Niels Jørgensen Environmental Health Perspectives. Volume 117 Number 6 June 2

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