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By Michèle Wolff B.H.Sc Naturopathy, Dip. Colonics and Author of ‘Digestive Solutions’

What many of us don’t know is that our kitchen is not just filled with dangers such as knives and open flames but also accessories and cooking utensils.

If you use Teflon-coated and aluminium pans, as well as the microwave and high heat frying, even if you’re looking healthy foods you may be damaging your health.

What Is Doing You Harm?

Aluminium: The metal-food reaction with aluminium can produce aluminium salts that are absorbed into your body and may be associated with impaired motor coordination and chronic inflammation which can result in a number of health conditions. Aluminium pans get thinner over time, and the only place for it to go is in your food.

TIP: Buy baking paper to wrap your beetroot, fish or potato or put your food in a glass casserole dish.

Teflon Coated Vessels: Like aluminium, Teflon gets scratched off into the food. The fumes can also be toxic when cooking in these pans at high temperatures. Never leave Teflon pans on the stove unattended; the toxicity becomes worse with overcooked or overheated foods. Although these non-stick pans are popular there are alternatives that do not harm your health.

TIP: Look for chemical free cookware, such as pans with an ecolon coating which is ecofriendly and chemical free, such as neoflam.

Microwave: Although seen as a speedy and convenient option, microwaves release electromagnetic waves that cause friction and heat to your food. Nutrient damage also occurs and there is a concern with plastics coming into contact with food.

TIP: Never, ever, ever put metal into a microwave; toxic fumes are created which can cause serious injury.

It is also advised not to microwave breast milk as it loses lysozyme, (an enzyme with antiseptic action) antibodies (essential for immunity) and can foster the growth of pathogenic bacteria.

Barbeque: There is a danger of cooking meats at high temperatures which uses the production of Heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Research has show that these are the carcinogenic chemicals formed when amino acids (from protein) and creatine (a chemical found in muscle) react at high temperatures.

TIP: Avoid medium-well or well-done foods to minimise health risk.

High temperature cooking: Grilling or pan-frying can still cause high amounts of HCAs.

TIP: Frying is fine, as long as you use the right oils. Cook with ghee, coconut oil or rice bran oil. Coconut oil is slower to oxidise and is not chemically altered when heated at a high temperature. Coconut oil is the best oil to use when stir-frying as the nutrients in the foods are not compromised by the oxidising oil.

Antioxidants The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture published a study done on the effects of antioxidants in different methods of cooking. In varying amounts, there was a reduction of antioxidants in all methods of cooking:

Microwaving: 74-79% loss

Boiling: 66% loss

Pressure cooking: 47% loss

Ideally, it is best to cook in stainless steel, ceramic or glass pans and to cook at low temperatures to conserve nutrition.

Michèle Wolff is a leading health practitioner and a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and nurse, owner of Ultimate Detox Solutions www.detoxspecialist.com.au. Her new book ‘Digestive Solutions – 101 Proven Methods to Solve Your Tummy Problems Naturally’ is available from bookstores and good online booksellers. Visit www.digestivesolutions.com.au RRP $39.95

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