Nutritionist, Herbalist, Ayurvedic practitioner, Closed Colonic Hydrotherapist, Lecturer, Speaker, Author, Registered Nurse - helping the community for over 30 years.

What you cook with is important for your health.


It is important for your digestive system not to have to deal with added toxins. Your body has to deal with enough from daily toxins in the modern world e.g. car fumes, industry fumes, off gassing from carpets, furniture and building materials, toxic foods and drinks.

So have a look around your kitchen at the cookware you have and the plates and utensils you use and ask yourself, is it safe? Am I treating myself like a precious object?

Creative and constructive cooking requires good basic tools. There are different types of cookware that have advantages and disadvantages. You need to get rid of some of them as they are not good for you and put a strain on your digestion as you consume the leaching toxins. Your liver does a great job of detoxifying every day but can only cope with so much. A sluggish liver leads to sluggish digestion, bloating, constipation and even nausea.

Cooking vessels

Aluminium – These pans were used before stainless steel for many years. Acidic foods like oranges, tomatoes and vinegars and salty foods cause leaching of metals like aluminium as it is soft and highly reactive. Throw away anything that you eat off that is made with aluminium as it can leach into your food. Aluminium pans get thinner over time and where does it go? Into you! Some of you may be cooking roast dinners, or baked potatoes or fish in the oven  wrapped in aluminium foil. Stop! It’s harmful for you and your family. Instead, buy healthy baking paper from a health food shop or put your food in a glass casserole dish. The metal-food reaction with aluminium can produce aluminium salts that are absorbed into your body and are associated with impaired visual motor coordination, chronic inflammation in digestive disease and Alzheimer’s.

Aluminium can build up in your body from various sources such as baking powder, salt, deodorant and antacids. Some people are more sensitive to aluminium than others especially if their digestive organs are not detoxifying it out of the body effectively. It will then build up in the fat cells and tissues of the body. Aluminium is the third most abundant element in the earth’s crust and can be found in air, water and soil. It’s best to take every opportunity to avoid exposure.

Anodised aluminium cookware  has become a popular alternative to plain aluminium. Aluminium placed in a chemical solution and exposed to electric current builds up a hard, non-reactive surface. This is called anodisation. The anodising process locks in the aluminium, but anodisation can break down over time.

Cast iron -This is considered good as these pans are heavy and thick and the heat distribution is more even, maintaining the cooking temperature uniformly. This prevents one part of the food from scorching or burning whilst another part is under heated. Raw cast iron pans are best treated with healthy oil before cooking. This fills in the porous surface of the cookware.

The best types are lined with enamel and care is needed when cleaning not to abrade the enamel surface. If this happens small amounts of cast iron can leach into the food. Ingesting small amounts of iron or iron oxide through cooking hasn’t been shown to be dangerous to humans and some say it’s of benefit. I’m a bit sceptical as iron from cookware is not organically derived and it’s also non-chelated and therefore indigestible with no nutritional benefit. Cast iron is very easy to clean and lasts for generations.

Ceramic – Clay pots made from unglazed clay are generallyhealthy. The clay pot is usually soaked in water before cooking and during cooking. The pots help increase the tenderness and natural flavours of a dish. Pottery cookware has been used longer than cast iron. Originally cooking in India was done in ceramic pots over a bare flame. We don’t have strict laws in Australia regarding coating on ceramic plates and bowls; especially those that come from China. Any pot or plate or bowl that is orange, yellow or red is likely to have cadmium or lead (heavy metals) in it. It is best to stick to white. If a ceramic dish or pot has a chalky or dusty residue after washing, discard it.

Copper – copper leaches into food when heated, causing the FDA to caution against using unlined copper pans for general use. The cooking surfaces of pans are usually lined with tin, nickel or stainless steel. Coated copper cookware can lose its protective layer if damaged or scoured. I find a lot of people we test have a high copper content in their body from water pipes and it causes a lot of health problems; so avoiding it in pans is essential too. Bear in mind that the metals of the “protective” coating can also end up in your food.

Glass – lead-free glass cookware does not leach into food and is made from silica or sand. From this point of view it is the safest cookware. The only disadvantage of using glass cookware is its heat distribution inefficiency, the glass can break and there can be loss of nutrients due to the light from the heating element destroying light sensitive nutrients in food because of glass transparency; these are not affected by opaque cookware. Avoid using non-resistant glass cookware over heat as it can shatter. Glass cookware is not designed to go from the oven to the fridge and a change in temperature like this can cause it to shatter.

Stainless steel – this is safe and durable. Choose pots with heavy bases; preferably cooper bases as these distribute the heat evenly and steel is inert. This option is a mixture of different metals, including nickel, chromium and molybdenum. These metals can migrate into foods, but unless your cookware is worn or damaged the amount of metal likely to get into your food is not harmful.

As with non-stick pans, it is best to avoid using abrasives for cleaning stainless steel cookware.

Teflon coated vessels – I wouldn’t recommend these as over time the teflon gets scratched off into the food and they have fluoropolymer coatings to prevent sticking. The fumes can also be toxic when cooking in these pans at high temperatures. According to the Environmental Working Group non-stick coatings can “reach 700° Fahrenheit in as little as 3-5 minutes, releasing 15 toxic gases and chemicals, including two carcinogens.” At high heat the fluoropolymers used in non-stick finishes release various toxic substances and at least one greenhouse gas.
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The biggest concern surrounds perfluorooctanic acid (PFOA), a substance that persists in the environment which is detectable in the blood of almost all Americans, adults and newborns. PFOA is considered a likely carcinogen and is associated with birth defects. It is known to cause testicular, pancreatic, mammary and liver tumours in rats. Workers exposed to PFOA have increased risk of pancreatic cancer and cancer of the male reproductive tract. These fumes have killed caged pet birds kept in kitchens. There is still research being done on its potential harmful effects. These pans are unfortunately very popular as they prevent food sticking. Never leave the stove unattended as toxicity becomes worse with overcooked or overheated food.

Titanium has many advantages due to beneficial titanium metal properties. It is usually healthier, lighter, lasts longer, heats quickly and is easy to clean. There can be confusion with non-stick titanium or titanium reinforced pans. Titanium can mean pure titanium material without any coating; while non-stick titanium or titanium reinforced pans often have coatings made of material similar to teflon. Titanium cookware that is safe is usually silver in colour. It is best to check with the manufacturer all the substances that go into the pan; some titanium pans are mixed with other metals. If they don’t leach they are usually safe but the amount and types of metals will alter the quality of the pan.

In health,



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