Food Allergy or Cookware Allergy?

Food allergies or sensitivities/intolerances are very common, and seemingly on the rise. However there are factors other than food that can influence allergenic tendencies. How the food is prepared plays an important role. Consider those with a nickel allergy- they may react to any food cooked with stainless steel. This is because stainless steel is an alloy of many different metals including mostly iron followed by at least 10% chromium, and then varying levels of nickel, manganese, silicon, aluminum, and sulphur. If you have ever been in the market for pots and pans, you will recognize that stainless steel is considered the best option- unless you have a nickel sensitivity. The leaching of these metals into food increases if acidic foods/ingredients are being cooked, such as tomato’s/sauce, vinegar, or lemon juice.

 While I got ya, here are some other health-related cookware pearls.

Aluminum cookware

These are very common, although I would not recommend these, especially if there is a family history of Alzheimers. Buyer beware, many pots will have a lot of aluminum, but won’t be referred to as ‘aluminum’ pots. They are cheap, lightweight, and known to heat up very quickly. The cons: Boiling water (~200 degree F) in an aluminum pot increases the amount of aluminum in the water by 75x, which is then 30x over the tap water limit.1 Again, this increases with acidic foods. But also, fluoridated water increases the leaching of aluminum.

 Cast iron

Mostly pure iron, ~97-99%. These heavy skillets are slow to heat up and slow to cool down, but the best meals are made with patience. These pans require ‘seasoning’ to avoid rusting. Acidic foods react more, pulling more iron from the pan. A study showed applesauce cooked in a cast iron increased its iron content from 0.35mg to 7.38mg after cooking in a cast iron pan. Iron is an important mineral, especially for those with a vegan diet, or menstruating females. However, contrary to this, people with hemochromatosis have an inability to get rid of iron in the body. Excess iron is pro-oxidative, think of it as rusting your blood vessels – not good. It would be wise to get your blood tested for iron levels before cooking every meal with a cast iron. Otherwise, I would recommend this for your kitchen.

Glass

A great option. Be careful of temperature changes to avoid shattered glass.

Nonstick / Teflon

This is Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), I don’t trust it. If has been shown to off gas the chemical over 500degree F. This happens pretty quick on a stove top, so it is advised to heat lightly then add the food. But also this chemical breaks down over time and enters the food, and when it breaks down it also subjects the food to the inner layer of tin and aluminum. And if you care about the environment, Teflon is devastating to the environment.

 Here is a picture of my stove top: (I tend not to clean my cast iron often which maximizes its ‘seasoning’)

Links for cookware:

Citations:

  1. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(89)92598-1
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