Good cookware is an integral part of any kitchen. With good quality cookware, you can prepare the meals that you love with ease and share tasty delights with your loved ones.
The quality of cookware depends largely on the material used to make it and aluminum is one of the metals that is commonly used to make cookware. It is light in weight and possesses excellent thermal conductivity making it a popular choice in the production of cookware.
Research, however, shows that aluminum cookware pose serious health risks to the users and as such, you need to limit the use of such cookware if you want to lead a healthy life.
The negative effects of using aluminum cookware
Aluminum is a soft metal that is very reactive. When you prepare your meals in cookware made of aluminum, the food elements react with the aluminum metal surface in a chemical reaction to form aluminum complexes that leach into the food that you are preparing.
Acidic foods like tomatoes and salt react heavily with aluminum and higher concentrations of aluminum will get to your meals when you cook such foods with aluminum cookware. Heat coming from the stove hastens the chemical reactions and transfer of aluminum metal compounds from the cookware surface to the food that you are preparing.
Even when aluminum cookware is used to store food, the metal surface still reacts with the food and little amounts of aluminum will leach into the stored food.
The health risks of using aluminum cookware
When you consume the food that has been cooked or stored in aluminum cookware, you end up consuming the aluminum metal and this exposes you to a myriad of health risks. The body naturally excretes aluminum through the kidneys but when you ingest too much of it, the natural excretion process does not work and the excess aluminum ions are stored in the bones. It ends up interrupting mineralization and the growth of bone cells.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease linked to the consumption of aluminum
Lots of studies on the brains of people with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases have shown the presence of higher levels of aluminum. The cause of these two diseases is not yet clear but the high concentration of aluminum shows that those who ingest a lot of aluminum put themselves at risk of suffering these deadly diseases.
So what does one need to do to prevent coming into contact with aluminum?
1. Use cookware that has not been made with aluminum
To prevent consuming unhealthy levels of aluminum in your food, you need to stop using cookware that is made of aluminum. Aluminum may be light in weight and have good thermal conductivity but there are other cookware that possess the exact same qualities.
You can get stainless steel pots that are great when it comes to browning meals.
Alternatively, you can buy non-stick cookware that have been designed to prevent food from sticking to the surface. Non-stick cookware will allow you to cook your meals with very little oil and this makes them a great addition to any kitchen.
2. Do not store leftover food in aluminum cookware
If there is some food that has been left over after everyone has had enough, don’t use aluminum cookware to store the leftovers. This will ensure that aluminum doesn’t leach into the stored food and you will have a healthy dish waiting for you the next day.
Plastic food containers are ideal for storing leftover food since plastic doesn’t react with the food to introduce harmful elements into it.
3. Don’t use metal utensils on aluminum cookware
If aluminum cookware is all you have at the moment, then one of the things that you can do to reduce the chances of aluminum leaching into your food is to stop using metal utensils when cooking.
Metal utensils will scratch the surface of the cookware as you stir the food and this way, bits of the aluminum surface will get to the meal you are preparing. You should instead use wood utensils that are gentle on the surface and highly unlikely to damage the cookware and introduce bits of aluminum metal pieces into your meal.
4. Wash your cookware gently
Scrubbing the surface of your aluminum cookware vigorously with harsh cleaning agents will expose the inner surface of your aluminum cookware that is highly reactive. Chances of aluminum leaching into your meals are, therefore, high when you cook your meals in such cookware and as such, you need to avoid such vigorous cleaning methods.
Use gentle dishwashing soap and a gentle scrubber when cleaning your aluminum cookware so as not to expose the reactive inner surface.
5. Replace worn out cookware
Worn out cookware have the reactive inner surface exposed and that is why you need to replace them as soon as possible so as to prevent the harmful aluminum metal pieces from getting into your food.
When replacing aluminum pots, get those that are made of anodized aluminum where the surface of the cookware has been hardened to achieve a non-stick and scratch-resistant surface that will not react with the food that you are cooking.
With a lightweight and highly conductive structure, aluminum is a great material for making cookware. Studies, however, show that aluminum cookware has negative effects on your health and above, I have listed practical tips on what you need to do to prevent coming into contact with the harmful aluminum.