What you should know when choosing healthy frying pans and cookware

09:16, 03 August, 2015
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laila-meija-leadLaila Meija (pictured), dietician and assistant professor of the Department of Sports and Nutrition, Faculty of Public Health and Social Welfare, Rīga Stradiņš University, when talking about frying pans and cookware of different materials, emphasises the aspects which should be taken into account to ensure that food that is prepared or kept in these pans or dishes would not do any harm to health.

"Lately, cooking has been discussed in mass media very often, and everybody understands how important the food is to maintain one's health and beauty, but the cookware and methods of cooking are just as important," says assistant professor Laila Meija.

Frying pans with Teflon coating. "As obesity becomes more frequent, everybody talks about cooking with as less fat as possible. Thus, non-stick frying pans were introduced, Teflon pans being the most popular among them. The instruction manuals for such pans say that they must not be used if canaries are present in the premises – these birds are very sensitive and may die in few minutes. A question arises: how comes that these "healthy" pans kill birds?

A Teflon pan gives off very toxic gas at high temperatures. One of such gases is perfluorooctanoic acid, abbreviated as PFOA. There have been studies that prove that it causes cancer, liver damage, hereditary pathologies and obesity. "Lately, however, more and more frying-pans without this hazardous substance can be found in shops."

What can we do not to harm our health with such non-stick frying pans?

  • Do not heat an empty frying pan!
  • Do not pour cold water in a hot frying pan!
  • Do not expose food to too high temperatures!
  • Ventilate premises!
  • Do not burn food!
  • Choose a heavier frying pan as the risk of overheating is less!
  • Store your frying pans so that they are not scratched, for instance, do not put one pan into another!

Stainless steel frying pans and cookware. Very widely used and good material, however, "one has to remember that when heated – these pans give off hazardous metals – iron, chrome, also nickel". The most important thing to remember – sour and salted products must not be kept in stainless steel cookware, and it is important to care for the coating of a pan – it must be wiped and washed only in water without any special detergents.

Cast iron pans and cookware. Do not cook food in oil in such dishes, wash them only in water without any detergents.

Aluminium pans and dishes. Easy to use, but "aluminium is a material that reacts with food most actively ". Studies show that food that is prepared in aluminium cookware has an adverse effect on the nervous system, brain, etc. Laila Meija advises not to cook food in such cookware for long time and not to keep sour products in them.

Ceramics. It is safer to buy industrially manufactured ceramics, one has to be very careful with home handicraft; orange, red and yellow glazing is especially dangerous, they should not be used for cooking or storing food for long time.

Copper and brass cookware. Although these dishes are nice, the assistant professor advises to use them as interior decorations rather than for cooking. Still, if you use them for cooking, make sure the surface is not damaged.

Silicon cookware. "Until now, there is no information about any health hazards caused by silicon cookware.”

Assistant professor Laila Meija advises everyone to examine their pans, pots and dishes, leaving only the ones that are in a good condition or buy some new cookware.