Aluminum cookware is popularly available worldwide and found in almost every household. Since it was discovered that aluminum is lightweight and heats evenly, it became the best choice to use for meal preparation.
However, according to tons of research done over the effect of aluminum on health, alarming information came to light. Turns out, aluminum can seep into the food we eat and cause several health problems!
Understanding Your Aluminum Pans
However, before you begin tossing out all your aluminum pans, hold on. Most of the aluminum pans today is dipped in a hot acidic solution to seal in the aluminum, making it scratchproof and super easy to clean.
This process is known as anodization. It helps to modify the aluminum’s properties so that minimal or no amount of it is transferred to the food. Even acidic and salty foods don’t react to aluminum pans that have been anodized.
Anodization aluminum adds a simple layer on the metal’s surface, as compared to cookware that undergoes hard anodization. The latter adds a thicker layer of aluminum oxide which is twice as strong, safe, scratch-proof and resistant to corrosion. What does this mean? It means that there’s still enough reason for you to keep your aluminum pans!
Here’s Why You Can Still Use Your Aluminum Pans!
Besides its aesthetics, aluminum pans still continue to be a popular choice. In fact, restaurants even serve dishes using aluminum pans to give their menu a quirky look.
So why can you still use your aluminum cookware?
Aluminum Pans are Really Durable
Anodized aluminum pans are super durable, which means they’re designed to cook multiple dishes in a day and deal with the heavy wear and tear. Strong cookware is important because of the grip it provides and quality of food it maintains.
Aluminum cookware provides just that – durability and strength.
They’re (Almost) Damage Proof
Cookware like pans, pots, frying pans and what not can become worn out over time. With excessive use over the years, many of these utensils develop scratches and abrasions, which can alter the quality of food. In fact, the scratches and cracks can be pretty harmful and release chemicals into the food. Unlike other pans, aluminum pans is almost scratch-proof and immune to such damages.
The Non-Stick Factor
Nonstick aluminum pans are actually a dream come true.
It is easy to clean and easy to cook in. The cookware stays smooth for long and also prevents food from sticking to the bottom while it cooks, thus reducing the chances of burned food. Besides, cooking in nonstick cookware is another experience!
Aluminum Pans Give You Even Heating
Uneven heating is an absolute kitchen nightmare.
Some cookware heats food unevenly, leaving bits of it charred, burned or evens tuck to the bottom of the pan. However, when it comes to aluminum cookware, this isn’t a problem. One of the reasons they’re so popular is because their surface heats up evenly without any cold spots.
Aluminum Pans Can Handle Extreme Temperatures
An aluminum pan that is anodized can put up with temperatures up to 450 degrees!
This means your pans and pots can be used in the oven too, besides on the stove. The ability to stand high temperatures makes aluminum kitchen supplies some of the best and most sought-after kitchen supplies.
But Would You Reconsider Aluminum Pans After Reading These Facts?
Everything has a good and a bad side – aluminum is no different. Conflicting research has come up claiming that people should abandon their said cookware and pick alternatives instead.
However, before we proceed, here are the “facts” that have caused people to doubt how great aluminum kitchen equipment really is.
It Can Cause Dementia
According to some studies, prolonged use of aluminum cookware to prepare meals can introduce aluminum into your body which then affects the brain. This then leads to dementia. Turns out, aluminum is not bioavailable to humans and our bodies don’t need it.
However, a group of people was studied; these patients were going through dialysis while consuming water, which was later found to consume aluminum. They soon began to display behavior that seemed similar to dementia. Upon research and observation, it was found that aluminum did affect their brains and caused some brain cells to deteriorate.
It Can Cause Alzheimer’s Disease
One of the scariest and saddest of diseases, Alzheimer’s isn’t something to be taken lightly. Some reports came out claiming that patients who had died of Alzheimer’s Disease had high doses of aluminum in their bodies, which was apparently affecting their brain function.
Further research showed that aluminum deposits easily into the body’s soft tissues, which have previously been injured or are degenerating – and what is the brain but a big soft tissue? Either way, some people still don’t believe that aluminum causes Alzheimer’s, so this topic is still up for debate.
Acidic Food Reacts With Aluminum
People are also becoming wary about cooking acidic foods in aluminum cookware. Apparently, such food reacts quite badly with the metal, releasing harmful compounds into your meal, which makes it dangerous to consume.
However, another group of people argues that aluminum cookware which is coated and goes through the anodization process isn’t bad at all.
In fact, it helps to maintain the safety barrier between the metal and ingredients. In other words, aluminum cookware which is processed properly isn’t harmful, but you probably shouldn’t keep certain foods in it for too long.
Aluminum Poisoning Is Something to Be Wary Of
Any search engine will pair information on aluminum cookware with aluminum poisoning. As alarming as it sounds, it’s not possible to get aluminum poisoning by using aluminum utensils. However, it is a phenomenon that everyone should be aware of.
Aluminum poisoning or toxicity occurs when an alarming amount of aluminum is inhaled or ingested. Ironically, even your usual gastric medicines will contain a big amount of aluminum because it is the most plentiful metal on earth. However, aluminum cookware only provides 1 – 2 milligrams of the compound, meaning you can stop worrying about contracting aluminum poisoning by preparing meals in those pots and pans.
But Wait, There’s More!
Did you know that cookware isn’t the only way that humans ingest aluminum? Research done on Alzheimer’s and other neurological disease revealed that the problem doesn’t lie in aluminum cookware alone.
You’ll be surprised to know that the many common foods have aluminum in them – and you’re probably ingesting a few as you read! Pickling agents, anti-caking agents, baking powders, baking mixes, non-dairy creamers, self-raising flour, processed cheese, soft drink cans, and even aspirin and antacids contain aluminum! In other words, these foods and tablets can easily introduce 500 – 5,000 milligrams of aluminum into our body per day.
You can even ingest aluminum through your skin, too. Antiperspirant deodorants, sunscreens, and other personal hygiene and beauty products contain aluminum, too.
For example, antiperspirants block the sweat glands; because of this, there is no way for the skin to ventilate, which can apparently create a cloud of aluminum salts, which is ingested via inhalation! Insane, right?
Of course, these products can be limited, controlled and replaced with alternatives, but what about aluminum cookware? Is it worth cutting down the use of aluminum utensils?
The Importance of Choosing Proper Cookware
How do you know if your kitchen is well stocked and contains the healthiest equipment available? After various conflicting debates on aluminum cookware and its potential harms, it’s best to be wary about your purchasing habits.
In other words, follow certain criteria when picking out cooking utensils to ensure you’re getting the best of your meals and staying safe at the same time. Here’s what to look out for.
Good Heat Conduction
Heat conduction can make or break your cooking experience. Your cooking utensils should be heavy enough to gradually conduct heat.
Unfortunately, various cooking utensils in the market aren’t the best when it comes to heat conduction. A cold pan or one that gets overheated isn’t easy to use.
Furthermore, it doesn’t help your meal keep its nutrients. Besides, uneven heating can cause food to stick to the bottom of the pan, which is a pain to clean!
Sturdy and Heatproof Handles
Look for handles that keep their cool when the pressure builds up – literally! Big pots and pans need to be held in order to cook their contents properly, so look for handles that don’t heat up too quickly.
However, also be careful that certain handles can’t be put under extreme temperatures. For example, your big pot may be great for baking, but if it has wooden handles, you may just want to stick to the stove.
Secure and Safe Lids
This is essential. Your cookware should have secure lids and knobs that don’t heat up too quickly. A good lid keeps moisture in, which helps to maintain your meal’s quality. It also helps to evenly cook food.
Besides, safe lids also ensure no sudden accidents happen. They can avoid scary boil overs or spills and even avoid reacting to pressure.
Other Alternatives for Your Aluminum Pans
Just because you’re skeptical about aluminum utensils doesn’t mean you’re at a loss! In fact, there are great options out there to use instead of your aluminum cookware if you’re iffy about using them.
So wondering what other alternatives for aluminum cookware can you use?
Cast Iron Pans
Heavy, popular and great for home and professional use, a cast iron is a great alternative! It’s big enough to accommodate a large number of ingredients, and also has a naturally nonstick surface.
Cast irons are also very durable; in fact, they’re passed on from generation to generation because they can withstand the wear and tear of cooking! It also heats evenly and is perfect to cook tough food like meat and delicate food like eggs and vegetables, too.
Beautiful and used as a serving dish at various restaurants, copper is another alternative for aluminum cookware. It’s one of the best conductors of heat, meaning if you’ve got some quick-cooking to do, this is an asset!
However, controversies about copper cookware exist, too. Apparently, it’s very reactive, so you can only cook certain food types on it. It also requires regular maintenance and cannot be cleaned in a dishwasher.
Stainless Steel Pans
One of the most popular and commonly used utensils in homes, stainless steel is a great alternative for aluminum cookware. They’re easy to clean and maintain, and they last pretty long too.
The best part is that they’re pretty cheap, which means you can easily replace an old pot or pan. Furthermore, some manufacturers create strong stainless steel, which can also withstand extreme temperatures in the oven, too!
Ceramic Cookware Pans
Ceramic cookware is quickly becoming popular because of its aesthetics and the earthy taste it lends to the food prepared in it. They can be heated up to high temperatures and are very safe to use. In fact, many manufacturers take care to use safe components to create ceramic cookware.
However, care must be taken to ensure that the ceramic cookware and utensils are cleaned and stored properly. Once chipped or cracked, they become unusable.
Related article: Why Do Ceramic Pans Lose Their Non-Stick Properties?
Are you still confused about using your aluminum pans? Well, don’t be.
Of course, it’s easier said than done, given the conflicting evidence for and against the use of aluminum. But a few things all experts agree on are:
- They’re great to sauté food in.
- The duration of cooking should not be long.
- Food shouldn’t be stored in aluminum cookware.
Health is wealth, so make an active decision to take care of what you’re putting in your body!
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