Cooking utensils and nutrition

Definition 
Cooking utensils and their affect on nutrition.

Function  
The utensils that are used to cook food often do more than just “hold” the food. Molecules of substances can leach from the utensil to the food that is being cooked in that utensil. Three of the substances that have been connected with utensils include aluminum, lead, and iron. Both lead and aluminum have been associated with illness.

Food Sources  
Cooking utensils can affect any cooked foods.

Recommendations  

ALUMINUM
Early studies indicated that Alzheimer’s patients have unusually high levels of aluminum in the brain, proposing a possible connection between the elevated aluminum and the disease. However, current studies have shown that the increased aluminum levels in these patients could be attributed to a preservative that was added to the test sample.

Although up to 52% of all cookware is made with aluminum, research has shown that the amount of aluminum leached into food from this cookware is insignificant.

LEAD
Children should be especially careful of ceramicware containing lead. Acidic foods such as oranges, tomatoes, or foods with vinegar will cause more lead to be leached from ceramicware than non-acidic foods like milk. More lead will leach into hot liquids like coffee, tea, and soups than into cold beverages. Any dishware that has a dusty or chalky gray residue on the glaze after it has been washed should not be used.

Also, any ceramicware bought abroad or categorized as a craft, antique, or collectable may not meet FDA specifications, and should not be used to hold food. Test kits can detect gross levels of lead in ceramicware, but may not detect lower levels that are also potentially dangerous.

See Lead - nutritional considerations.

For more information on dietary exposure to lead, contact:
FDA
Center for Safety and Applied Nutrition
200 C Street S.W.
Washington, DC 20201

IRON
There is significant evidence that cooking in cast iron pots increases the amount of iron in the diet. This is usually an insignificant source of dietary iron. See Iron in diet.

When buying cookware, be aware of what it is made of and ask a health care professional to guide you in determining whether cooking with or in certain cookware is appropriate.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 2, 2012
by Arthur A. Poghosian, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.