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Clean Living


By March 8, 2011November 14th, 20238 Comments

There is so much focus and conversation on what constitutes a healthy meal, which I think is important obviously, but there isn’t enough discussion on the importance of good quality cookware. If you are using aluminum, copper, non-stick or even stainless steel cookware then you are contaminating your food every time you cook. Your pots and pans can be a source of heavy metals, more specifically, aluminum, copper and nickel as well as synthetic chemicals, one in particular called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) which creates the non-stick finish. Not only can these toxins get into the food while you are cooking but also can be released into the air you are breathing.

In animal studies, PFOA caused cancer and toxicity of several organs including the brain, prostate, liver and kidneys. In a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), PFOA was detected in close to 98% of the population. A study conducted by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, detected PFOA in 100% of the newborn infants from exposure while in the womb. This is scary data! I did want to make mention that the PFOA is not only used to manufacture Teflon, but is also a breakdown product of chemicals used to coat food packaging, including fast food like McDonald’s, and stain-resistant coatings for couches, carpets, and clothing. Non-stick cookware, unrelated to PFOA, has also been implicated in increased instances of cancer in the pancreas, liver, testicles, and mammary glands, as well as miscarriages, thyroid problems, weakened immune systems, and low organ weights. Aluminum of course has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease as well as other health concerns, so if we lower are exposures we may lower are risks.

The cookware that seems to be the safest is the ceramic cookware. There is no lead, cadmium, aluminum, copper, nickel, chromium, iron or any other heavy metals and chemicals. I have purchased the whole line of the Ceramcor’s Xtrema cookware. It is great for many reasons. It is versatile, meaning you can use it not only on your stove top, oven, and grill, but can also store it in the refrigerator. They use a non-toxic ceramic glaze which helps keep everything from sticking to the bottom. There was an adjustment at first when using these pots and pans because it heats up more quickly and stays warm longer so you may have to adjust the temperature from what you are used to cooking on. Cleaning the pots and pans are a little bit more cumbersome, but definitely worth it. What I also like about this line of cookware is that the steps they take in making this product are all green.

Not all ceramic cookware are created equal. Some ceramic companies have a top layer made with chemicals, so please make sure you investigate before buying just any ceramic cookware. You can check out their website at


  • Michelle says:

    What about using cast-iron cookware? Is that ok?

    • Dr. Jennifer Nevels says:

      Cast-iron is fine for those who have a deficiency in iron because it will get into the food and help to build up levels. If there isn’t a deficiency than it isn’t necessary to get extra iron in our system. If you have a cast- iron skillet to cook with on occassion that is fine but for every meal it may be too much. I would say that the cast iron skillet as far as toxicities go is superior to many of the other pots and pans that I discussed besides the ceramic cookware.

  • Sara says:

    Hi Dr. Jennifer – I applaud the idea of creating a safer home, and because there’s so much misinformation out there about Teflon, I’m not surprised that you are concerned. I’m a representative of DuPont though, and hope you’ll let me share some information with you and your readers, so that everyone can make truly informed decisions.

    In regards to PFOA and cancer – The weight of evidence gathered from a number of significant health studies continues to indicate to us that there is no health risk to the general public from exposure to PFOA. Additionally, no authoritative body has designated PFOA as a human carcinogen. The U.S. EPA stated that it is premature to conclude that PFOA causes cancer. For more information, please visit and can provide you with additional information.

  • Corey Devine says:

    I have been using stainless steel cookware thinking it was safe. What toxic metals are found in stainless steel? Also, the ceramic cookware set looks nice, especially since it has a nonstick, natural, safe surface.

    • Corey Devine says:

      Also, can someone safely use titanium cookware?

      • Dr. Jennifer Nevels says:

        Good question. I don’t think there is enough information at this point for me to make a solid opinion either way from what I have read. Until there is more concrete information I will stick with my natually non-stick ceramic for now. 🙂

    • Dr. Jennifer Nevels says:

      Stainless steel is relatively safe as long as you aren’t using utensils that will scratch the pots and pans. This is where the leaching of the metals becomes an issue. The two main metals that can be leached are nickel and chromium.