In India, traditionally metals and clay utensils have been the most preferred and widely used utensils for cooking. Lord Jagannath’s mahabhog prasadam is till today cooked in a clay pot and served in leaves. Salt and spice boxes were usually made of wood and grains were generally stored in bronze or copper vessels.
With the advent of new technologies, these traditional vessels were slowly replaced by more economic and easy-to-maintain utensils. But, do you know that the pots, pans, and utensils that we use today can expose us to harmful toxins?
Unhealthy fumes or metal leaching into food over time may cause damage to organs. There are certain toxins that are in modern cookware that could actually make us sick, or potentially long-term use can create an environment within our body that maybe is difficult to get rid of.
Utensils to Avoid
We use them on a daily basis in our cooking. Many times, we use aluminum foil to wrap the food on the tray for baking. Cooking a meal in an aluminum pan can add about 1 to 2 mg of aluminum to our food which neutralizes the vitamins and minerals present in the food.
Which household does not have non-stick cookware? Teflon coating contains PFOA (perfluorooctanoic acid) or PTFE (Polytetrafluoroethylene), which can create toxic fumes when heated. These toxic fumes may cause what is known as “polymer fume fever.” Symptoms include breathing difficulty, sore throat, and fever. In the USA, PFOA was banned in 2013. If you have some old non-stick cookware, get rid of them or check if they have a PFOA coating before buying them.
The health hazard of plastic is now a known fact. We are addicted to plastic since they are lightweight, convenient, and cheap. Some reports have shown that almost all BPA-free plastic still leaches chemicals that act like estrogens, same as BPA, and some release substitutes called BHPF into drinking water which can cause poor pregnancy outcomes.
Chipped, cracked, or scratched
Avoid using chipped, cracked, or scratched utensils that are made of stainless steel, ceramic, or glass. These vessels are relatively safer but once they are old and damaged, can cause many health hazards. The best practice will be to replace old and damaged utensils with a new ones regularly.
Utensils to adopt
Research shows that the chances of metal leaching in copper utensils are very low. It is also found that copper utensils lower the risk of the spread of infection from harmful bacterias. Copper also helps to increase the metabolic rate. Further, it is also the best metal for cooking rice in freshness and storing rice.
It is the most ancient and the best type of metal used in cooking. Meals cooked in bronze utensils are found to be beneficial in curing obesity, skin problems (including dry skin, acne, irritation, etc). Bronze utensils are also recommended to people who have Alzheimer’s disease since it helps in enhancing memory. However, we should avoid cooking ghee in the bronze utensil.
It has been the most preferred metal in many civilizations for cooking and serving. Silver metal has preservative, medicinal and therapeutic powers. Greeks used silver vessels to store water and other fluid and Romans used to store wine in it to keep it fresh for a longer period of time. Silverware has also been found helpful in the prevention of plague.
It is the most commonly used metal among traditional cookware. Storing water in a brass vessel helps to increase strength and immunity. It makes water rid of germs within 4 hours.
Cast-iron is making a comeback. It is the best source to add iron to our food and is safe to cook food on a higher flame. A well-seasoned cast-iron would require less amount of oil for cooking making the food lower in fat. They are cheaper and also easy to clean. However, some precaution is needed while cooking in a cast-iron skillet, like never letting the cooked food stay in it for a long time. Cooking in the iron pot can also change the natural color of the food. If you have the condition of hemochromatosis where iron is overloaded in the body, you do not want to cook in cast iron pans or pots.
They are the most preferred utensil to cook food in Ayurveda as it makes the food healthier, nutritious, easier to digest, and more flavorful. The porous and natural insulation of clay pots causes heat and moisture to circulate throughout clay pots and add nutrients from that clay pot to seep into the food.
Apart from these, there are other types of vessels that are made of stone, wood, gold, and leaves that are found to have many health benefits. According to Acharya Sushruta, ghee should be kept in iron vessels; fruits and all eatables in vessels made of leaves; drinks in silver vessels; sour food items like buttermilk in vessels made of stone; water well boiled and then cooled in copper vessels; syrups and wine in vessels made of mud, glass, or stone.