Aluminium And Aluminium Cookware - Their Effects On Health
Aluminium is the 3rd most common metal found in our environment. It is in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the ground we walk on. Since it is inexpensive, aluminium today is used in the manufacture of a variety of cookware as well as a number of products that we use everyday. The quality of cookware is very important not only in cooking but healthy cooking and this article will look into the health aspect of aluminium from various angles.
Aluminium cookware came into the market after the 1st World war. Since they were cheap and light weight, they were preferred over the heavy and difficult to clean iron pans. Today 90% or more households use aluminium cookware to cook food and boil liquids. This increasing use of aluminium cookware spread because of the unawareness of the harm aluminium causes to health.
Aluminium is cheap, is a good conductor of heat and hence is used to manufacture all kinds of cookware and other kitchen utensils. Aluminium is also used in the manufacture of storage equipment, manufacturing equipment and even equipment used to milch animals.
Aluminium is also used in gas and water heaters so water is also contaminated in a big way. It is believed that over 70% of all processed food could be contaminated with aluminium.
Tip No 1
One point to keep in mind is that anytime an aluminium cookware or manual juicing equipment (anodized or not) becomes pitted or pock marked or has scrapes or gouges, its use should be abandoned.
Some Areas Where Aluminium Is Used
Other uses of aluminium include the production of :
- Beverage and Food cans
- Aluminium foil manufacture
- Salt and sugar - to make it free flowing
- White flour - as a bleaching agent
- Cake mixes and baking powder
- Processed cheese
- Cosmetics, sunscreens, anti perspirants
- Antacids and anti diarrheals
- Infant foods
Effects Of Aluminium On Liquids
Any liquid that is boiled in an aluminium vessel gets charged with aluminium ions. Even boiling for as low as 2 minutes makes the liquid charged with a high and potent force of aluminium. The ugliest part of this is that washing this utensil before using it again does not rid the filled liquid of aluminium which gets charged with aluminium ions without heating. It has been found that to get rid of this capability of the utensil one has to wash it 4 to 5 times with fresh water.
It has also been found that as the period of boiling of the liquid increases from 2 to 5 minutes and beyond, the charge increases to twice its initial strength after 10 minutes of boiling.
It has also been found that even processed foods that have been packed and sold in aluminium containers get contaminated by aluminium leaching out into these food stuffs. Just think of how much aluminium will leach out into these foods when hot foods that are packed in the aluminium foils and bags remain wrapped in it for hours before being consumed.
This potency of aluminium that is formed in water or foods compares well to the potentization principle on which the science of
homeopathy is based and the symptoms of aluminium toxicity are treated by the very salt of aluminium, in homeopathy.
It is also pertinent to add that here that greaseproof paper is very often contaminated with aluminium. as aluminium is used in its manufacture.
Foods that are highly basic or highly acidic tend to leach aluminium into these foods being cooked in aluminium vessels.
Tip No 2
As highly acidic or highly basic foods tend to leach out aluminium from aluminium cookware, do not cook such foods in aluminium cookware.
Another study on Aluminium leaching
Another study done on the effects of aluminium leaching from aluminium utensils into different solutions like water, different concentrations of meat extract with tomato juice, citric acid and table salt were carried out.
The results indicate that in all of the above cooking solutions the leaching of aluminium was pretty high. These levels were of the values that the world Health Organization (WHO) considers unacceptable and a high risk to consumers. Read the full research paper at the link given below in the references.
The study shows the harmful effects of aluminium cookware on health.
Health Effects Of Aluminium Ingestion
- Ingestion of aluminium causes it to accumulate in various organ tissues like kidneys, brain, lungs, liver and thyroid. Since aluminium competes with calcium for absorption it causes weakness of the bones as well as retarding growth in children.
- Aluminium also reduces absorption of phosphorus, zinc and selenium. Some toxic effects of aluminum ingestion are :
- Issues with the digestive system like ulcers, heartburn, dyspepsia, flatulence, constipation etc.
- Parkinson's disease and other nerve related disorders.
- Skin problems
- Liver and kidney disease
- Brain related issues like headaches, migraines, mental retardation etc.
These damaging effects of aluminium cookware on health can be prevented by using non aluminium cookware.
Aluminium And Alzheimer's Disease
It has been found that the brains of those suffering from Alzheimer's contain more aluminium than those who do not suffer from this disease.
Though there are controversial reports about whether aluminium causes Alzheimer's or not, it is definitely possible that extra aluminium if ingested may aggravate this condition by depositing more aluminium in the brain of such patients.
The manufacturers of aluminium cookware do indicate that strongly acidic or salty foods should not be stored in aluminium cookware or containers. For the same reason aluminium foil too has to be avoided. As has been found, highly acidic or salty foods cause leaching of aluminium into foods wrapped or stored in them.
Some Healthy Substitutes For Aluminium Cookware
Here is a list of some excellent non aluminium cookware which one can use to stay safe from the harmful effects of aluminium cookware on health.
1. Stainless Steel Cookware
These are the best, easy to clean and last a lifetime and when available with bonded exterior copper base are efficient cooking utensils. The only drawback is the higher cost.
2. Enamelled Saucepans And Kettles
The are available in various colors and are attractive to look at. The enamel does not chip easily if used carefully and utensils with a thicker base can be used on electric cookers. Very safe to use for cooking.
These are excellent in every way. Just need careful handling.
4. Cast Iron Cookware
These are safe and durable as well, even though some iron may seep into the food while cooking but iron has been known to increase the red blood cells and hence it would impart a health benefit. Moreover iron is considered a healthy food additive by the U.S.Food and Drug Administration.
5. Copper Cookware
Copper cookware is normally lined with tin or stainless steel since copper can leach into food when heated. It is heats up fast and distributes heat evenly.
6. Teflon Coated Cookware
The manufacturers say that none of the production process linked chemicals are in the Teflon coating while the U.S.Protection Agency says that ingestion of small particles of Teflon along with food is not known to cause any health issues. If these utensils are taken care of they can be safely used for a long time.
A Word About Anodized Cookware
While most good aluminium cookware today is anodized, making the aluminium surface not only resistant to abrasion and corrosion to prevent aluminium leaching into the cooked food but also making it the most durable cookware with a surface that is extremely heat resistant to normal cooking temperatures.
Though the amount of leaching of aluminium from such cookware is very small it has to be borne in mind that the issue of cumulative effect is an issue to contend with especially if one is suffering from diseases like Alzheimer's, Parkinson's or suffering from kidney ailments or other diseases wherein intake of extra aluminium can have an detrimental effect.
Though the anodized coating is hard and scratch resistant, it should be ensured that the coating is kept intact by not using hard abrasive cleaners like steel wool which may scratch the anodized surface causing the safety coating to come off and thereby cause leaching of aluminium into the food.
Also, though anodized aluminium is regarded as safe it is still not advisable to store acidic foods in such containers to prevent corroding the cookware causing aluminium to leach out into food. This is one way to prevent the damaging effects of aluminum cookware on heath.
Anodized aluminium cookware being non magnetic cannot be used on induction cook tops as heat in such cook tops is generated by the magnetic induction coil which heats the food by the transfer of magnetic energy to the magnetic cookware.
The information provided in this hub is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult your physician, or health care provider before taking any home remedies, supplements or starting a new health regime.
Research study on aluminium leaching - Read the full report here
Health risks of cooking in aluminium - Avoid cooking acidic foods or storing them in aluminium containers.
Dangers of Aluminum & How to Make Your Own Baking Powder
Aluminum and Alzheimer's
Rajiv dixit's suggestion (don't use Aluminum pots for cooking food specially pressure cooker) !!
© 2013 Rajan Singh Jolly