Healthy Cookware

Dec 18, 2023

Author Sarah Glinski, RD
Edited by Sandra Gentleman, RD

Your Complete Guide to Healthy Cookware

While many of us focus on what we eat, we often forget to consider how we prepare our food. From cast iron to stainless steel to non-stick, there are endless options for cooking our food. But how do you know whether you’re using healthy cookware?

In this blog post, we review the pros and cons of six different types of cookware, so you can make an informed decision about what tools you use to cook.

Non-Stick

Many of us are familiar with non-stick cookware. Manufactured using a liquid coating, non-stick cookware is a popular choice for many due to its ease of use.

Pros:

  • Easy to clean.
  • Requires less oil.
  • Even cooking (non-stick coatings evenly distribute heat across the cookware’s surface).
  • Convenient for delicate foods such as fish, eggs, and pancakes.
    Time-saving.

Cons:

  • Durability issues (over time, the non-stick coating can get scratched or wear off).
  • Not suitable for high heat (excessive heat can damage the coating and release harmful fumes).
  • Not compatible with metal utensils, which can scratch off the non-stick coating.
  • Limited lifespan leads to more money spent over time due to replacing the cookware.

The Verdict: Non-stick cookware can be a convenient tool in your kitchen, provided you use and care for it properly. Avoid using non-stick cookware with high heat and metal utensils to help prolong its lifespan.

Cast Iron

Cast iron is a kitchen staple known for its durability and versatility.

Pros:

  • Excellent heat retention, making it ideal for slow cooking and braising.
  • Can be used on various cooking surfaces, such as stovetops, ovens, and grills.
  • Durable and resistant to scratches and dents.
  • Adds iron to foods, which can be helpful for people with low iron levels.
  • When properly seasoned, has natural non-stick properties.

Cons:

  • Requires seasoning, which involves applying oil and baking it onto the cookware’s surface.
  • Cast iron is heavy compared to other types of cookware.
  • Slow to heat up.
  • Can rust if not properly cared for.
  • Not dishwasher safe.

The Verdict: While cast iron has an initial learning curve, it is a piece of healthy cookware that can last for generations if properly cared for.

Stainless Steel

Like cast iron, stainless steel is a popular choice of cookware due to its durability and versatility.

Pros:

  • Stainless steel is known for its rust, corrosion, and stain resistance.
  • Can withstand high cooking temperatures.
  • Does not react with acidic or alkaline foods so it won’t impart undesirable flavours to your dishes.
  • Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.
  • Compatible with induction cooktops.

Cons:

  • Poor heat retention can result in uneven cooking if not preheated properly.
  • Prone to sticking if the cookware is not adequately oiled.
  • Hot handles require the use of potholders or oven mitts.
  • Quality stainless steel cookware can be more expensive compared to other types of cookware.
  • Heavier than some other types of cookware.

The Verdict: While expensive, stainless steel cookware is reliable and long-lasting. Its durability and non-reactive properties make it the perfect healthy cookware choice.

Copper

Copper cookware is known for its excellent heat conduction and high-end appearance.

Pros:

  • Superior heat conductivity, which provides precise temperature control and even cooking.
  • Responsive to temperature change.
  • Attractive appearance.
  • Suitable for various cooking methods.
  • Has a long lifespan when properly cared for.

Cons:

  • Copper can react with certain acidic or alkaline foods, producing a metallic taste.
  • Requires regular polishing to avoid tarnishing or developing a patina.
  • High price point.
  • Not compatible with induction cooking surfaces.
  • More susceptible to dents and scratches than other types of cookware.

The Verdict: Copper cookware provides excellent heat conductivity and can be a stylish addition to your kitchen. However, it requires careful maintenance and can be more costly compared to other types of cookware.

Glass

Often overshadowed by other types of cookware, glass cookware has its own set of advantages and disadvantages.

Pros:

  • Non-reactive and won’t impact unwanted flavours to your food.
  • Transparency allows you to monitor cooking progress without removing the lid.
  • Can be used for baking, roasting, and serving.
  • Easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

Cons:

  • Glass is fragile and may break or shatter when exposed to rapid temperature changes.
  • Slow to heat up.
  • Limited stovetop use.
  • Not for high-temperature cooking.
  • Heavy compared to other types of cookware.

The Verdict: While glass is a popular choice for baking, roasting, and serving, it typically isn’t compatible with stovetop cooking. Keep this in mind when deciding which types of glass cookware you invest in.

Ceramic

Ceramic cookware, often coated with a layer of ceramic material, has become popular for its non-stick properties and attractive appearance.

Pros:

  • Non-stick surface.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Even heat distribution.
  • Attractive design.
  • Lightweight.
  • Can be transferred between cooking surfaces (e.g., from the stovetop to the oven).

Cons:

  • The ceramic coating can wear off over time.
  • Not suitable for high heat.
  • More fragile than other types of cookware.
  • Not induction compatible.
  • Not compatible with metal utensils 

The Verdict: Provided you care for and handle ceramic cookware properly, it can be an excellent addition to your repertoire of healthy cookware.

Final Thoughts

When choosing healthy cookware, there are no right or wrong answers. Each type of cookware reviewed in this blog post has advantages and disadvantages. To make the most of your cookware, follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for use and care.

Don’t be shy about trying new types of cookware – you may just find your new best kitchen friend!

Listen in to Episode

Nutrition Nuggets  #36 Healthy Cookware

Podcast – Sandra Gentleman, or on YouTube.

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