Forget sharp knives and boiling water: our kitchens are full of dangers that could be affecting our health. Naturopath and author of Digestive Solutions, Michèle Wolff, looks at the nasties hiding in our kitchen and how to avoid them.
The metal-food reaction with aluminium can produce aluminium salts that are absorbed into your body and may be associated with impaired motor coordination and chronic inflammation which can result in a number of health conditions. Aluminium pans get thinner over time, and the only place for it to go is in your food.
Tip: Buy baking paper to wrap your beetroot, fish or potato or put your food in a glass casserole dish.
Over time, Teflon can get scratched off into the food. The fumes can also be toxic when cooking in these pans at high temperatures. Never leave Teflon pans on the stove unattended; the toxicity becomes worse with overcooked or overheated foods. Although these non-stick pans are popular there are alternatives that do not harm your health.
Tip: Look for chemical free cookware, such as pans with an ecolon coating which is ecofriendly and chemical free, such as neoflam.
Although seen as a speedy and convenient option, microwaves release electromagnetic waves that cause friction and heat to your food. Nutrient damage also occurs and there is a concern with plastics coming into contact with food.
Tip: Do not put breast milk, plastics or metal into a microwave. Exposed to microwaves, breast milk will lose lysozyme (an enzyme with antiseptic action) and antibodies, can foster the growth of pathogenic bacteria, and result in uneven heating which may cause burning in a baby’s mouth. Metal and plastics can create toxic fumes which can cause serious injury.
There is a danger of cooking meats at high temperatures which uses the production of Heterocyclic amines (HCAs). Research has show that these are the carcinogenic chemicals formed when amino acids (from protein) and creatine (a chemical found in muscle) react at high temperatures.
Tip: Avoid medium-well or well-done meat to minimise health risk.
High temperature cooking
Grilling or pan-frying can still cause high amounts of HCAs if the temperature is high.
Tip: Frying is fine, as long as you use the right oils. Cook with ghee, coconut oil or rice bran oil. Coconut oil is slower to oxidise and is not chemically altered when heated at a high temperature. These are the best oils to use when stir-frying as the nutrients in the foods are not compromised by the oxidising oil.
The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture published a study done on the effects of antioxidants in different methods of cooking. In varying amounts, there was a reduction of antioxidants in all methods of cooking:
Microwaving: 74-79% loss
Boiling: 66% loss
Pressure cooking: 47% loss
Tip: Ideally, it is best to cook in stainless steel, ceramic or glass pans and to cook at low temperatures to conserve nutrition.
Michèle Wolff is a leading health practitioner and a qualified naturopath, nutritionist, herbalist and nurse, owner of Ultimate Detox Solutions www.detoxspecialist.com.au. Her new book ‘Digestive Solutions – 101 Proven Methods to Solve Your Tummy Problems Naturally’ is available from bookstores and good online booksellers. Visit www.digestivesolutions.com.au.