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What Are the Healthiest Pans to Cook in?

By Nicki Wolf

Eating healthy can start with your choice of cookware. There are a variety of pans to choose from in a range of price points. Speak to your nutritionist to discuss the best choice for you – you can find pans that increase your intake of certain nutrients, protect you from bacteria and allergies and help you consume fewer calories and less fat.

Cast Iron

Cast-iron skillets, stock pots and other pans are an excellent choice for people with anemia or anyone who needs more iron in her diet – the iron in these pans increases the iron content of foods cooked in them. Research published in the August 2003 issue of the “Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics” indicates that the use of cast-iron pots benefits anemic and iron-deficient people in developing countries by increasing their hemoglobin concentration. Researchers theorize that making an effort to educate people in these countries about the use of cast-iron cookware could decrease anemia rates. The World Health Organization notes that iron deficiency is an epidemic – the most common nutritional disorder – throughout the world, making cast-iron pans a healthy choice.


Using nonstick pans is a healthy option when you diet – the nonstick surface allows you to use less oil or butter when cooking, which may help decrease calories and fat in your meal plan. However, some nonstick surfaces have been linked to disease under certain conditions, so it is vital to only choose safe nonstick cookware. Teflon, for instance, begins to break down when nonstick pans are overheated -- over 500 F. Only use pans according to manufacturer guidelines to keep the surface of the pan from flaking and mixing with the food you cook. Robert L. Wolke, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, tells “Good Housekeeping” magazine that nonstick pans are safe overall.

Stainless Steel

Some people prefer stainless steel pans for cooking because they’re durable and do not stain, but they also offer a healthy option for cookware – these pans have a nonporous surface. The smooth surface prevents the growth of bacteria that may take root in small pits found on other pan surfaces. Additionally, they do not react to high-acid foods as plain aluminum pans do, making this a healthy option for many people.


Some people have allergies to metals, so choosing glass pans is a good option for these individuals. The most common metal allergies are to nickel, cobalt, chromium, gold and palladium, according to research published in the February 2010 edition of “Chemical Research in Toxicology.”

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