Cast iron pans are the preferred choice of many people, and likely the best for healthy cooking. Enameled cast iron, however, is very stable and, unlike any of the alternatives above, no research has indicated that it leaches anything into the food. It is heavy, and sits well on the stove, and also distributes heat evenly. Raw cast iron can provide us with 20% of our RDA of iron, and can, in fact, be a health benefit, particularly for menstruating women.

Cast iron cookware should be seasoned before you use it. If your pans are not pre-seasoned, apply a thin coating of vegetable oil or lard, place upside down in oven and leave at around 400F for around 40 minutes. This will render the pan nonstick and smoothes out pitted and jagged surfaces. It also prevents them from rusting. You might have to do this two or three times for best results.


The safest pans for your health and for the environment are cast iron, enameled or bare, closely followed by stainless steel. The other materials all present specific problems, although some of them are suspected though not proved. Aluminum cookware and tableware might be perfectly safe for humans, but there are questions associated with the metal, and many feel it safest to use stainless steel or cast iron cookware for all their healthy cooking needs – without any PTFE nonstick coating.

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