Cast Iron Cookware – Is it Really a Health Risk
Author: Terry Retter
I’m sure you’ve all heard the rumor that cast iron can leak particles of iron into your food, and if you haven’t, I’m going to tell you about it right now. A lot of people have turned away from cast iron cookware in fear that they may be getting iron forced into their system through the meals they fix. People freak out when they hear that metal is being put in their food and quickly buy the first glass pan they can find. You’d probably like me to say next that this is all a lie and that cast iron leaks nothing at all…but then I’d be lying to you.
The great news is that iron is actually good for you! In fact, your body needs iron to produce red blood cells which your body uses to transport oxygen. A lot of people have iron deficiencies, so cooking with cast iron can actually help their bodies function better, not worse. Women who are about to enter menopause may find this quite helpful as their diets usually don’t contain enough of the iron they need. Overall, a little bit of metal may not be that bad.
Iron can be dangerous though for people who have an overabundance of it in their systems. Too much iron can increase a person’s risk of heart disease, increased aging, or even cancer. People who eat a lot of red meat, dried fruit, nuts, or greens may already have a sufficient amount of iron in their bodies. Anyone who has been diagnosed or may be diagnosed with iron overload disease (hemochromatosis) should probably avoid cast iron cookware or use it only in moderation.
You can see why people are a little scared of cast iron cookware. For some it can be great, but for others it can be quite dangerous. So why use cast iron cookware at all? It’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Though this may be true, by eliminating cast iron from your kitchen, you are missing out on some of the most durable and everlasting cookware on the market. Investing in a good cast iron pan is sometimes pricey, but they last forever.
Another way to get the benefits of cast iron cookware while minimizing any issues regarding iron leakage is to choose enameled cast iron. The enamel coating on quality cast iron completely encapsulates that cast iron essentially eliminating the iron contact with your food. But the heat distribution and retention characteristics are totally retained. .
If you choose to use the traditional cast iron, the trick to staying healthy and still eating well is in the seasoning of the iron. You’ll want to choose a piece of cookware that has a pretty smooth surface with few divots or chips in them (you might be surprise at what you can find at garage sales). The smoother the surface, the easier it will be to season and the longer it will last. The oil layer on the outside of the pan will help reduce some of the iron emitted and will also protect the integrity of the piece.
Unless you know that you have too much iron in your system, you should have no reason to worry about cast iron cookware. If you’re still worried about using cast iron, use the enamel alternative which is just as versatile and is available in an array of designer colors.
Cast iron may not be for every occasion but is one of the more versatile options for the kitchen. You should have one or two pieces in yours.
About the Author
A wide array of Chasseur cast iron cookware can be found at Your Smart Kitchen the location for quality cookware at reasonable prices. Featured are Chasseur, Fissler, Mauviel. Paderno, DeLonghi and other quality brands supported with superior customer service and guaranteed satisfaction. Terry Retter