Paleo Eating – Which Toxic Cookware to Avoid When Eating Clean

By Anne (Annie) Berryhill

Whether you eat Paleo, Primal or another non-specific clean eating program, it all contributes to making the body function and look better. But too often when we prepare food in cookware, it is the kind that actually adds toxic components to our food. In the end, that sets us a bit back in our pursuit of the cleanest, healthiest things we put in our body.

I recently wrote about the effects of toxins on the body. Unfortunately, the effects can be things that are subtle enough that we really don’t notice or give a 2nd thought. It’s not until something major starts to happen that we begin to look for answers and solutions. But, with education and prevention it doesn’t have to be that way!

Cookware and the toxic dangers:

Aluminum Cookware:

Possibly Dangerous

With aluminum being one of the most abundant metals on the Earth, exposure to it may be hard to avoid. But what about using cookware made of this?  As I read, opinions varied from NO RISK, to be very careful. Many reports site aluminum exposure as a possible cause of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Whether that is from deodorants or aluminum cookware is not clear, nor is there evidence to support that claim. But again, if we are being exposed anyway, perhaps it is important to avoid the extra exposure potential from using aluminum cookware.

Teflon Coated:

Possibly Dangerous

As I worked on some research (as it is with the internet) the opinions are varied on this topic. Dupont, the maker of Teflon wants us to believe that there is absolutely NOTHING dangerous or toxic about Teflon. ON the other hand, there are many posts, and even some lawsuits related to the toxic dangers of Teflon.

Basically if you heat an empty pan or if your Teflon coating is starting to come off in little pieces, that is no good. Really, that is just basic stuff because either the fumes from the empty hot pan or the small pieces will easily make their way into our bodies.

Would you really sit down to a meal of steaming hot Teflon slices?

Then, you probably need to follow these most basic precautions. But since we really don’t know, it may be wiser to eliminate Teflon-lined cookware as much as possible, just to be safe. It is your choice.

Cast Iron Cookware:

This has been around for a very long time and people who have gravitated to this cookware swear by it.

Ceramic Cookware:

Pretty Safe (if lead free)

There is much written on this topic because ceramics, especially those from other countries will contain lead. That is very toxic and very dangerous to our bodies and has been shown to cause cancer. It is nothing to ignore! But there are ceramics available that specifically state they are lead, cadmium and arsenic free. That would be absolutely essential to insure before using this type of cookware.

Stainless Steel Cookware:


Typically, these are made from a variety of metals so if any of those made their way out of the cookware and into the food, it would present a toxic issue. Generally though, it is hard for those metals to get out unless the cookware was dinged or pitted.

Copper Cookware:

Generally Safe

In my look around, I found that Copper cookware is favored by many chefs for sautéing and for sauces because it heats up quickly. Many copper products are lined with tin or another metal to insure that copper does not get into food due to breakdown from heat.

In the end, you have to do your own homework. And be realistic about what changes you can deal with and which risks you can live with. We are exposed in so many ways. It will be challenging to pinpoint illness or disease on one exposure source anyway. But, it’s important to know so that you can do these things within your power to protect yourself and your family.

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Anne (Annie) Berryhill is a Crossfit Level 1 Trainer, USA Weightlifting Sports Performance Coach, Crossfit Athlete and competitor who owns and operates OC Fitness Revival in Orange County, CA.   Services include personal and group training, nutrition classes and counseling. As well as providing incredible health-improving supplements to help people  to make the most out of what they’ve got.




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  • Teflon scares me too. I got really overwhelmed with all the new BPA-free plastics… wondering if 5 years from now we will find out whatever they’re made with is toxic too.

    So I started thinking about what my grandparents cooked with…. cast iron both in the oven and on the stovetop. So that’s what we mostly use for cooking and some of the stoneware. And for food storage, we either use glass or stainless steel.

    Thanks for bringing more awareness to this topic, Annie!

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts…there is so much that is scary. Some we can be proactive to avoid others need additional protection because they are invisible killers!

  • Great info Anne. I’ll have to check my pots and pans. I’ve been meaning to switch and start using my cast-iron more. Maybe today is the day to make that change.

  • Thanks for these tips; I really thought that stainless steel was one of the best options! Well, not any more…thanks to you Anne 🙂

  • I have wondered about this for a long time Anne! Thanks for providing this info for me…so valuable! Getting a wishlist for Christmas together now…guess what’s on it!!Ha!

  • Great awareness article, Anne. I know you are local so if you or any of your followers are looking for a healthy non-stick alternatives, please come see me at my store, eCosway in Aliso Viejo town ctr. We have a sturdy,well priced stone-coated pan that needs no oils and does not carry the same dangers/toxins as teflon – has be come a fast favorite with fussy chefs. Also a check out oue slow cooker that needs NO electricity! and many other eco-healthy products.
    Mention this post, me/you and I will have a gift waiting for them. Pls ask for Holly, (if Im not there!) Members save more and as a new VIP this month they will also get an extra $7 off the member price!

    • Thanks Holly! I am excited to come by and check it out. I will bring my video camera and do a location report! Let’s get it on the calendar!

  • This info is so important, and most people don’t even realize that their cookware could be poisoning them. I would add to this… store your leftovers in glass instead of plastic. Great tips. Thanks!

    • McKenna…and this article was only to introduce the topic. There is a TON of information out there. But as always, you have to weed through all the sales pages to figure out the more independent evaluations. I recommend you do a little homework for yourself to make sure you are safe. I totally agree with the glass storage containers. Walmart has a bunch of different sizes for good prices.

  • This article really got me thinking about bring more intentional not only about what I am eating but what I am cooking with. I’m going to make a commitment to get rid of any old cookware and start building a collection of quality cookware – cast iron? Stainless steel?

    • Hey Dr. Eno! Thanks for stopping by…I enjoy your blog a ton!
      In my search for solutions, it seems that perhaps the safest cookware may be high-temp resistant ceramic. Dr.Mercola has a set on his site. Of course, purchasing only ceramic from verified sources that guarantee there is not lead or other metals in it is the key. Another person posted a link to her store which carries this style of cookware too!


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