Is it time to part ways with Aluminum?
- 3 Months ago
Our kitchens are homes to a wide range of cookware- anodized, non-stick, steel, copper, aluminum, cast iron, enameled cast iron, carbon steel, enamel-on-steel, and ceramic-based nonstick GreenPans. And, modern technology hasn’t just helped us with new metals for cooking, it has also given us multiple devices to cook dishes too- microwaves, ovens, barbeque grills, slow cookers, and even sous vide containers. Unfortunately, with more options, come more hassles.
A recent study claimed that the good old, trustworthy aluminum foil is no longer safe to use for cooking dishes in the oven. At this point, you may think of mentioning that we have been using aluminum pots for cooking since a very long time. So what about that? Have been harming ourselves all along? Well, yes and no!
Aluminum is safe to use within permissible limits. And the aluminum used in cookware is the oxidized kind, which gives your pots and baking dishes their matte finish. Aluminum offers excellent heat conduction and is resistant to rust and corrosion. But over time and due to continuous cooking and washing, the oxidized matte surface can wear off, causing aluminum to leach into foods.
Aluminum foil is much worse then, since it does not come with the protective oxidized layer. So it can definitely leach into foods, especially acidic and spicy ones when cooked at high temperatures. This amount is above permissible limits.
Aluminum & the Human Body
The human body has the capability of excreting small amounts of aluminum from the system. Daily intake of 40mg per kg of body weight should not pose any health problems. Aluminum isn’t just restricted to cookware and foils.
It is also present in foods such as corn, yellow cheese, salt, herbs, and tea and medicines, especially antacids and antidepressants.
Studies are still being conducted to understand how high concentrations of aluminum can be detrimental to human health. For now, overexposure to aluminum has been linked to Alzheimer’s disease, bone diseases, and renal impairment. A high concentration of aluminum has also been found to reduce the growth rate of brain cells.
While, studies are still trying to establish the connection between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease, there have been evidences of aluminum build-up in brain tissues. Many previous studies have proved the presence of build-up in autopsies conducted on Alzheimer’s patients.
Osteoporosis & Bone Diseases
High levels of aluminum and the subsequent accumulation alter bone mineralization, parathyroid, and bone cell activity. Excessive aluminum causes hypercalcemia (high calcium levels in blood) and prevents its deposition in the bones. Chronic toxicity leads to reduced osteoblast population and bone mineralization causing osteoporosis.
Now for some damage control! Here’s how you can protect your bones and brain.
- Obviously, the first thing to do is stop using aluminum containers and foil for cooking. The foils can be used for wrapping and storing food though, since there is no evidence yet of aluminum leaching into cold foods.
- But, avoid storing acidic foods such as tomatoes, citrus fruits, and spices in foil, just in case.
- Use tempered glass containers or steel to cook food at high temperatures.
- Replace foil wrap with wax paper to store hot foods.