In the last few years, aluminum cookware has been frequently discussed as having negative effects on our health.  Whether it's Alzheimer's or even heart issues, aluminum has developed a bad reputation.  At the same time, aluminum has remained a popular source material for cookware like pots and pans.

So what is a cook to do:  Replace their pans or ignore the advice?

The answer probably lies somewhere in between.

An article at healthyhomeeconomist.com details the risks and facts.  Their advice suggests that you don't have to throw all of your pots and pans out and replace  them with more-expensive stainless steel or copper (both of which could have their own health issues).  Instead, they suggest limiting your exposure in smart ways:

  • If you want to be extra careful, use unbleached parchment paper as a cover on top of the bakeware and have your food touch that instead. For aluminum muffin tins, use unbleached baking cups.
  • This same approach would be advised for aluminum foil. I see folks putting vegetables and butter in foil and wrapping it tightly to roast them .. all of which is perfectly safe. The problem arises when they open the foil after cooking and scrape the veggies into a bowl with a metal fork! This is a no-no. Make sure you use only wood or plastic utensils when dealing with foil!
  • Watch out for store bought pie crusts that come in aluminum pie pans too. While there is nothing wrong with baking your pie in a decent quality pie crust from the healthfood store, it becomes a problem when you cut that pie with a metal knife which scratches the aluminum pie pan underneath the food!
  • [...]Watch out for ice cream machines. My Cuisinart ice cream machine has an aluminum interior as do many other models. Again, this is fine and safe as long as you don’t use a metal spoon to scrape out the last bits of ice cream that get stuck to the sides!

The article goes on to detail that a systematic approach to replacement is probably prudent.  They also recommend a cautious approach to Teflon pans.