Aluminum cookware may leach aluminum compounds into food. The person consuming this food then incorporates the aluminum into their body. Acidic foods cause more aluminum leaching than alkaline or pH neutral foods. However, the World Health Organization estimates that a person can consume 50 mg of aluminum per day without adverse health effects. According to Environment, Health and Safety Online, acidic tomatoes cooked in an aluminum pot collected only 3 to 5 mg of aluminum per serving. Anodizing of aluminum cookware creates a more formidable barrier to leaching. Aluminum cookware in good condition leaches less than that with scratches or pits.
Aluminum cookware leaching high amounts of aluminum in combination with large amounts from other sources may cause poisoning. People in old age or with kidney problems experience heightened responses to aluminum poisoning. These responses include impaired mental functioning, anemia, muscle weakness and seizures. Doctors use various tests, such as a bone biopsy to confirm the body’s aluminum levels. Doctors treat aluminum poisoning with deferoxamine mesylate, which helps to remove excess aluminum from the body.
Consumer concern about the link between aluminum and Alzheimer’s disease in the 1980’s led to a Food and Drug Administration review of the risks of aluminum cookware. According to Michigan State University, the FDA concluded in 1986 that no information available proved harmful effects of aluminum intake from cookware and other typical daily sources. WebMD reports that while some researchers have found a correlation between high brain aluminum content and instance of Alzheimer’s, no one has reached conclusive evidence of causation. Moreover, exposure to large amounts of aluminum more likely results from antiperspirant, antacid and other medication use. The hazard that aluminum cookware poses pales in comparison to these other more potent sources of aluminum.
Stop Doing This With Aluminum Foil
What’s more, Dr. Zubaidy, one of the study authors, comments that: “The higher the temperature, the more the leaching. Foil is not suitable for cooking and is not suitable for using with vegetables like tomatoes, citrus juice or spices.”2 On the other hand, the researchers also noted that foil can be considered safe to wrap cold foods, since no leaching was observed without heating. They also did not find a difference if the shiny or dull side were in contact with food.
This happens because the presence of aluminum impedes calcium deposition in bone, thus leading to elevated blood calcium levels.3 As a result, PTH secretion, the hormone secreted by the parathyroid hormone, is greatly depressed.3 Additionally, chronic aluminum toxicity greatly reduces osteoblast population and inhibits bone mineralization, resulting in osteoporosis.3
- Never cook, heat up, or place hot food on aluminum foil. Use foil only to store cold food in the refrigerator, or to wrap cold sandwiches. I use tempered glass pans. They are easily available in just about every supermarket or hardware store.
- Avoid storing tomatoes, citrus fruits, or spices in foil.
- Replace foil with wax paper if you wish to store food while still hot. Or use glass food storage containers. I keep a variety of sizes handy in my kitchen.
- Never use aluminum pots or cooking utensils. Instead, invest in stainless steel pots and pans.