If there's one thing that real foodies love to see, it's a nice set of cast iron skillets, pots, and pans. They are heavy as sin, but are excellent when it comes to conducting heat. They're easy to clean, sturdy, and known for lasting a lifetime. Word has it that they also add flavor to your food, too.
Among foodies, having a set of cast iron cookware is a status symbol. Now, the same could be said about the health-conscious community, since people are starting to become more aware of the health benefits of using cast iron cookware.
The most obvious health benefit of cast iron cooking is the fact that you avoid gross chemicals.
It's no small secret that most modern cookware comes with chemical coating. Just about every nonstick pan you'll see will have Teflon coating on it. That doesn't sound bad, but when Teflon gets overheated, it deteriorates into known carcinogens called perfluorocarbons, or PFCs for short.
PFCs aren't just linked to cancer, either. They're known for being linked to hormone disruption and liver damage, according to Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.
Cast iron won't be sprayed down with non-stick Teflon coating, even if they have a pretty enamel finish like the ones from LeCreuset. Cast iron is naturally non-stick.
You'll have less chances of accidentally getting food poisoning.
Did you know that one of the leading reasons why people get food poisoning with cooked food is due to uneven heating? A cast iron Dutch oven could help avoid that.
Though cast iron pans are known for cold spots, many health benefits of using cast iron cookware come from the fact that they absolutely help cook food evenly when placed in an oven.
They may actually add iron to your diet.
A surprising amount of people in America are anemic and suffer from health problems relating to iron deficiency. One of the most interesting health benefits of cast iron cookware is the fact that it can actually boost your daily iron intake.
If you cook acidic food in cast iron, you may actually have some of the cookware's iron end up in your food. This adds extra vitamins to your diet, all just from your cooking method. Surprising, isn't it?
That means this cast iron skillet from Smithey could be the best possible way to give your breakfast a boost without needing an iron supplement to do so.
You can use it anywhere.
One of the better mental health benefits of using cast iron cookware is the fact that it can be a huge space saver in a tiny kitchen. If you're claustrophobic like I am, then having less cookware to worry about can be a huge perk for your anxiety.
Since cast iron can be used on open flames, in ovens, and just about everywhere but the microwave, they allow you to cut down on the amount of cookware you need to buy and store.
For example, this petite cast iron skillet set from Artisanal Supply can fit perfectly in a small cupboard, but can be used for just about any recipe you could want.
You also don't have to use crazy chemicals to clean it.
Let's talk about dish soap, shall we? Do we really know what's in dish soap?
In many cases, detergents that have been used by mainstream America have been proven to be filled with artificial colors that have been linked to brain damage and cancers in the past. Even with detergents that we know very well, we can't really be sure of what's contained inside them.
In "How Dangerous Are Pesticides to Cannabis Users?", it was noted that toxicologists will typically tell people that the dose makes the toxin. All those little chemicals can add up to cancer over time, so why take the risk with using random crap to clean your pans?
One of the health benefits of using cast iron cookware is that you can avoid using soaps if you so choose. Just salt and water will typically clean a cast iron wok like the ones from Lodge well enough.
Cast iron is also way more natural than other types of cookware—and we know how it reacts to heat.
Cast iron has been used by chefs for centuries. We have studied it at length. We know the health benefits of using cast iron cookware because it's been around for so long that we've basically studied it to death.
Sadly, we can't say that about a LOT of the other things we use to cook our foods. We only recently realized how bad BPA bottles are for our health, and we've been using them for decades. It took centuries for people to realize lead plates were bad, too.
The younger the cookware is, the more likely it is that it has nasty surprises for us. Cast iron cookware, like the reversible grill from Lodge, is just a lot more "tried and true" in that department.
It can also help improve a weak appetite.
If you listen to a lot of foodies, they'll tell you that a well-seasoned cast iron pan is something of beauty. The seasoning in the pan allegedly helps improve flavor in the food you make, and also provides a beautiful serving method.
People who have sensitive palates will love using cast iron in the kitchen. While this may not be one of the top health benefits of using cast iron cookware, it's definitely a visual and olfactory perk we can enjoy.
You'll end up cooking with less oil.
Everyone knows that there are some serious health benefits of almond oil and other natural oils that you should want to reap—but there's also such a thing as too much of a good thing, you know!
A diet that's too high in oil, particularly trans fats that can be created from overheating oils, can cause serious heart problems. Because cast iron pans are seasoned and oiled up naturally, you won't need to use oil too much in the kitchen.
The end result? Lower calorie counts and better health.
You also don't have to worry about burning food.
Inhaling smoke isn't good! It doesn't matter if it's from cigarettes, factories, or burning food. Smoke irritates the lungs and eyes—and can also contribute to a risk of cancer.
Burning food does release a lot of smoke, and while cast iron pans definitely won't stop unattended food from burning, they can help reduce the amount of uneven heating that food's exposed to.
More even heating means that you end up avoiding puffs of smoke that comes with charring your food. It might be one of the more minor health benefits of using cast iron cookware, but hey, any kind of smoke inhalation you can avoid, you should.
Finally, cooking with cast iron is good for the environment—at least, when you compare it to other options.
Stainless steel involves a complicated process involving making alloys, treating it when chemicals, and compiling everything together. Teflon is filled with bad chemicals. Plastics? Well, if you're cooking with plastic, you're using a petroleum-based product.
All of those also have to be replaced regularly, because they're not too durable. Cast iron is made through a simpler process and lasts a lifetime. So, if you're looking for the environmental health benefits of using cast iron cookware, just know you're helping reduce landfill waste while saying no to shoddy products.