When I was growing up, every home had a black frying pan. The blacker it was, the better for frying chicken. That chicken was cooked right to the bone. Some folks even ate the bones.
During World War II, there was a song titled, “Save the Bones for Henry Jones, Cause Henry Don’t Eat No Meat.” There was a scarcity of meat at that time.
Whether we knew it or not, the element iron was leached out of that frying pan and was absorbed into the foods. This may have been a blessing, as it prevented iron deficiency anemia.
Generally, iron is not a toxic metal unless you have a disease known as hemochromatosis. This medical condition prevents the body from excreting iron, thus causing toxicity to build up in many organs of the body, including the heart or liver. I would say the “old” frying pan is still safe to cook in.
In a musical I wrote called Oh! Oh! Obesity, there is a final scene in the church basement where the minister is conducting a “Watch Your Weight” program. A sister named Fatsie gets up to sing the finale, “I Fried and I Fried.” The lyrics go something like this:
I fried and I fried, I fried all night long.
I fried and I fried until the chops were gone.
I just couldn’t help from frying.
I just couldn’t help from frying.
I just couldn’t help from frying until the chops were gone.
One thing about that old black frying pan: it was capable of cooking good chicken and keeping your iron stores up. On the market today, however, there are frying pans that might not be as healthy to cook with.
Many chefs love to use copper because it conducts heat quickly, ensuring well- cooked foods. Be aware that excess copper is toxic and can lead to damage in the body. A copper frying pan should have a protective coating on the inside to prevent the copper from leaching into the food.
A lot of folks use aluminum frying pans. These pans are safe as long as there are not signs of pitting and crusting. Aluminum may be linked to Alzheimer’s disease, although there is no conclusive evidence. More folks are subjected to excess aluminum in foods, water, antacids and medications. However, be careful using aluminum to prepare foods over your outdoor grill. You may be getting more aluminum than you bargained for. Be careful also of the fumes produced by the fat and hot coals that are absorbed in your tasty burgers.
When traveling in foreign countries, you may have brought home a beautiful ceramic cooking pot. Often, the paints used for decoration contain high levels of lead. Unless the pot has a statement saying it is lead-free, beware of lead toxicity.
You may have heard it said about people who get away with a crime, that they are like Teflon. That’s because, like the frying pans made from Teflon, nothing sticks to them. A frying pan that contains a silicone surface can help produce healthful meals because less cooking oil is needed. But keep in mind that Teflon is made from perfluro-octanoic acid. This chemical has not been tested thoroughly for toxicity, and Dupont, the manufacturer of Teflon, is phasing it out. For safety, do not fry in these pans over very high heat and replace them if they become chipped.
So the next time you cook some tasty vittles, be aware of the pots you use to fill up your potbelly.
For more health tips and access to an online community of physicians and other healthcare professionals visit: DrDeas.com/.