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Do You Know Nutrition: Non-stick skillets may not be as healthy as once believed

Oct. 12, 2010 at 5:12 a.m.

Phylis Canion

I have noticed that my non-stick skillet coating is peeling and flaking off so I am going to get rid of it. I have done a little bit of research on different coatings and now I wonder if I even want to replace it with another one or use something different. What is the coating made of and can it be dangerous? Can you please shed some light on this subject for me?

While the non-stick pans seem to be a wonderful kitchen tool, research indicates that it may not be so good after all. In 2006, the Environmental Protection Agency asked eight American companies to work toward the elimination of perfluorooctanoic acid, a chemical used to bond non-stick coatings to the pan, by 2015. The EPA labeled PFOAs as a likely carcinogen since the acids have been shown to cause cancer, low birth weights and suppressed immune systems in laboratory animals exposed to high levels of the acids.

Once food is cooked above certain temperatures, hotter than the smoke point of oils, non-stick coating will break down and release toxins. I would recommend that you toss the cookware if it is peeling or chipping and grab you a cast iron skillet. The odds are those black specs in your scrambled eggs are not pepper.

I recently had an attack of severe pain in my big toe that was diagnosed as gout. A friend suggested that I drink some black cherry juice. I was amazed at how it helped. Can you please explain what is in black cherry juice that helped me so much?

Gout, a very painful form of arthritis, is caused by high levels of uric acid in the system that result in inflammation, swelling and redness at the affected area. Black cherry juice contains anthocyanin, a chemical that naturally helps relieve inflammation. Anthocyanins are plant-based compounds that contain high levels of antioxidants and are the pigments responsible for the red, purple and blue colors in fruits and vegetables. The top anthocyanin containing foods are black currant, blackberry, blueberry, chokeberry, cranberry, black cherry and the grand poo-bah of all - can you guess it - eggplant. There are 700 milligrams of anthocyanins in a 100-gram serving of eggplant.

Phylis B. Canion is a doctor of naturopathic medicine and is a certified nutritional consultant, e-mail her at doc.phyl@yahoo.com. This column is for nutritional information only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.

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