Gas stoves raise indoor nitrogen dioxide levels. This chemical irritates children's breathing passages, especially kids with asthma. Choose an induction cooktop instead. They don't emit any chemicals into the air in your home. The smooth surfaces make them a snap to clean, too.
Whether your oven is gas or electric, cooking at high temperatures or using the self-cleaning function can release harmful fumes into your home. A well-ventilated kitchen can help dispel them. Use your range hood fan, open a window, or flip on a ceiling fan when you cook at high temps or clean your oven.
The coatings on nonstick pans may contain chemicals that could raise the risk for some cancers and for thyroid and immune problems. High temperatures can release these harmful substances into the air that you, your family, and your pets breathe. Reserve these pans for use at low to medium heat. And get rid of scratched ones. The coating can flake into your food. For safe cooking at all temps, use cast iron, enameled cast iron, or stainless steel.
Some water sources have unhealthy chemicals or metals like lead in them. A filtration system helps reduce these contaminants in your tap water. Choose a point-of-entry system that treats water where the outdoor pipe enters your house. Pitchers or refrigerator filters may change water's taste but not make it safer to drink.
Bisphenol A (BPA), a chemical in some plastic containers, could harm brain health in babies and children and raise blood pressure in adults. Look for recyclable plastics with safe, BPA-free codes 1, 2, 4, or 5. Containers with codes 3, 6, or 7 may contain BPA, vinyl, or other unhealthy chemicals.
Plastic in food storage containers or takeout boxes can break down if you zap it in the microwave when you reheat your leftovers. High temperatures wear down the plastic. To be safe, don't microwave food in plastic containers.
Raw meat or poultry may carry harmful bacteria like salmonella. If you like to stuff and truss a raw turkey on a cutting board, use one made of nonporous materials like glass, ceramic, or marble. If you use a wooden cutting board, go for bamboo. It's harder and more resistant to bacteria than other types of wood.
Wash any cutting board with hot, soapy water after each use. You can also soak boards in a solution of 1 tablespoon of liquid bleach per 1 gallon of water. Rinse the board with clear tap water and pat dry with clean paper towels. Plastic, glass, or solid wooden boards can also go in the dishwasher.
Don't use your pretty cloth kitchen towels to wipe countertops. Cloth towels can harbor bacteria like salmonella even if you rinse them well. Use paper towels or new, clean cloth towels to wipe kitchen surfaces. Wash cloth towels in bleach or disinfectants before you use them again.
Clean your fridge regularly. Clean up spills inside the fridge right away. If you have food that gets recalled, throw it out along with all nearby foods. Remove drawers and shelves, and clean them in hot, soapy water or a bleach/water solution. Wash the inside of your fridge too. Dry surfaces with paper or clean towels.
Some people set their fridge at temperatures too warm to prevent bacteria from growing on their food. Make sure yours is set no higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Set your freezer to zero to protect frozen foods.
Do you grind food scraps in the garbage disposal? Bacteria lurk in those dark depths. Once a month, scrub the inside and the rubber splash guard with a long-handled brush and chlorinated cleaning powder. No need to rinse. Let the cleanser sit there until the next time you grind to kill the germs.
With the right kitchen gadgets, you can make healthier snacks and meals. A veggie spiralizer turns zucchini into zoodles, a nutrient-packed pasta substitute. Airflow dehydrators turn fresh fruit into crunchy dried snacks. The pulse setting on a food processor will turn raw cauliflower into low-carb veggie “rice” for stir-fry dishes.
Renovating your kitchen? Consider healthier materials. Some composite wood cabinetry contains toxic formaldehyde, which may play a role in cancer risk. Choose cabinetry with no added or low-emitting formaldehyde. Granite, slate, or salvaged wood countertops are safer than laminate, which may emit formaldehyde.
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- Epidemiology: “Household levels of nitrogen dioxide and pediatric asthma severity.”
- FreshEnergy.org: “Electric cooktops: they’re not what they used to be.”
- California Air Resources Board: “Indoor Air Pollution From Cooking.”
- Minnesota Pollution Control Agency: “Are you cooking with these? Cookware considerations.”
- FoodPrint.org: “Teflon Pan Safety: What You Need to Know About Nonstick Pans.”
- Environmental Protection Agency: “Basic Information on PFAS.”
- Environmental Health Insights: “Potential Effectiveness of Point-of-Use Filtration to Address Risks to Drinking Water in the United States.”
- CDC: “Choosing Home Water Filters and Other Water Treatment Systems,” “Foods That Can Cause Food Poisoning,” “5 Steps to Clean Your Refrigerator.”
- Mayo Clinic: “What is BPA, and what are the concerns about BPA?”
- Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics: “How to Use Plastic Food Storage Containers.”
- U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service: “Cutting Boards and Food Safety.”
- Cleveland Clinic: “9 Places Germs Are Lurking in Your Kitchen.”
- FDA: “Refrigerator Thermometers: Cold Facts About Food Safety.”
- North Dakota State University: “Is Food in My Kitchen a Safety Hazard?”
- University of Rochester Medical Center: “In the Kitchen: Prevent the Spread of Infection.”
- HealWithFood.org: “Tools and Gadgets for a Healthy Kitchen.”
- Environmental Working Group: “Kitchen Cabinets and Countertops.”