Health

Why Cast Iron Is The Only Pan You Need

| by Lauren Briggs
Cornbread in a cast ironCornbread in a cast iron

When it comes to the kitchen, it seems like there's a new miracle product that catches on every other week. People become obsessed with it and tell you how it'll solve all your problems, but it usually ends up in the back of your cabinet, forgotten.

The truth is, there is one of these miracle products out there that's easy to use, lasts forever and can even improve your health. The best part? You might already have on in your kitchen.

That gadget is the tried and true cast iron skillet. Not only can it withstand high heats including grills and ovens, but the heavy bottom ensures even cooking that will brown your food perfectly. Plus, you can use metal utensils with it, since it won't scratch like a nonstick.

Even high-end ceramic-coated, non-stick/Teflon, aluminum and copper cookware can leach toxic chemicals into your food, particularly as the coating begins to wear off, a process that typically starts after a year or so, notes Eat Local Grown. But a bare cast iron pan doesn't have any of that bad stuff.

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It's also a lot cheaper than other "safe" cookware like stainless steel, which can cost in the range of $120, while a similar cast iron pan won't run you more than $40, if that, according to Q Political.

The only thing it might leach into your food is iron, something that you might not even know that you need.

According to the World Health Organization, up to 80 percent of people around the world could have an iron deficiency, making it the most common nutritional ailment in the world. Meanwhile, approximately 30 percent of people have anemia from chronically low iron. While people might not even realize that their iron levels have dipped, they still might experience symptoms including fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, headaches, the desire to chew on ice, cold hands and feet and pale skin.

The substance is found in foods like meat, seafood and leafy greens, and cooking in a cast iron skillet can actually add a little more iron to your diet. While The Kitchn notes that it is difficult to measure exactly how much extra iron your food picks up through this cooking method, you'll likely get the most bang for your buck using a newer pan and cooking acidic foods like tomatoes that encourage the leaching process.

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Some people might say that cast iron pans are a pain to clean, but it's actually a cinch. Just remember, avoid using soap on it unless you really have to, as it will cut through the seasoning, which creates a naturally nonstick surface. Here's the best method, according to The Kitchn:

After you use it, you'll want to clean it right away, so that it keeps from getting rusted and the food comes off easily. Just use warm water and a sponge or brush, and scrub with some kosher salt if you have some stuck-on food.

Sources: Q Political, Eat Local Grown, The Kitchn (2), World Health Organization / Photo credit: Douglas P Perkins/Wikimedia Commons

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