Use of aluminum kitchen utensils: A luxury detrimental to (…)

For decades already, aluminum has been used in the manufacture of kitchen utensils. Today, it is one of the most used containers in cooking food. From then on, it never ceases to amaze its users. But, the question of the metal’s toxicity to humans becomes more than a concern. Because, in spite of the services it renders to the cook, it can prove to be dangerous for health.

Light, less expensive, easy to clean, pleasant conductor of heat, aluminum is perceived today as the most interesting utensil for cooking. Used for the manufacture of many types of kitchen utensils, it is present in almost every kitchen in the 21st century. With modernity, there are many people today who can no longer do without these types of utensils for cooking. To analyze their interest in relation to the use of this metal for the kitchen, it is necessary to realize that many are unaware of the possible dangers associated with it. Scientific studies have shown that aluminum is “a soft metal” and therefore containers made from it can be fragile.

But, in terms of its dangerousness, some users of kitchen utensils made of aluminum believe that during cooking, there is a transfer of aluminum between the container used for cooking and its contents. “When cooking in aluminum pots, under the effect of heat, the aluminum enters the food. reveals Fidèle Dagbé, a young cook. Speaking about this same aspect, Bernadette Adjanohoun, a shopkeeper in her sixties, associates the perforation of these types of pots with the dissolution of aluminum in foods during cooking. “Every time aluminum gets into food after preparation, the pot becomes more and more fragile. So by dint of putting it on fire, it loses part of the metal used for its manufacture. This loss added to that generated during cleaning, the pot ends up being pierced, ”she suggested.

Aluminum, a slow poison for health

If for several years, aluminum has been considered a non-toxic substance for the human body, it is urgent to understand that with the evolution of the world, the situation has changed. Indeed, being a chemical element and a useless substance for the health of living beings, its introduction into the human body raises many concerns. Even if, according to studies, once in the blood, it is filtered by the kidneys and eliminated by the urine, “20% escape this filtering and then lodge in the bones, the lungs and the liver as well as in the brain. However, the element resists for several years and can accumulate”, specifies Roger Deloncle, chemist at the Faculty of Pharmacy of Tour in an article published on the website of Santé magazine through the link: www.santemagasine.fr/santé /environmental-health/aluminium-a-danger-to-our-health-176492. Also, documentary research carried out on other health internet sites, reveal that the increase in the level of aluminum accumulated in the body, would be at the origin of Alzheimer’s disease which destroys memory and other important mental functions. According to the nutritionist Jacques Gbadessi, “the toxic effects of aluminum essentially concern the central nervous system (encephalopathy, psychomotor disorders) and bone tissue”. This being said, the aluminum that dissolves daily in meals cooked in aluminum pots or in aluminum foil can prove to be very dangerous for the human body over the years.

Everything to reduce the effects of aluminum

Thus, taking into account the possible damage that its presence can cause in the human body, it must be recognized that it is imperative to find means capable of reducing the exposure of humans to aluminum in the diet. Due to the fragility of the metal, it would be less prudent to use old aluminum pots in the kitchen. The trader, Bernadette Adjanohoun tries to draw the attention of users to this aspect of the thing. In this regard, she explains: “Used cooking pots are more or less favorable to the penetration of aluminum into meals. Since it is destroyed over time in contact with heat, it becomes more and more fragile. By putting this pan on the fire, the aluminum can easily migrate into the meals”. It would therefore be better to avoid cooking in used pots. The other effort that seems to be necessary for users of aluminum kitchen utensils is to avoid cooking foods whose substances are favorable to the absorption of the chemical element. According to nutritionists, there is a link between the increase in the rate of aluminum that can migrate in meals and the type of substance that the food contains. “The concentration of aluminum increases considerably in salty, sweet or acidic foods, especially tomato sauce. The fact of preparing a tomato sauce in an aluminum saucepan can contribute to the presence of 4 milligrams of aluminum in each portion served,” said nutritionist Jacques Gbadessi.

Terracotta utensils, the magic solution!

Instead of choosing the type of food taking into account the container, the radical solution proposed by nutritionists is to avoid the use of aluminum containers by opting for those made of iron, stainless steel or clay. “If you have the possibility of offering iron or stainless steel pans, opt for this choice. The passage of iron in food, during cooking, makes it possible to prevent anemia due to the absence of iron (so-called iron deficiency anemia) at a lower cost”, can we read in an article published on one of the sites Internet consulted during the documentary research carried out on the subject. Since clay pots are more present on the African market and particularly on the Beninese market, the possibility of buying them for use in the kitchen seems easier.

Moreover, because of the many qualities conferred on them by the element used for their manufacture, terracotta pots are those suggested by many people after research on the subject. For these people, clay being a natural element, it does not contain any harmful substance that can migrate into meals during cooking and therefore has no health consequences. The nutritionist Jacques Gbadessi did not fail to come back to the virtues of clay in terms of food. “Cooking in clay pots allows food to be cooked in its own juice, so nutrients and vitamins are truly preserved.” According to him, the nutritional substances contained in a food cooked in pottery remain intact until the end of cooking. Clearly, it is the perfect escape in the Beninese context from the penetration of aluminum into the human body. However, with the new generation much more inclined towards modernism, for the moment, the return to the use of earthenware cookware in Benin in particular and on the African continent in general seems to be a utopia. But, you never know…

Sandrine Amoussou & Nadine Béhanzin (Trainee)

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