Does cookware material have an effect on toxicity or other illness?

We have heard from various word-of-mouth sources that some individuals get sick (diarrhea with or without vomiting) after eating chaya that has been cooked in aluminum pots. Has anyone observed this? What would the chemical reaction be that’s causing this? Why does it seem that some people get sick and others do not?

Wow … NO replies! Well, if the people who got sick at it raw, or undercooked, and in large enough quantities, then I’d suppose they got sick from the cyanide. Have you learned anymore of this in the year since you posted your question?

" The reason it shouldn’t be cooked in an aluminum pot is the possibility of a toxic reaction that can result in diarrhea"

This is an extract from an article by Andrew Weil, M.D.

Probably best to be safe than sorry.


It took me awhile to get back to this. Sorry about that, Brad. :slight_smile:

Here is the start of an ECHOcommunity collection speaking to the issue of cookware.

Network Member Margaret Tagwira who works with chaya in Zimbabwe shared the following:

Many people here use "naked " aluminum pots that have not been anodized. Anodizing treats the aluminum and makes it resistant to corrosion.
When Chaya leaves are cut and boiled, an acid hydrogen cyanide is formed and when acidic foods are cooked in untreated aluminum pots, aluminum dissolves in the acid and would then be ingested potentially on daily basis. Protecting people from ingesting aluminum is the main reason aluminum cookware is coated.
I would say this would not affect the developed world much as they may never use “naked” aluminum cookware but for the third world, caution is important.

We shared this at our weekly Technical Response Unit meeting and brainstormed some ideas.

  • Perhaps a local entrepreneur could start a business anodizing aluminum cooking pots? Does anyone have experience doing this with local resources?
  • Perhaps a University food lab could test to see if there are compounds bound in the chaya when it’s cooked in anodized vs. non-anodized aluminum pots?
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