Are Microwaves Save?
Posted by Gail | Filed under Interesting World
I’m a big-batch cooker. From time to time I put to and make a mess of food, putting it in individual containers in the freezer. This saves me time when I don’t want to have to start from scratch. And since I’m the best mama ever, I end up stuffing my children’s freezers with my lasagna, veggie chili, mac and cheese, stew and soups.
When I reheat, I typically just throw whatever I’m cooking into a ceramic dish and nuke it. I love my microwave. But how safe is it, really?
I’ve was told by a friend that microwave ovens shouldn’t be used to heat water for tea because the microwave tears apart the molecules and ruins the water. I’ve been told that if you have cancer in your family you should lose the microwave ovens. And I’ve been told that eating microwaved food can interfere with hormone production.
That’s all a load of hooey.
Microwave ovens have been around for about sixty years now and they’re damn convenient. I use mine to defrost, steam my veggies and rewarm left-overs. I’ve even baked the odd cake-in-a-cup when I’ve become desperate for chocolate cake and the stores have all closed!
Microwave ovens heat food by producing electromagnetic radiation, which is absorbed by water molecules in the food. The water molecules vibrate and produce heat, which cooks the food. That’s why food with more water in ‘em, like veggies, cook more quickly.
That radiation is one reason why we sometimes refer to it as nuking our food… but that’s probably a bad term to use if you want to believe microwaves aren’t bad for you, right?
Radiation is the release of energy from any source. Not all radiation is harmful. Non ionising radiation has enough energy to move things around inside a cell but not enough to change cells chemically. The radiation from a microwave oven is non-ionizing, much like radio waves and the radiation waves given off by computers and their screens.
But what about the food cooked in a microwave. Have you wondered if foods become less nutritious when microwaved than when cooked on the stove top or in a regular oven?
Researchers say that microwaved foods may be better for you since microwaving results in less loss of nutrients compared with boiling and frying. Turns out water-soluble nutrients like many B vitamins and vitamin C are not leached out of the food when they are microwaved since food cooks quickly, and those nutrients are less exposed to the heat.
There are some nutrients that become more potent when exposed to heat, like lycopene in tomatoes and beta-carotene in carrots. For those, stove-top or oven roasting will make they better for you nutritionally. And the taste, well, the taste of roasted anything really, right? I make a slow roasted tomato, garlic and red pepper pasta sauce with basil that keeps summer in my kitchen all winter long.
The idea is to pick the cooking method that works best for you time-wise and for the nutrients in your food. Boiling and stir-frying may actually be the worst for your vegetables. Putting broccoli in water, for example, destroys it because it’s nutrients are water soluble. And stir-frying it means exposure to high heat, which may rob it of nutrition too. So steam or nuke that sucker. If you like your veggies boiled, save the water and use it to cook your rice or to make your gravy so you don’t pour the nutrients down the drain.
If you’re determined not to have a microwave in your home, that’s fine. To each his own. But if you have a microwave and are happy using it, and someone tries to tell you that you’re ruining your food or exposing your family to danger, it simply isn’t true.