Is It Safe To Cook In The Microwave

What you don’t need to fear, but you need to know

The microwave oven was invented in the fifties of the last century in order to heat up food and defrost food – conveniently, simply and, most importantly, quickly. Since then, a century has changed, millions of stoves have been sold in the world, but many still doubt the safety of this device. What if radiation is harmful to health and deprives food of nutrients? We find out how electromagnetic waves affect the quality of food and what rules should be followed when using a microwave.

HOW THE MICROWAVE OVEN WORKS

Microwave ovens are kitchen appliances that convert electrical energy into microwave radiation. Microwave radiation, generated by a special device called a magnetron, stimulates the molecules of the food placed in the oven, causing them to move and collide with each other, due to which their temperature rises and, consequently, the food is heated. Microwaves primarily affect water molecules, but they also successfully cope with the heating of particles of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.

The word “radiation” does not sound harmless, so the debate about the appropriateness of microwaves in the kitchen has been going on since the day they were invented. However, this is not the type of radiation that is associated with atomic bombs and nuclear disasters. Microwaves are electromagnetic or light waves with a non-ionizing frequency, in other words, they do not cause chemical transformations. A mobile phone and electric light also produce electromagnetic radiation, albeit at a low intensity. And since there is nowhere to escape from radiation today, it makes sense to periodically rest from them and always follow the safety rules.

Microwaves have protective screens (the so-called “mica” inside and a film on the door) that prevent radiation from escaping from the oven, and there will be no harm from radiation if you do not have the habit of watching the rotation of the plate from a distance of 30 cm or pressing your nose against the door, while reheating food. Also make sure your microwave oven is in good working order. If it’s old, broken, or the door doesn’t close properly, it’s time to fork out for a new one.

HOW MICROWAVE AFFECTS FOOD

Speaking about the effects of microwaves on food, it is worth remembering that any form of cooking reduces the nutritional value. The main “killers” of vitamins and nutrients are temperature, time and method of preparation.

Since everything happens faster and with less heat in a microwave oven, you can expect food to retain more nutrients in it, as opposed to frying or boiling on a conventional stove. Usually the temperature in the microwave does not exceed 100 ° C – the boiling point of water. What is important for losing weight is that you can cook without fats and oils.

Experiments with 20 different vegetables have shown that microwaving and baking in a conventional oven preserve the most antioxidants, while boiling or cooking under a lid is the worst. However, scientists have also found that 97% of the flavonoid antioxidants in broccoli are destroyed by microwave defrosting, while only 66% are destroyed by boiling. This study is often cited as evidence that microwaves destroy food, when in fact it only says that the water in frozen foods accelerates the breakdown of nutrients, since H2O molecules are most heated by microwave radiation.

In addition, microwave processing can reduce the formation of harmful compounds in some foods. According to one study, microwaved bacon produced minimal nitrosamine (a compound formed when nitrites in fatty foods are heated) compared to other cooking methods. The same is true with chicken – much less carcinogens are formed in the microwave than when frying.

HOW TO REHEAT/COOK FOOD IN THE MICROWAVE

When placing plastic containers in the microwave, be aware that some plastics contain substances that destroy hormones. A prime example is bisphenol-A, which has been accused of conniving at a variety of diseases, from thyroid problems to obesity.

Rule number one: never put a plastic container in a microwave oven unless it is labeled as safe to use. Use heat-resistant plastic or thick glass utensils for microwaves and never metal utensils.

Of course, microwave ovens have disadvantages. For example, they are not as effective in killing bacteria and other pathogens that lead to food poisoning. It is also important to be careful when heating liquids and not to place foods that could explode, such as eggs, in the oven.

In general, the use of microwaves brings more conveniences to life than disadvantages, but if you are seriously concerned about a healthy lifestyle, you can easily do without them – the choice is dictated by personal priorities.