Microwave Ovens-How Safe Are They?
How do you do your cooking? Do you use the microwave too often or have reserved it only for few dishes? You see, cooking with a microwave is hassle free and very convenient. You can cook up stuff really fast without stirring or flipping the food. There are some people who think that harmful radiation is produced by the microwave oven can damage the food’s healthy nutrients. Come on, let us find out the truth!
A look at the way a microwave oven functions
A microwave oven turns electric energy into microwaves, which are electromagnetic waves. These waves make food molecules vibrate and clash with each other, turning the energy into heat. Microwaves work on water molecules but they can heat up oils, fats and sugars too.
Is the radiation harmful?
It is always thought that radiation is dangerous. Yes, microwave ovens do produce electromagnetic radiation but the type of radiation produced is not the type that is linked to atomic and nuclear bombs! 😛 The radiation produced by a microwave is akin to that produced by a mobile phone, it is just that the radiation is more stronger.
Do you know that even light is electromagnetic radiation, so you need to drive away the thought that ‘all radiation is bad’. Moreover, the metal shield inside the microwave oven prevents the radiation from escaping. So, there is no risk of any harm due to it. But to be on the safe side, keep your head at least 30 cm away from the oven. Do make sure that your microwave oven is in good shape. If it is damaged or broken, get a new one.
What is effect of microwave cooking on the nutrients of foods?
The truth is that the nutrient value of food is reduced by every form of cooking. High temperatures, long cooking time and adding water to the food are the main factors. Microwave ovens do well in all the three factors so they retain more nutrients when compared to other cooking methods like frying and boiling. However, there are a few exceptions to this. A minute of microwaving of garlic destroys the cancer fighting compounds in it whereas it takes 45 minutes to destroy it in a conventional oven. Similarly, more amounts of antioxidants in broccoli are destroyed when they are microwaved.
Well, generally speaking, the microwave oven preserves nutrients better than other cooking methods but there are a few exceptions.
There is less formation of harmful compounds while using a microwave
The first advantage of using a microwave is that the food isn’t heated up as it is done in frying. The temperature doesn’t go above 100 degree Celsius which is water’s boiling point. A study shows that less harmful compounds are formed when chicken is microwaved instead of being fried.
Thus, microwaving your food is a good idea if you want to reduce the formation of harmful compound that form due to cooking food at high temperatures.
Avoid using plastic containers
Do not use a plastic container to microwave your food unless it is microwave safe. Plastics have compounds that can disrupt hormones. One of it is BPA, which is linked to diseases like obesity, cancer and thyroid disorders.
You should avoid using plastic containers for heating, be it any heating method.
To eliminate bacteria, heat your food properly
Microwaves are not as effective as other methods of cooking in killing bacteria and harmful pathogens. Due to lower heat and short cooking time the food gets heated unevenly. To make sure that the heat is spread more evenly, try using a microwave with a rotating turntable. The food should be heated sufficiently to kill all the harmful microbes.
Special care should be taken while heating liquids. There have been reports of cups ‘exploding’ when heated above the boiling temperature. 😛
The bottom line
So, the bottom line is that a microwave oven is a quite safe, convenient and effective way of cooking food. There is no evidence that shows that it can cause harm as long as you take the necessary precautions.
Do you use the microwave oven to cook food?
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