Over 90% of American homes have microwave ovens used for meal preparation. That’s because we love anything that’s a convenience. But before you microwave that next meal you may want to consider the toll that it could be taking on your health.
Microwave Ovens Reduce the Nutrients in Food
Whenever you heat food there will be some nutrient loss, but microwaves heat food differently than your oven or stove. The way it makes your food hot causes internal damage to delicate molecular structures of vitamins and phytonutrients (plant medicines). Minerals are largely unaffected, so you’ll still get the same magnesium, calcium and zinc in microwaved foods as you would in non-microwaved foods. But the all-important B vitamins, anthocyanins, flavonoids, phenolic compounds, glucosinolates, and other nutritional elements are easily destroyed by microwave ovens.
Microwaving Food Can Causes Toxins to Leach into Food
Toxic chemicals such as polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene, toluene, and xylene have been found to leak from the packaging of common microwavable foods, including pizzas, chips, and popcorn.
Bisphenol A (BPA) is one of the worst contaminants. This estrogen-like compound is widely used in plastic products and has been linked to causing various types of cancer. When you cook with plastic in the microwave, harmful BPA’s may be seeping into your food since they are more easily absorbed when heated. If you choose to heat your food with a microwave, make sure to always heat it in a glass container.
Microwaving Food Can Lead to ‘Hot Spots’
“Hot spots” in microwaved food can be hot enough to cause burns—or build up to a “steam explosion.” This has resulted in admonitions to new mothers about NOT using the microwave to heat up baby bottles, since babies have been burned by super-heated formula that went undetected.
There are many alternatives to microwave cooking that are just as easy and convenient to use, depending on the dish being prepared. Options include:
- Toaster ovens
- Convection ovens
- Slow cookers
- Electric grills
While most of us won’t throw out our microwave, there are suggestions to minimize the dangers. Make sure your microwave oven is a modern, efficient design and try to minimize its use. Small tasks such as thawing food can easily be accomplished without the use of a microwave, further reducing the risks without losing the convenience of microwave preparation.