The microwave and your health

el microondas y los alimentos

The microwave contains a vacuum tube called a magnetron that produces microwave waves. These radiation waves are located between the radio waves and the infrared waves. The microwave waves make the water molecules present in the food rotate, and when they rotate, by friction they heat the molecules around them, as a consequence, a food heating is produced.

If you doubt how to heat food and if you should fry with olive oil or other oil, our next article may interest you: The best oil for frying

Is microwave cooking healthy?

There is a great deal of debate and research as to whether cooking or heating portions of food with microwaves destroys more or less nutrients than other culinary techniques. However, if you analyze this function, the product cooked in a microwave is subjected for less time to high temperatures, so the food should be less damaged and keep more nutrients.

Another thing is that the use of the microwave does not taste as good in the kitchen and the dishes come out more delicious cooking them over low heat. What the researchers agree is that the microwave waves are too weak to break chemical bonds or produce changes in the structure of molecules and are not ionizing.

Characteristics of the microwave:

  • Rapid heating of food:

The microwave heats food very quickly from the surface to the inside.

On the other hand, when the outer part of the food is heated first, it also heats the part of the container that is in contact with it, so care must be taken when picking up the container and not getting burnt.

  • The microwave does not destroy bacteria:

The heat from the microwave does not penetrate the inside of the product, as happens with other culinary techniques, so it does not kill possible bacteria in the food. Therefore, care must be taken if the food is not very fresh or not properly handled.

  • Food loses its natural taste when using the microwave:

Since heating is not uniform, various chemical compounds evaporate quickly and without uniformity, causing a loss or modification of the food’s natural flavor. In addition, it leaves parts colder than others. For this reason, it is recommended to let the food rest once cooked or heated, in order to achieve a more uniform dispersion of its temperature.

  • Food dehydrates more quickly:

Microwave waves only make the water molecules vibrate, so they are the first to evaporate, obtaining a quick superficial dehydration of the food.

In terms of comparing the loss of nutrients that occurs when a product is cooked in the microwave with other culinary techniques, there are numerous studies that are for and against.

One of the most repeated articles against the use of the microwave, was the article published in 2003 in the magazine “The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture”, showing that when cooking broccoli in the microwave, the broccoli lost 97% of its antioxidants, compared to a broccoli steamed, being its loss only 11%. However, a later investigation attributed these bad results to an overcooked broccoli, assuring that if the broccoli was cooked in the microwave for a more reasonable time, its losses of antioxidants were much lower.

Other articles published in “The Journal of Nutrition” against the use of the microwave, shows how the anti-cancer components of garlic lose their effectiveness after 60 seconds in a microwave and also that heating milk in the microwave removes 40% of vitamin B12.

Is the microwave good or bad?

What is clear is that any culinary technique will eliminate nutrients, vitamins and antioxidants. But we should not obsess too much, whether or not we should use the microwave.

The important thing is to provide our daily diet with the greatest amount of nutrients and that the food we eat is fresh, natural and unmanipulated, avoiding overheating them. I recommend using culinary techniques that do not subject the food to temperatures higher than 100 °C, this way we will not achieve harmful decompositions or transformations of the food. Therefore, boiling food, steaming or frying with a good extra virgin olive oil will always be the best culinary options. In addition, these techniques are tastier.

Finally, if you use the microwave, use glass or ceramic containers without drawings or special plastics for the microwave. Other containers not prepared for the microwave can transmit harmful components to the food.



El Confidencial. Siete razones por las que deberías dejar de usar el microondas

The Huffington Post:

Der Spiegel:Wir machen uns mal frei die Angst vor der Mikrowelle.

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