Microwave Cooking Unsafe: Fact Or Myth?

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Published on: 10-Mar-2023

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Updated on : 30-Nov-2023

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Harsimran Kaur

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Microwave Cooking Unsafe: Fact Or Myth?

Microwave Cooking Unsafe: Fact Or Myth?

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Where there is a necessity, there is an invention for better lives. And one such creation is the microwave.

Since the invention of the microwave, things have become convenient. Heating the leftover food or cooking something afresh is now suitable when you have less time in your busy schedule. But with this innovation came a doubt if using microwaves is safe. 

You must have heard from various sources that using microwaves causes different medical conditions like cancer and is not suitable for our health, but is it true or just a myth? Let us read the blog and clear a few doubts regarding microwave ovens.

Table Of Contents

1. Microwaves: An Overview

2. Myth: Microwaves Cause Cancer

3. Fact: Microwaves Can Change The Nutrient Content Of Food

4. Myth: Microwaves Emit Harmful Radiation

5. Fact: Microwaves Can Cause Food To Become Overheated

6. Dietitian’s  Recommendations

7. The Final Say

8. FAQs

Microwaves: An Overview

Microwave cooking is a method of cooking food using microwave energy. It is a quick and convenient way to heat up food and has become a staple in many kitchens. You can use it to prepare various weight loss meals. They work by emitting non-ionizing radiation, which excites the water molecules in food and generates heat. This heat is transferred to the surrounding food, cooking it from the inside out. 

Microwave cooking has several advantages, like reducing cooking time, preserving nutrients and flavours, and reducing energy consumption. It also protects your food from being burnt as it turns off automatically on time of your preference. It is the best appliance to heat dry dishes, which often stick to the pan in an attempt. Additionally, it does not produce flames, so your kids can operate it safely. 

However, there are also some concerns about the safety and quality of microwave-cooked food, which are mainly myths. Generally, microwave cooking seems safe if you use it correctly and according to the instructions. 

Myth: Microwaves Cause Cancer

One of the most common concerns about microwave cooking is it can cause cancer. However, there is no scientific evidence to prove this claim true. 

As per the  World Health Organization (WHO), there is no evidence that microwave ovens are hazardous to human health. These ovens emit non-ionizing radiation, a type of energy that is not strong enough to break chemical bonds and is not known to be harmful to human health. The amount of non-ionizing radiation emitted by ovens is within safe limits set by international guidelines.

Fact: Microwaves Can Change The Nutrient Content Of Food

Studies have shown that microwave cooking can alter the nutrient content of food. For example, research conducted by the Department of Food Science and Technology at the University of Massachusetts found that microwave cooking can reduce the vitamin C content of vegetables by up to 60%. 

Another study by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that microwave cooking can reduce the levels of antioxidants in some foods. However, these nutrients are volatile, so any cooking method can destroy these nutrients if not cooked as per the guidelines. 

Moreover, the flavonoid content of vegetables gets strongly affected by domestic cooking. In contrast, to which a study evaluated the effects of domestic cooking on the structurally complex flavonoids in broccoli. Here, raw broccoli was cooked by boiling, steaming and microwaving. 

Myth: Microwaves Emit Harmful Radiation

As microwaves emit non-ionizing radiation, according to the WHO, this type of radiation is not known to be harmful to human health. The radiation emitted by a microwave oven is very low and within safe limits set by international guidelines.

Fact: Microwaves Can Cause Food To Become Overheated

While the microwave is a convenient and quick cooking method, it can sometimes cause food to become overheated, which can result in the release of harmful substances, like acrylamide, a carcinogenic chemical found in high-heat cooked foods. 

Therefore, following the instructions on microwave-safe packaging and avoiding overheating food to reduce the risk of acrylamide formation is necessary.

Dietitian’s Recommendation

Microwave cooking is a safe and convenient way to prepare food. However, one must use microwave-safe containers and follow the instructions on the packaging to reduce the risk of harm. Additionally, it is essential to avoid overheating food in the oven, which can cause the release of harmful substances.

Microwave cooking should not be the only method used, as other cooking methods, like grilling, baking, and stir-frying, also provide different nutrients and health benefits. 

Dieititian Aditi Upadhyay

The Final Say

While there are concerns about the safety and quality of microwave cooking, the available evidence suggests that these concerns are mostly myths. As long as microwave cooking is done correctly and with the instructions, it is a safe food cookery option. 

However, it is always a good idea to use different cooking methods to ensure a balanced diet that provides all the nutrients you need.

FAQs

1. Does microwave cooking cause cancer? 

No, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that microwave cooking causes cancer. According to the World Health Organization, no evidence is there to prove that microwave ovens are hazardous to human health.

2. Does microwave cooking emit harmful radiation? 

Microwaves emit non-ionizing radiation, a type of energy that is not strong enough to break chemical bonds. However, this type of radiation is not known to be harmful to human health, and the amount emitted by microwave ovens is well within safe limits set by international guidelines.

3. Does microwave cooking alter the nutrient content of food? 

Yes, studies have shown that microwave cooking can alter the nutrient content of food. For example, it can reduce the vitamin C content of vegetables and the levels of antioxidants in some foods.

4. Can microwaves cause food to become overheated? 

Yes, microwaves can sometimes cause food to become overheated, which can result in releasing harmful substances like acrylamide. And to reduce the risk of acrylamide formation, it is essential to follow the instructions on microwave-safe packaging and avoid overheating food.

5. What are the disadvantages of using microwaves?

One problem with microwaves is that you cannot use all types of materials and utensils inside them. If the bowl is not microwave-safe, it can create a chemical reaction between the food and the bowl, making the dish harmful or uneatable. Additionally, you can cook less food inside them because of less capacity, which makes it a not-so-suitable option for big families.

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