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Issues with Microwave Ovens

There are two main issues with microwave ovens:

The radiation of the oven itself, and what it is doing to the foods you cook in them.

It is well documented that steaming vegetables will keep more nutrients in the food when compared to boiling them.  Boiling causes the nutrients to leach into the water, which is then discarded, taking the nutrients along with it.  Microwaves, like boiling, cause a loss of nutrients, but not quite in the same way.  The way microwaves heat the food causes a breakdown in the nutrients so even though you end up with the same food and calories, the nutritional value is compromised.

Dangers of microwaves themselves:

The FDA limits the amount of microwave radiation that can leak from a microwave oven throughout its lifetime to 5 milliwatts (mW) per square centimeter at approximately 2 inches from the oven surface. When the microwave is brand new, there is probably not much radiation coming off the appliance, but what about microwaves that are 5 years old?  10 Years old?

The seals break down and radiation gets out. The radiation is measurable.  You can buy a meter from Amazon if you want and literally measure the radiation coming form the microwave.  You can measure it close.  You can walk 20 feet away and still pick it up.  If you really want to have some fun, you can go stand on the other side of the wall while the microwave is running and watch the meter STILL pick up the microwave radiation.

My main concern is what they are doing to the food:

In simple terms, microwaves heat food by creating friction between spinning water molecules. Friction creates the heat.  The generated heat, paired with the spinning water molecules destroy the vitality of the nutrients: amino acids are denatured, fats are oxidized, and heat sensitive enzymes are deactivated.

A study published in the November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture found that broccoli prepared in the microwave lost up to 97 percent of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison, steamed broccoli lost 11 percent or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates in the microwaved broccoli.

Other studies:

General nutrient depletion of fruits and vegetables:

-Davis D R. (February 1, 2009) “Declining fruit and vegetable nutrient composition: What is the evidence?” American Society of Horticultural Science

-Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F A, and Garcia-Viguera C. “Phenolic compound contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic cooking”

-Adams C. (May 6, 2005) “Does microwaving kill nutrients in food?

Microwaves cause proteins to denature:

-George D F, Bilek M M, and McKenzie D R. “Non-thermal effects in the microwave induced unfolding of proteins observed by chaperone binding,” Bioelectromagnetics 2008 May;29(4):324-30

There was a study showing the depletion of garlic’s anticancer properties after microwave preparation:

-Song K and Milner J A. “The influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic,” Journal of Nutrition 2001;131(3S):1054S-57S

Microwaves cause release of xeno-estroens from plastic containers. This is just one study but there are many on this specific topic:

Rust S and Kissinger M. (November 15, 2008) “BPA leaches from ‘safe’ products” Journal Sentinel Online

How about destruction of beneficial bacteria?

-Kakita Y, Kashige N, Murata K, Kuroiwa A, Funatsu M and Watanabe K. “Inactivation of Lactobacillus bacteriophage PL-1 by microwave irradiation”

 

 

Opt to sauté or steam your vegetables in a pan with healthy fats for best nutrient retention. 

Cook and reheat your food in the oven / toaster oven.