Don’t Be Afraid of Microwaves
Being a health-minded person, you’ve probably wondered if microwaving food has any drawbacks. Maybe you’ve heard that exposure to a microwave could damage cells. Perhaps you’ve wondered if nuking your food can damage the nutrients.
Don’t worry: There’s no evidence that microwaves are harmful to humans. And microwave cooking is one of the least likely forms of cooking to damage nutrients. Any time you cook food, some nutrients break down, whether it is from a microwave or a regular oven. Cooking time is one of the biggest factors impacting nutrient quality and since microwave cooking times are shorter than with a stove or oven, more nutrients are preserved with a microwave.
As far as vegetables go, cooking them in water robs them of some of their nutritional value because the nutrients leach out into the cooking water. For example, boiling will lead to a greater loss of antioxidant nutrients than steaming. This may be another reason that microwaving preserves more nutrients than conventional cooking: Little water is needed to steam food.
Avoid microwaving in plastic or using plastic wrap or plastic bags in the microwave. It’s possible that chemical components of plastic, known as BPA and phthalates, can leach into food in response to heat exposure. Be safe and stick to glass or other microwave safe containers for the microwave.
To read more about this topic, check out this article in Scientific American: Is there any evidence that microwaving food alters its composition or has any detrimental effects on humans or animals?
Cross, G., Fung, D. The effect of microwaves on nutrient value of foods. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition. 1982. 16(4):355-81.