Microwaving Food: Health Effects, Risks and Precautions

Surprising truths about microwaving food that you need to know

microwaving food health effects risks precautions
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Is microwaving food bad? How does it even work? Does it kill viruses?

In this post, we’ll answer these questions. You’ll also learn about the health effects of microwaving food,

A microwave is an electric oven that heats and cooks foods by exposing them to electromagnetic radiation. 

It is also commonly used today to reheat foods pre-cooked. 

Even though almost every kitchen has a microwave now, there are still fears and thoughts that it does more harm than good.

Some believe it is one of the causes of cancer or cataracts. Others think it sucks all the nutrients out of the meal. 

Is there any truth to all these? Let’s get the answers. 

How does a microwave heat food?

While a traditional oven warms food from the exterior to the interior, a microwave does the exact opposite.

Microwaves warm the food from the interior to the exterior. They use very little, high-powered radio waves that evenly cooks or heats the food.

What generates the microwaves in the oven is called a magnetron. It converts electricity to high-powered radio waves, which are blasted through the waveguide. 

When you place food on the microwave’s turntable, the magnetron cooks the food by blasting microwaves at it.

Does microwave kill food virus?

Many people wonder if a microwave can kill germs like flu viruses and harmful bacteria. The short answer is yes. But there’s a catch to it.

A microwave oven does not kill the harmful germs, bacteria, and viruses by radiation. It does so by simple heat. 

Here’s why that matters.

Researchers at the University of Florida found something profound in a study. They reported that placing a wet sponge in a microwave oven, set at its highest settings for two minutes, kills about 99 percent of the germs.

Not all researchers agree with this finding. 

But they concur that microwaving helps kill a large number of the pathogens.

Is microwaving food healthy?

There are various controversies on whether it is healthy to microwave foods. The core of this controversy comes down to data. 

There is simply not enough data to set every mind at ease that microwaving is good for one’s health. Let me explain.

There are certain nutrients like Vitamin C that break down when exposed to heat. A microwave oven is one of the best options available when it comes to preserving the nutrients of such vitamins. 

Spinach is another example. When boiled on the stove, it tends to lose at least 70 percent of its folic acid. 

Add a little water and put it in a microwave oven, you will get to keep all the available nutrients. 

Vegetables tend to lose their nutritional contents when boiled in water on a stove. And this gives the microwave oven a distinct advantage. 

Another example of foods that you shouldn’t reheat is eggs. 

Eggs are an excellent source of protein and are often encouraged to be included in everyone’s diet. 

But, it is terrible to reheat eggs, either boiled or cooked. 

One of the health effects of microwaving food is heat exposure. Let me explain. Exposure to heat over and over again can cause serious harm. Eat the eggs immediately after cooking or eat it cold. 

This is because eggs, like other very protein-rich foods, are loaded in nitrogen. Excessive and repeated heating oxidizes the nitrogen. This may increase the risk of cancer. 

There is nothing that compares to the delectable taste of hot chicken. 

When the chicken continually goes on a merry-go-round from the refrigerator to heat, losses occur. 

And its protein content and composition changes, increasing the risk digestive issues. It is also important to not heat chickens at high temperatures. 

Here’s the point: microwaving food is healthy. 

But keep in mind certain foods may lose their nutritional content upon reheating, whether you use the microwave. 

Precautions to take when microwaving food

Like any other electrical appliances, take certain precautions when using a microwave. 

Strict adherence to the precautions is necessary if you want to avoid injuries from the heat and radiation.

Here are the top precautions:

1. Keep the microwave closed 

Always shut the microwave oven door before use.

2. Use the right bowls

Do not put metal bowls or utensils in the microwave oven. Rather than metal containers, there are glass or ceramic containers that will do the job just fine. 

There are even some plastic materials that are FDA approved and suitable for the microwave oven. 

3. Do not put any flammable food or beverage in the microwave

This because it is liable to catch fire and cause an explosion in the microwave oven. 

Also, do not put sealed food or beverages in the microwave oven. This can cause an explosion within the microwave oven. 

Instead, remove the food or beverage from its sealed packet. And heat using a microwaveable dish or utensils. This will help get rid of any negative health effects of microwaving food.

Is it healthy to microwave food?

Like people, not all foods are the same. Some foods need very little time to heat up, while some may take a while. 

The denser the food, the more heating time you’ll need.

Following that logic, dense foods like potatoes or steak will need more time in the microwave oven than soup. 

Try to figure out the appropriate time it takes for that particular food to heat up. And then, avoid using the same minutes for all the foods.

Also, stir the food occasionally to spread the heat and make sure it is thoroughly heated.