Whenever we talk of using microwave oven there is a certain group of people who say that
OH, that is not good for you
Well… why ?
I don’t know it’s an expensive and convenient piece of machine it must be bad for your health….
So why exactly do people think that microwave is bad?
It uses electromagnetic radiations to cook our food. See that radiation word right there this can make all the things sound hazardous to your health.
Electromagnetic radiation is a wide spectrum of waves which are all around us. Its divided according to a unit of measurement called as nanometre which consist of visible light, X-rays, radio waves(used for communication) and microwaves which are used in or microwave oven. Of course, some waves of this spectrum can be harmful to us like X-rays but, most of them are pretty harmless and get work done for us.
And microwaves which are used in a microwave oven are not at all harmful to human beings.
microwaves, fall into the spectrum of the electromagnetic radiations which humans can’t see or hear. So, what do these waves do? they make particles inside microwave oven vibrate, collide, and build thermal energy quickly.
Because of this it takes surprisingly less time to heat up food in a microwave than on stove or other cooking methods.
These waves make polar molecules their target.
What are polar molecules?
Let’s look at our good old water. Water is a polar molecule as it is made up of two hydrogen molecules and one oxygen molecule. Remember primarily every atom is chargeless. when these atoms form molecules they give or share electrons with each other. Hydrogen molecules have partial positive charge and oxygen has a partial negative charge in water. This is because oxygen is greedy and it attracts shared pair of electrons towards itself. Hence water gets heated up very quickly. These microwaves also heat up sugar, fats and other non-polar molecules to a little lesser extent.
Microwaves are designed as such that these waves generally don’t pass out of the oven. And this can be easily over-come by not standing too close to your microwave. So, they don’t generally cause direct harm to you. Now the question remains that the food which was inside heating up is safe or not ?
The answer is yes. Not all types of radiations are bad for you and the ones used in microwave oven are not harmful to us
what effect microwaves have on nutrient content
It is true that many nutrients in the food are lost in the cooking process. But that is true for all the cooking processes and not just microwave. As a rule of thumb, the less time and temperature it takes to cook the food less nutrients are lost.
let’s take an example of Vit C, this vitamin is quickly affected by heat. That’s why we add lemon and coriander to our food after the cooking process is done. This way vit c in these foods is preserved.
According to our rule the lesser time it takes to cook vit c the less of it is lost. Microwave does a great job when it comes to heating things quickly and that’s why many of these heat affected nutrients like vit C are preserved when we cook our food by microwave oven.
In a study about formation of harmful compounds during cooking, it was found that less harmful compounds were formed in food which was cooked in microwave. This makes sense as the food doesn’t reach as high temperatures as it does in frying and other cooking methods. Also, it does gets cooked in less time so the food is exposed to less heat.
as it turns out microwave cooking is not at all harmful but it also has some benefits to it. So, doesn’t it have any downsides at all ?
Let’s see how can microwaved food be harmful sometimes
Heating stuff up in plastic containers which are not microwave safe can leach some harmful chemicals from plastic like bisphenol A (BPA) into your food. This chemical is very harmful and It is carcinogenic which means it is a cancer-causing compound. And I think that it’s bad idea to put hot food into a plastic container as it can melt the plastic no matter what cooking method you are using.
As we stated previously that microwave oven uses microwaves for heating, Whichever containers absorb these kinds of waves can melt into your microwave oven because of heat energy. Hence, metal containers are not microwave safe as they absorb these waves.
And the materials like glass, ceramic and microwave safe plastic do not absorb these waves and hence, they can be used in a microwave oven.
The one advantage of microwave is that it heats up food quickly. This may or may not kill all the pathogenic and harmful bacteria present in your food. So, this advantage is also one of its disadvantages.
Also because of this very reason frozen foods can be heated unevenly.
You must be careful while heating liquids inside your microwave. There is a small possibility that the liquid can explode and cause burns. For this be careful and don’t open your microwave right away, wait for a little while and then open it up.
Whenever I heat my coffee in the microwave for a longer duration of time, I always see at least some spill overs on the turntable inside, which I have to then clean.
So, obviously just like any other cooking method it’s not a full proof method of cooking it has some pros and some cons nothing is ideal in the world we live.