Microwave Update

Some studies claim microwaves leak, ruin your food, and even cause cancer. Many of these studies are old and are not very scientific. So, lets take a look at the latest studies and recommendations.

Microwaves work by emitting electromagnetic radiation. These energy waves cause water molecules to rotate rapidly which creates heat that cooks your food.  This low level of energy is not strong enough to cause ionization which would break down your food.

LEAKAGE The Federal Drug Administration has requirements that limit the amount of leakage. This limits radiation to about two inches from the machine itself. This radiation also dissipates fast. So, as you move further away from the microwave, the waves rapidly diminish.  Just stand more than two inches away and it has less effect on you than your cell phone.

EFFECT ON PROTEINS Some old thought is that microwaving will break down proteins in food and make them toxic. However, new studies(1)show that, “all of the amino acids in the protein are still bonded together.” The nutritional value is not compromised. They concluded that if breakdown does occur, it is more likely from overheating. Cooking food at high temperatures or for too long will reduce the nutrients in that food and produce cancer causing agents. Barbecuing,  for example, is one of the worst ways to cook. Please see my other blog post on how Over-Cooking Causes Cancer http://blog.creativeretirementforwomen.com/over-cooking-causes-cancer/.

EFFECT ON NUTRIENTS  I’m referring to minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. The general rule here is that nutrients are always lost when cooking. More are lost when the temperature is higher or when the food is cooked longer. The microwave results are that nutrient retention was actually higher in some foods and lower in others. It depended on how hot and long its cooked and if its in water. Food microwaved in water tends to lose nutrients into that water.

IN CONCLUSION The study finds, “There’s no evidence that microwaves adversely affect the nutrient profile of foods.(1)” The protein also stays intact and the leakage from the machine requires only a two inch buffer. Some have even claimed that  cancer is caused by microwaves, however, I couldn’t find any studies to support this. I generally use my microwave to reheat drinks or food for short time periods. I’ve never used it to cook an entree outside of TV dinners when I was in college many years ago. So, unless you are using pressing your face against the microwave while its cooking, you are just fine.

L. Johnson of www.creativeretirementforwomen.com

(1)Kresser, C., 4-7-2015, “Are Microwave Ovens Safe?” from chriskresser.com/are-microwave-ovens-safe/

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