Healthy or Not? 3 Microwave Myths
A microwave oven is a convenient way to thaw, cook and reheat food. But just how healthy is it?
Many of us are dependent on our microwave ovens for thawing, cooking or reheating food. But just how healthy is “zapping” your food compared to cooking in a conventional oven or skillet?
Here, we debunk three popular myths.
Myth #1: Cooking your food in the microwave removes the risk of food poisoning.
Many people rely on microwave ovens to kill dangerous bacteria in food. Good idea? Not always, health experts say.
A study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at a salmonella outbreak following a picnic where dozens of people ate reheated roast pork. The study, published in The American Journal of Epidemiology, found that of all 30 people involved, those who used a microwave oven became sick. On the other hand, those who used a conventional oven or skillet were not affected.
The reason may have to do with how microwave ovens work. Food is heated from the outside in — not from the inside out — which can result in “cold spots” where pockets of bacteria can thrive.
The bottom line: Don’t assume that “zapping” your food means you’re necessarily killing bacteria. Health Canada makes these recommendations:
While all cooking methods have some effect on the nutrients in food, the effect is worse if you over-cook the food.
For this reason, microwave cooking tends to be less harsh on nutrients than conventional cooking methods, because the cooking times are shorter and less water is used.
Microwaves are a form of radio-frequency electromagnetic energy. They are generated electronically. They do not come from radioactive sources and they do not cause food or the oven itself to become radioactive.
When microwaves penetrate food, they cause water molecules in the food to rotate. The rotation causes friction between the molecules and the result is a rapid rise in temperature. This is why the cooking time with microwave ovens is shorter than with conventional ovens. When you shut the microwave oven off, the microwaves disappear.