Why You Should Never Microwave Your Food

woman-peering-into-microwave

Microwaving is a simple, convenient cooking option for people on the go. The microwave oven has been a mainstay in the US for 30+ years, virtually transforming society and how we view food. But despite its wonders, the question that’s been avoided remains: are microwaves the healthiest cooking option? The answer is, of course, no, as there are much better options available that will ensure nutrients will remain in your food.

How Does Microwaving Work?

Before we dive into the research on the possible effects and safety of microwave ovens, let’s clarify what a microwave is. A microwave is a form of non-ionizing radiation. As a matter of contrast, ionizing radiation changes the electromagnetic nature of atoms, or ionizes them. This alters the way they interact with other atoms and molecules around them. X-rays, gamma radiation, and nuclear medicine (CT scans, barium swallows, and mammograms) are types of ionizing radiation. Your food is being zapped by high-frequency waves of heat, and some people argue that this radiation can be harmful to your health.

One study by Dr. Hans Hertel explored how microwaves change the molecular structure of food and the effects of that food on the human body. In his study, he found that individuals who consumed the microwaved foods experienced a decrease in HDL cholesterol, a reduced red blood cell count, and fewer white blood cells. Unfortunately, no studies have been conducted since to replicate Dr. Hertel’s findings, so it would be reaching to conclude that microwaving does indeed deteriorate health. Still, there are other cooking options that may be far better at retaining the nutritive quality of food.

The Best Cooking Options for Maintaining Nutrition

Microwaving cooks the food at very high temperatures in a very short amount of time. This results in a great deal of nutrient loss for most foods, especially vegetables. Our foods are also subjected to nutrient loss when we boil, fry, or roast our food. Boiling vegetables, for example, leeches most of the nutrients (including antioxidants) into the water. The best option for cooking vegetables that will result in only a minor loss of nutrients is steaming. Sautéing and baking at low temperatures is also a viable option that will retain more nutrients than microwaving, boiling, or frying. Of course, by making the majority of your diet raw, with some added dietary fat to help absorb the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), you’ll ensure a high level of nutrient intake.

Adding To the Toxic Load

When it comes specifically to microwaves, damage to the food itself isn’t the only concern. Many microwavable foods are processed and in packaging that contains an assortment of chemicals. Chemicals found in many of these containers include benzene, toluene, polyethylene terpthalate (PET), xylene, and dioxins (known carcinogens). At high temperatures, it is likely that chemicals can absorb into the food, and intake of these chemicals presents a high health risk. What’s more, the chemicals in the food themselves are also a cause for concern.

Perhaps one of the most dangerous contaminants in microwavable food is BPA. A watchdog report from the Milwaukee-Journal Sentinel found this estrogen-like plastic leaked from all packaging into the food tested. [1] BPA disrupts normal hormone activity. Infertility, low-libido, cardiac disease, mental disorders, allergies, high blood pressure, and weight gain have all been linked to BPA exposure. The simple fact is, when you use a microwave, you’re getting a lot more than the food you eat.

One Final Thought

Over the last 30 years, the science and research has come a long way to understand how microwaves affect proteins, antioxidants, and overall nutrient content of food. We’ve also learned how many toxins flood our food when zapped in the packaging. Today we shouldn’t be surprised by these dangers. Instead of microwaving, stick to raw foods as the primary aspect of your diet. When you do cook, try steaming and baking as your main cooking methods.

Have you given up your microwave? Is there anyone who has never used one? Share your experiences with us.

-Dr. Edward F. Group III, DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM

References:

  1. Susanne Rust and Meg Kissinger. BPA leaches from ‘safe’ products. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/pheelyp Pheelyp Aytona

    Where is the reference/citation for the study supposedly conducted by a Dr. Hans Hertel?

  • Rusty

    I’d like to start off with I respect all the information you give and in doing so helping people live healthier lives, however, microwaves are 100% safe, the food is not changed in any way, expect the way all food changes when you cook it. There have also been many peer reviewed studies that show microwaving preserves more nutrients than any other cooking method. Please do proper research on how microwaves work. If your microwave is not leaking, and is within the specification limits, your food is safe, just as nutrient dense as any other form, and in most cases just as delcious.

  • G-Shock

    That’s all well and great Rusty but you’re breaking your own rule in your argument when you just expect us to take your word for it. Can you please share the evidence that unequivocally proves microwaves to be safe and the food to be nutritionally untouched?

  • Rusty

    Given the fact that there is no shred of evidence here to even suggest microwaves are harmful, the burden of proof is on them, not me. When there are thousands of studies you can find by a single search that shows you they are safe and none that hold any credibility that say otherwise. No, I don’t expect you to take my word for it, but rather to look at the studies yourself, not one I or Global Healing Center provides for you.

  • Kaja Knudsen

    Never owned one.

  • ladlasheikh

    thanks this was very helpful….

    ____________________
    omair

  • AngelGabe

    I have not had a microwave for about 20 years, now. Question: since they are so prevalent, and many recipes use them, how do you convert microwave recipes to oven ones? Any thoughts?

  • AngelGabe

    Vaccines are safe, cigarettes are safe, agent orange, no worries, etc. I could go on, but you get the drift.

  • http://www.globalhealingcenter.com/ Global Healing Center

    Depends on what you’re making. If anything needs to be cooked thoroughly, cook it to those specs. Doing what you’ve been doing the last 20 years should still work, right?

  • AngelGabe

    I’m talking about specific new recipes that are for the microwave, with times based on microwave cooking but that could be cooked in an oven…There are recipes out there for baking in ceramic potting pots, or mugs or even canning jars, for use in the microwave: I won’t use one, so would like to know how to convert those micro recipes to oven times. Is there some formula for conversion to oven from microwave? The only thing I can find in a search is the other way ’round.

  • ChefTed

    Hope you don’t mind if I jump in here on this. Usually with some internet searching it’s pretty easy to find similar recipes for “microwave exclusive” recipes. There isn’t a cut and dry answer that works across the board because it’s always going to depend what you’re making. For instance, you wouldn’t necessarily microwave or bake fish at the same temperature or way that you’d microwave or bake beef, or potatoes, or other vegetables, or anything really. If you find a dish that mentions the microwave, just do some searching for other similar recipes and you’re bound to find some that don’t use the microwave.

  • PatnCats

    Hi Doctor! I gave up the microwave when a cancer nurse and homeopathic healer gave me a copy of the German Drs study. I was shocked and got ride of it. It has been about 8 years and I don’t miss it. I just heat food in a small toaster oven or use my cast iron skillet or stainless steel pot. Never have missed it and my food tastes so much better! I never eat at restaurants that micriwave either. Shabby cooking ! I tell everyone about the German Drs study and how blood levels change. I have good blood chemistry per my doctor’s blood test. My cholesterol level was 245 steady the bad kind that is. So I go on Crestor then when it drops to below 100 then I quit for a month as I have fibromyalgia. I’ve just started taking a gFS green food supplement from Herbal Healer Academy as I need help for fibromyalgia and the medications for it make me sick with severe migraines – serotonin in the meds I don’t need. Blessing. Pat

  • PatnTrucks

    Oops I posted to someone else’s question. Anyway I bought a good used Julia Child’s cookbook the Joy of Cooking and beats the day lights of anything found that needs microwaved!! That woman can sure cook! I would guess the standard 350 degrees for 39 minutes should sum up a lot. I trashed my microwave 8 years ago when I read the German dictor’s study. It was very detailed and scientifically based. Food changes at the molecular level in a microwave and is lacking in nutrition. And the packaged garbage they sell for microwave food is appalling. I’ll tske Julia Child recipes any day! Happy REAL cooking!! Food tastes better cooked rhe old fashioned way! Steel pots and a caste iron skillet are all that one needs! Hugs!

  • PatnTrucks

    I bought Julia Child’s cookbook and never have any problems. Forget microwave cooking I threw mine away 8 years ago and never regretted it. I read the German dictor’so study on how it changed blood chemistry.

  • PatnTrucks

    Yes I know the containers you mention. I have a German clay roaster but the bottom is glazed and the top not glazed but is soaked in water for 20 minutes to provide moisture. I would not use a clay flower pot to cook in as they are unglazed and may contain lead or something else as nasty depending upon country of origin. To replace the canning jars use pyrex in the oven. As I mentioned The Joy of Cooking with Old Julia is a time and true method. And really delicious.

  • PatnTrucks

    You are very smart!!!

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