Microwaves have become one of the most convenient devices nowadays as well as computers, washing machines, refrigerators, and other appliances which make our lives easier and more pleasant. When you come home after a long, tough working day, you don’t need to put much effort into making food, just heat some of it in the microwave and you are good to go. It’s hardly possible to find a household without this equipment.
On the other hand, we scarcely find a person who hasn’t wondered if these units are dangerous. There are several beliefs around these devices:
- microwaving food destroys nutrients
- this equipment is radioactive and causes health problems
- microwaving can cause cancer
So, are microwave bad for you? Are these beliefs reasonable? Or, are they nothing more than myths?
By the end of this post, you’ll get to know the answers!
How Does A Microwave Work
What is a microwave oven? It is an electric oven that cooks and heats food by processing it thanks to electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range. Simply put, microwave oven frequency waves get molecules in food move fast, creating heat. These waves can pass through glass, plastic, and paper while being absorbed by food. That’s how the unit works defrosting, cooking or heating the food.
When did microwave come out? It’s hard to believe, but such a useful device was invented almost accidentally! Percy Spencer, an American self-taught engineer, was working with an active radar set. He noticed that microwaves from this set melted chocolate in his pocket. Spencer began to experiment with it, and the first prepared food was popcorn; an egg was the next, however, it exploded. Spencer went on with his invention and made a high-density electromagnetic field in a metal box. He placed food in, and the temperature started to rise up fast due to microwave energy. In 1945 this device was patented and soon placed in a restaurant for testing.
Do Microwaves Cause Cancer?
The answer is firm – no it, doesn’t! There are a lot of rumors and speculation around this matter. Some people believe that microwave ovens emit dangerous radiation into the environment and cause cancer. Does microwaving food destroy nutrients? It’s just a myth that is constantly circulating online and in social media.
There is no scientific evidence that this appliance causes cancer. The WHO (World Health Organization) claims that food prepared in a microwave oven is as safe as one cooked in a conventional oven.
Scientists assure that it doesn’t matter what kind of device you use, a conventional microwave, the best small microwave or any other type – it’s safe for your health and doesn’t cause this disease.
Do Microwaves Make Food Radioactive
People fear that even the best microwave oven emits radiation and makes food radioactive. Are microwaves radioactive? Is it true? Or is it the next myth? Let’s find out!
As any device, which produces radio waves, this equipment radiates. Sounds scary? No, worries! There are 2 kinds of radiation: non-ionizing and ionizing.
Ionizing radiation is dangerous; we come in contact with it while having X-rays. Also, this type is used in nuclear power stations or plants. If a person receives a large dose of such radiation, it can damage DNA, cause cancer, or result in birth defects if a woman is pregnant.
Good news! Microwave ovens produce non-ionizing radiation. This type of radiation is not as dangerous as ionizing one, it doesn’t change the DNA or cause cancer and other health issues. Furthermore, the emission can’t make the food radioactive. It just makes molecules move faster, that’s how your food becomes hot.
Top it off, the FDA (The Food and Drug Administration) strictly monitors the level of microwave radiation, and manufacturers have to demonstrate that their devices emit a minimum of radiation. According to the FDA, most of the ovens they check are safe and harmless to humans.
Does Microwave Kill Nutrients
Since the 1960s microwave ovens have been gaining more and more popularity thanks to food rapid processing, energy-efficiency, convenience, and ease of use. Scientists have been doing lots of research and tests since then to investigate how microwave effects on nutrients in food.
There is an opinion that microwaving is more damaging to food than any other processing; they say it can make meals worthless or even toxic. However, if you take a closer look at research, you’ll find out that the food doesn’t become either worthless or toxic. Yes, it loses some nutrients or vitamins, but not because of microwaving; any type of cooking/heating will destroy heat-sensitive components, e.g. Vitamin C.
Contrary, cooking in such a unit can preserve nutrients in vegetables and fruits thanks to short prep time with little or no water.
However, experts don’t recommend heating breast milk or formula in the microwave, but not because it’ll lose all nutrients. The majority of these units heat unevenly; so, there may be hotspots inside the bottle and your little one can get burns to the mouth.
Our readers ask “Does microwaving kill bacteria?” Our answer is no, it doesn’t kill bacteria or nutrients unless they are prone to destruction because of heating.
Microwave Safety Tips
These units are completely safe devices unless you use them properly and take good care of them. Follow these simple tips.
- Do not stand too close to the unit while waiting for your food to be heated or cooked. Watch children because their bodies are more liable to radiation – forbid them to be next to the device.
- Check the unit seals and doors, there mustn’t be a sign of damage. If the door doesn’t shut off properly, the microwave will radiate more.
- Stop using the device if you think it is “leaking” the radiation – you may be at risk; faulty unit can burn human tissue and eyes. Contact the state health department to test the unit.
- Microwaving plastic is not a good idea since it can result in phthalates or BPA leach into the food. Use microwave-friendly utensils.
- Use utensils with a microwave safe symbol. Watch for squiggly lines, an image of a microwave, a dish set under radiation waves – these signs mean that such utensils are safe to use in microwaves.
- Do not use a unit for longer than 10 years.
We, at mykitchenadvisor.com, don’t see a single reason to avoid using a microwave oven. Neither you nor your children will become less healthy because of it. Of course, like with any other device, you have to follow some safety rules, but they are not complicated at all. We stand for modern gadgets and equipment that make our lives more convenient and easier. After all, people shouldn’t waste time if they can avoid it; it’s better to spend precious minutes with your nearest and dearest. Try a convection microwave for a delicious pizza and enjoy cooking!