Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pros and Cons of Microwave Cooking

Microwave technology, which is part of the radiofrequency (RF) spectrum[11], was first developed by the German military during World War II.  Many people use microwave ovens as a convenient way to thaw, cook and reheat food. However, a number of people have concerns about the effect of microwaves on their health and on the health and safety of their foods.

In this article, we will look at the pros and cons of microwave cooking.


Pros of Microwave Cooking

  • Great convenience
    • Microwave ovens heat foods quickly and efficiently.
  • Less chance of being seriously burned
    • Microwave ovens heat food without getting hot themselves.
    • Food and cookware taken out of a microwave oven are rarely much hotter than 100 °C (212 °F). 
  • Health benefits
    • The lower temperature of cooking (the boiling point of water) is a significant safety benefit compared to baking in the oven or frying.
      • The formation of carcinogenic tars and char could be almost eliminated.
    • Unlike frying and baking, microwaving does not produce acrylamide[4] in potatoes, however unlike deep-frying, it is of only limited effectiveness in reducing glycoalkaloid (i.e. solanine) levels[6].
    • When food scientists reviewed vitamin and mineral retention in twenty different vegetables, microwaving was found to be an ideal method.
      • As with steaming, the less water and time used to microwave the food, the more nutrients were kept.


Cons of Microwave Cooking

  • Reheating previously cooked food may not be safe
    • Bacterial contamination may not be repressed if the safe temperature is not reached
  • Some microwave energy may leak from your oven while you are using it[7]
    • In WWII, solders who had gathered around radar units—use microwave technology—to warm themselves where later found to develop illnesses, including cancer.
    • Researches have found that there is possible modification of blood-brain-barrier permeability by mobile phone and other microwave fields[10].
  • Hazard chemicals from container may leach into food
    • Don't use plastic containers in the microwave because it can cause phthalates in the plastic to leach into your food (note that phthalates are what make vinyl soft).
    • The combination of fat, high heat, and plastics may release even more hazard chemicals into your foods.  
      • Use other safer containers made of glass or ceramic.
    • Avoid fast-food packaging and microwave popcorn bags because many are coated with perfluorinated chemicals to keep grease from soaking through.[1]

Recommendations


Until now, we still don't know much about:
  • If electromagnetic fields (EMFs)[11] can alter our cells?
  • If EMFs can alter the integrity of our food?
So, if I were you, I would heed Dr. Weil's advice[9]:
  • "I don't cook vegetables or anything else in the microwave. I usually steam or stir fry vegetables, and I use a microwave only for defrosting or rapid reheating of leftovers."
  • "Don't heat foods in plastic containers or covered by plastic wrap."

References

  1. The Healthy Home by Dave Wentz and Dr. Myron Wentz with Donna K. Wallce
  2. Radio Frequency Radiation Emissions of Wireless Communication Devices (Travel and Health)
  3. Toxins Are Everywhere — I'm Not Kidding (Travel and Health)
  4. Acrylamide
    • Acrylamide are present in dangerous amounts in carbohydrate-rich foods that have been overcooked by frying, grilling, or roasting.
    • A nerve-damaging compound in humans and clear cancer-causing agent in rodents.
  5. Solanine
    • Deep frying potatoes at 170°C (338°F) is known to effectively lower glycoalkaloid levels (because they move into the frying fat), as does boiling (because solanine is water soluble), while microwaving is only somewhat effective, and freeze drying or dehydration has little effect.
  6. Microwave Oven (Wikipedia)
  7. "Microwave Ovens and Food Safety," Health Canada
  8. "High-temperature Cooking and the World's Healthiest Foods," George Mateljan Foundation.
  9. Nuking your nutrients (Dr. Andrew Weil)
  10. Blood-Brain Barrier (Travel and Health)
  11. Radio Frequency Radiation Emissions of Wireless Communication Devices (Travel and Health)
  12. Why Did the Russians Ban an Appliance Found in 90% of American Homes? (good)

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