can remember the days growing up in the 1950's and 1960's, when we
prepared foods without a microwave oven. Water was boiled on the stove.
Chicken was baked in an oven. Vegetables were steamed, baked, or sautéed.
Food was whole and fresh. Even a TV dinner was baked in the oven, which
took about 15 minutes to warm. And then, modern science and technology
brought us the microwave oven that could heat food rapidly, from 30
seconds to a couple of minutes.
industry has claimed that microwave
the nutrient content of foods. Somehow, in tasting foods that came out of
a microwave oven, the texture was changed as was the flavor. Foods cooked
or reheated in microwave ovens became rubbery and lacked the savory smells
and layered flavors that come from cooking foods slower and longer.
people bought the convenience aspect, the speed, the simplicity of heating
and eating prepared foods. The science, which has been supported by the
food industry, has continued to claim the health benefits of microwave
cooking. Recently, published data from reliable sources questions the
health benefits of microwaved food.
this mean an occasional microwaved meal will be harmful? Not likely. But
what about a steady diet of eating foods cooked at such a high heat? Do
the sensitive compounds in food, such as amino acids, fatty acids,
vitamins and phytonutrients change? It appears so. Read on to follow the
scientific literature surrounding the depletion of our soil, foods, and
health as a result of modern farming, food processing, microwave cooking,
and not eating enough fresh, natural, uncooked, organic whole foods.
- Three studies of
historical food composition have shown 5-40% declines in some of the
minerals in fresh produce, and another study found a similar decline in
our protein sources (1)
- A 1999 Scandinavian study
of the cooking of asparagus spears found that microwaving caused a
reduction in vitamins (3)
- In a study of garlic, as
little as 60 seconds of microwave heating was enough to inactivate its
allinase, garlic's principle active ingredient against cancer (5)
- A study published in the
November 2003 issue of The Journal of the Science of Food and
Agriculture found that broccoli "zapped" in the microwave with a little
water lost up to 97%of its beneficial antioxidants. By comparison,
steamed broccoli lost 11% or fewer of its antioxidants. There were also
reductions in phenolic compounds and glucosinolates, but mineral levels
remained intact (6).
- A recent Australian study
showed that micro- waves cause a higher degree of "protein unfolding"
than conventional heating (2)
- Microwaving can destroy
the essential disease-fighting agents in breast milk that offer
protection for your baby. In 1992, Quan found that microwaved breast
milk lost lysozyme activity, antibodies, and fostered the growth of more
potentially pathogenic bacteria (4).
stated that more damage was done to the milk by microwaving than by other
methods of heating, concluding: "Microwaving appears to be contraindicated
at high-temperatures, and questions regarding its safety exist even at low
Needless to say, we do not recommend cooking food in microwave ovens,
though mildly heating leftovers may not pose the same problems as
discussed above. Also, microwaving fatty foods in plastic containers leads
to the release of dioxins (known carcinogens) and other toxins into your
food. Common microwavable foods include pizzas, chips, and popcorn.
Chemicals released include polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene,
toluene, and xylene.
microwaving creates new compounds that are not found in humans or in
nature, called radiolytic compounds. We don't yet know what these
compounds are doing to your body, but they are not health-promoting.
fresh, uncooked, or minimally heated fruits and vegetables, nuts and
seeds, herbs and spices are the basis of an Eating for Health™ meal plan.
With whole grains and legumes, cooking them on a stove top by boiling and
simmering them until tender is advised.
flesh foods, steaming, sautéing, baking, or blending into slow cooked
crock pot soups and stews is advised. Dairy products, such as raw milk
cheese, from goats, cows, or sheep, are most nutrient-rich when unheated.
Raw, organic cheese is best added to salads or warm grains, legumes, or
vegetables without heating the dish in a high heat oven, broiler, or
more information on microwave technology's adverse effects on food and
health consult our database on the subject: 28
STUDIES ON MICROWAVE COOKING ADVERSE EFFECTS.
Davis D R. (February 1, 2009). Declining fruit and vegetable nutrient
composition: What is the evidence? American Society of Horticultural
George D F, Bilek M M, and McKenzie D R. Non-thermal
effects in the microwave induced unfolding of proteins observed by
chaperone binding. Bioelectromagnetics 2008 May;29(4).
Kidmose U and Kaack K. Acta. Agriculturae Scandinavica
Quan R (et al). Effects of microwave radiation on anti- infective factors
in human milk. Pediatrics 89(4 part I). 667-669.
Song K and Milner J A. The
influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic.
Journal of Nutrition 2001;131(3S).1054S-1057S.
Vallejo F, Tomas-Barberan F A, and Garcia-Viguera C. Phenolic compound
contents in edible parts of broccoli inflorescences after domestic
cooking. Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture (15 Oct
BAUMAN COLLEGE Holistic Nutrition and Culinary Arts
This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or
treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of
GreenMedInfo or its staff.