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Is Microwave Radiation Harmful to Food and Dietary Nutrition?

By Lucy Rose Clinic

December 5, 2021

We all love conveniences!

And whilst there is a movement out there to slow everything down, buy less, waste less, and be more self-sufficient, the unquestionable thirst for more convenience, faster processes, and new ways to get more done in a day far outweighs this.

Is it healthy to want to use convenience items?

Do you really need to go back to cooking on a wood fire oven and composting toilet to be considered a sustainability-conscious eco-warrior?

The Danger of Microwaves On Your Food and Dietary Nutrition

I believe there is a middle line – and definitely think many of us can benefit from slowing down, growing some of our own foods, and being selective about which convenience items we choose to have in our life.

So don’t throw away the food processor and vacuum cleaner just yet!

This article focuses on a popular kitchen item – the microwave oven.

Spoiler alert – it’s not pretty. We don’t tell you it’s ok to use it. Hopefully, you decide to only use it to heat a wheat pack in the future. We have dug up some science to back our stance too, so enjoy the read, and we hope this helps you take another step to a healthier life.

Cooked Broccoli Statistics

This study found some alarming statistics on what happened to the antioxidant compounds in broccoli with different cooking methods. In short, microwaving resulted in the worst outcome, killing off 97% of the flavonoids. The best way of cooking broccoli is steaming. (Paper abstract – HERE)

The influence of heating on the anticancer properties of garlic

This Study discovered that cooking garlic in the microwave oven for 60 seconds depleted its primary cancer-fighting properties.

Microwaving amplifies protein unfolding on food

This Australia Study discovered that microwaves cause a higher degree of “protein unfolding” than conventional heating.

Reheating meat

Microwaving prepared meats to ensure sanitary ingestion was found to provoke the formation of d-Nitrosodienthanolamines a well-known carcinogen.

Leached chemical from containers

Many people cook food in plastic microwave safe containers. Carcinogenic toxins can leach out of this and into your food. Studies have shown that chemicals such as polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene, toluene, and xylene can leach from the packaging of common microwavable foods such as pizzas, fries, and popcorn.

Do microwaves leak radiation outside the unit?

Practically all microwave ovens leak microwave radiation, even when they are brand new, and in perfect working order. Microwave ovens emit two kinds of EM radiation – microwaves (which leak past the seals and through the screen) and low-frequency radiation (50/60 Hz), which is emitted primarily by the electrical transformer used to power the magnetron, and cannot be shielded by the casing of the oven.

A microwave oven can become very unsafe if the door is not latching properly or if any of the structure is damaged.

In such conditions, the screening of the microwaves might be ineffective and radiation many times stronger than the legal limit could be emitted.

Yes there are government safety guidelines to ensure products meet certain manufacturing criteria, but these guidelines are different in different parts of the world. Most of Europe and America must measure  5 mW/cmstandard. Russia’s limit is .01 mW/cm2 (five hundred times smaller).

Microwaves and our Brain

This study explores the effect of microwaves from other sources on the hippocampus and the brain, learning and memory abilities, and the mechanisms underlying brain dysfunction.

Microwave alternatives

It does take a little bit of getting used to living without the convenience of a microwave, but in no time at all you’ll adapt.

  • My primary method of heating is using a stainless steel pot to reheat left overs. Depending on the food, you can add some liquid such as filtered water or bone broth. The heat will evaporate the liquid and help steam the content of the meal. Remember to put a lid on it! You want to be attentive and stir regulalry to prevent burning on the bottom. I usually put it on low heat and leave it for 5 minutes then come back to stir/check. When it is all nearly heated, I might turn the heat up and just stir it for 30 seconds on high heat, then serve it up. This works well for things like spaghetti, soups, curries, etc.
  • My next way of heating is putting the meal on a glass baking dish or oven proof plate and heating it in the oven. This works well for roast meats and vegetables etc. Depending on the food, you may put a lid on it to catch the moisture and prevent it drying out.
  • For fast meals, look into using a stainless steel pressure cooker. Also air fryers are very popular now and cook quickly.

If this is an area of interest for you, then continue on our research. There is a lot of information out there, we have looked for data backed up by scientific research that relates to the effect this cooking device has on our food, and therefore our body and health.

We hope you enjoyed the article, and look for healthier ways to heat and cook your foods from now on if you currently do have a microwave!

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