Did you know that nearly every home in America contains a microwave? In fact, data from the 2011 U.S. Census Bureau reports that an astonishing 97 percent of households have this device. While microwaves make meals for time-strapped people in mere seconds, is microwaving food bad for you?
Myth 1: Microwaving Kills Nutrients
In reality, anytime food is exposed to heat, nutrients like vitamin C, omega fatty acids, and some antioxidants can be lost. But this applies to cooking in general, not just when you’re using a microwave.
As reported by WHO, microwaving your food is a safe way to prepare it and it retains about the same level of nutrients as when you cook on a stove top or in the oven.
If you’re thinking about microwaving your vegetables, Harvard Health Publishing advises heating your food rapidly, in the shortest amount of time, and with the least amount of water as possible.
Myth 2: Microwaving Increases Cancer Risk
The American Cancer Society (ACS) explains that radiation exposure exists on a spectrum; microwaves are on the low end, and things like x-rays, gamma rays, and UV radiation are on the high end of the scale.
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give a second thought to microwaving your food. But the truth is that broken microwaves can leak a higher amount of radiation. So what are the appropriate instructions you should abide by if you want to use your microwave safely? WHO has some suggestions:
- You can reduce your exposure to microwaves by ensuring your machine works properly.
- Neither the door nor the sealants should show signs of damage, and the sealants should be kept free of dirt and grime.
- The door should open and close correctly and fit securely.
- If your microwave or any of its parts are on the fritz, you should refrain from using it until the parts are fixed, or purchase a new one.
Myth 3: Any Non-Metal Dish Is Safe for the Microwave
Although many plastic containers are now labeled “microwave safe,” or “BPA free,” researchers discovered most of these plastic products leach chemicals with estrogenic activity (EA). The study reports that increased EA may contribute to health issues and be particularly problematic for fetal and juvenile mammals.