Growing up in suburbia, I’ve heard from so many parents that microwaving food is bad and can even cause cancer! Even with this so called knowledge in the back of my head, I guiltily continued to use the microwave because of the convenience factor.
However, I later learned that maybe microwaving isn’t so terrible, and could even be a better way of heating up food than an oven or stovetop.
Scott A. Rankin, professor and chair of the Department of Food and Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, states that any type of cooking method will result in a loss of nutrients, so the real question is to what degree are nutrients being depleted.
There are a number of factors that contribute to nutrients loss during cooking. This includes time (the longer the food is cooked, the more nutrient loss); temperature (higher heat, higher nutrient loss); and quantity of liquid the food is cooked in (the more water, the more nutrient loss).
A microwave heats food by emitting wavelengths absorbed by the water molecules within the food, and the molecules produce heat as they come in contact with the wavelengths.
Heating food in the microwave is quick, the temperature rises evenly throughout the food and requires a shorter amount of time for the food to reach its proper temperature; furthermore, it often requires very little or no liquid at all.
Taking all these factors into account, Rankin says that “typical microwave heating results in very minimal loss of valuable nutrients in food.”
Nevertheless, don’t forget the big picture. Whether is microwaved, steamed, or raw, more is more when it comes to vegetables, so eat them any way you like!