Are Microwaves Bad for You?
When thinking of a healthy diet, thoughts generally gravitate to nourishing foods and just how much of them should be consumed. And when glancing down at our meal plate, we may even nod with approval upon visualizing a colorful, vivacious meal. But before it even landed at the table, most (if not all) of the foods may have undergone cooking techniques, including the heat of a microwave. But with the curiosity of the heat's provision from radiation, is microwave food safe?
Are Microwaves Bad for You?
Before questioning the safety of microwaves, it is important to highlight just how they work. The use of microwaves is not new, as they have been around since 1945, with the first model weighing around 750 pounds and standing at a tall six feet! Although technology has greatly adapted and evolved since that time, microwaves continue to work by agitating water molecules in food through electromagnetic waves set by a specific frequency. Microwaves essentially absorb water in foods, causing the water molecules to vibrate, and ultimately producing heat. Microwaves are suggested to solely heat and cook food, not changing their chemical and molecular structure, nor making food radioactive. And when it comes to their use, whether or not factual or fictional, concerns have been associated with...
The link between microwave use and cancer primarily stemmed from the concern of radiation. But according to the American Cancer Society, "When microwave ovens are used according to instructions, there is no evidence that they pose a health risk to people." There are also federal standards that limit the amount of radiation that could potentially leak out from the microwave, therefore warranting microwave safety when undamaged and based on instruction.
Cooking methods can in fact manipulate the integrity of nutrients. Although the research is fairly inconsistent, quick heating may preserve nutrients more than slow-cooking techniques, though some nutrients (such as vitamin B12) may be lost during all methods of heating. However, continuous studies suggest microwaving carotenoid-containing foods (orange pigmented foods, including carrots and sweet potatoes) actually increases the absorption of vitamin A following their consumption. Additionally, thoroughly heating foods helps kill off bacteria and reduce the risk of foodborne illness.
...baby bottle harm.
Although "baby-ready" milk should feel lukewarm, heating breast milk or infant formula in the microwave is not recommended and highly discouraged. Microwaving the milk can heat the food evenly and result to so-called "hot spots," which may scald and burn the baby's mouth.
As mentioned with baby bottles, microwaves may heat unevenly, raising caution of food intake following their heating. Additionally, it is important to not only stay cautious of the food heated, but the type of container holding the content. Use only "microwave-safe" dishes to best ensure they can handle the heat, also using a mitt if uncertain and allowing at least 30 seconds for the appliance to cool off. If using a promoted microwavable product, be sure to comply with the indicated packaging instructions.
All-in-all, it is admirable to project potential harms to health, including the worry of food preparation techniques such as the commonly used microwave. But when it comes down to it, microwaves are considered to be safe when they are used based on instruction and are undamaged. Ultimately, most healthcare professionals attest there are other lifestyle factors that can be much more dangerous to health than the use of microwaves, including a poor and innutritious diet, staying sedentary and inactive, and smoking cigarettes and abusing alcohol.