Almost everybody uses a microwave. If you’re strapped for cash, practically every hot meal you can get on the cheap requires a microwave to heat it up. There is one lingering question that seems to pop up every now and then: is the microwave ruining our food? Is it stripping away all the important nutrients we need? Well, we have answers for you.
First, let’s understand the basics. Microwave ovens heat food by using electromagnetic radiation on the microwave spectrum, which causes all of the molecules of the food to rotate quickly, building up thermal energy. One of the big benefits of microwave heating is that it is much more uniform than other methods; you don’t have to worry as much with the outside beating heated more rapidly than the inside. This works especially well if the food you’re heating up is particularly moist, because microwaves target the moisture more than anything else.
Unfortunately, it seems like there is mixed information about what microwaves are doing to our food. Some studies indicate that microwaves pretty significantly impact food’s nutritional value, while others seem to show that microwaving actually does less damage than conventional cooking. The reason behind food holding onto micronutrients more than it would in a regular oven is that the cooking time is much less, which potentially means that there is less prolonged damage to the important parts of our food. It comes down to the difference between high intensity for a short time versus more moderate intensity for a longer period.
If you look at all the data comparing microwaving to traditional heating, it seems that the difference isn’t big enough to worry about. Anything you cook is going to lose nutrients compared to the raw form, because that’s just the nature of heating things up. If nutrients are your biggest concern, your best course of action is to eat more raw and organic foods that haven’t been messed with. If you’re worried that your broccoli is going to lose the health benefits if you cook it, just don’t cook it! Raw veggies and fruits are really where it’s at if you’re concerned about getting the full potential out of your nutritional intake.