LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) — We at THV11 looked into the safety of a popular household appliance: the microwave oven.
Microwaves heat and cook food quickly by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation. It's become a modern day convenience in our fast-paced lives.
But a viewer emailed us, saying he'd been shown a report which stated microwaving food degrades the nutritional value and that you should never microwave food. The article was published on the website Natural Society in November of 2011.
It says in part, "no one should be using microwave ovens." Because not only can you experience something called "microwave sickness" but goes on to make the case that "nutritional value is significantly reduced if you microwave food."
This prompted THV11 viewer Robert to ask: "Is microwaving harmful to human health? Does it make your food less healthy?"
We asked UAMS Director of Nutrition Services Tonya Johnson to answer.
"In my opinion, and most of the research articles that I've read, it is perfectly safe to microwave your food," Johnson said. "In fact, studies show microwaving helps to retain a lot of the nutritive value. If you cook in water, like if you boil vegetables, the nutrients seep out into the water. Most of us don't eat the water that we're cooking our vegetables in, we toss it, we toss the nutrients."
Johnson goes on to say if you smoke or grill food you're absorbing charcoal and smoke, which are byproducts that are carcinogens and alter the food as well. And that makes microwaving, in some cases, a better choice.
She also notes that any form of cooking destroys nutrients in food, but the key is how long it's cooked and at what temperature.
Microwaving food makes it hotter, faster, which is also preferable. As for any dangers of microwaving, Johnson answers saying the only concern should be the type of container you're using to heat food in a microwave.
She says never use Styrofoam or certain plastics. She recommends heating food in a glass container.