Is Microwave Cooking a Healthy Option? Explained!

Last Updated on 15 February, 2024 by Sourav Roy

Microwave Ovens: A healthy or unhealthy option? This debatable discussion seems to be endless. Most people want to enjoy the comfort of a microwave oven but are in a dilemma.

Is Microwave Cooking a Healthy Option

Do microwave ovens cause cancer? Is microwave radiation harmful to health? I know you have all kinds of questions in your mind. Your mind is juggling between it being healthy or not. This war of confusion has been ongoing for years. I have decided to put an end to this dispute. It is high time you have no doubts about this. There is no point living puzzled anymore.

Healthy or Unhealthy? Let’s discover it!

Here are five questions. You are sure to find your answers by the end.


1. Is Microwave Radiation Harmful?

Is Microwave Radiation Harmful

Most of you do believe that microwave radiations are harmful. You will be surprised to know that it’s not. Microwave ovens make use of the same radiations which is used in radio and lightbulbs. It is slightly stronger than what is used in cell phones and computers.

It is low-frequency and non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation. The metal screens block the radiations. Hence, they cannot leave the appliance. Here is the catch. If your microwave door does not shut properly or is damaged, then it can be a problem. So, get it fixed or replaced as soon as possible.

Conclusion: We have radiations all around us. Heaters to television to computers to radio to cell phones. Using a microwave oven cannot harm you in any way.

Pro Tip: Try to keep some distance from the microwave door.


2. Does microwave cooking deplete the food nutrients?

Does microwave cooking deplete the food nutrients

Before I answer this, there is something you need to be aware of. The nutrient value in the food is reduced by heat. So yes, microwave cooking lowers the nutrients. But you know what’s worse? Cooking on the gas stove and boiling of veggies. We feel the longer we do it for, the better it is. It is the biggest myth.

As reported by WHO, microwave cooking is safe. The time duration is short compared to that on the stovetop. So, the loss of nutrient value is very less comparatively.

Conclusion: Heating and cooking, in general, lowers the nutrient value of food. A microwave oven is not an exception to this.

Pro Tip: Avoid boiling milk in the microwave oven. It can harm antibacterial agents.


3. Do microwave ovens cause cancer?

We have heard all our life that using a microwave oven can cause cancer. Am I right? There needs to be a full stop to this thought process. Microwave cooking does not make the food radioactive. It uses radiation to heat the food. It is then absorbed by water particles present in the food. This entire mechanism helps the food to cook.

Are you aware of cancer-causing elements? UV radiations, gamma and X-rays. A microwave uses radio waves, which are on the opposite end of cancer-causing elements. It means you have zero danger from cancer while using a microwave.

Conclusion: X-rays and rays from the sun are more harmful than a microwave.

Pro Tip: Expose yourself to microwaves as minimum as possible.


4. Does microwave cooking form harmful compounds in the food?

Does microwave cooking form harmful compounds in the food

I have already mentioned how microwave cooking requires less time compared to conventional cooking. The temperature also remains constant. It means that the food does not heat up as much. This entire process reduces the formation of harmful compounds in the food.

Conclusion: Cooking on the gas stove may produce harmful compounds, but microwaving cannot.

Pro Tip: Make sure you use a microwave-safe dish and container.


5. Is microwave food bad for health?

Is microwave food bad for health

Microwave food is not at all bad for health. We tend to add some amount of water to our food while heating it. This process helps retain all the essential minerals and vitamins. Also, I have already mentioned how there is no ionizing radiation involved. The rotating turntable helps in killing all microorganisms. So, does heating food in a microwave has side effects? The answer is a clear NO.

Conclusion: There is no reason for microwave food to be bad for health. In fact, it is absolutely healthy!

Pro Tip: Avoid heating baby food in a microwave oven.


6. Can microwave kill the virus in the food?

Can microwave kill the virus in the food

Before I answer this, I want to share an assessment with you. Back in the year 2007, a professor experimented using a wet sponge. He aimed to kill the virus and bacteria on the sponge. The good news was that microwaving it for about two minutes deactivated about 98% of living pathogens.

However, there’s something I would like to bring to your notice. Not all microwave ovens emit power in the same way. So, the time can vary. It could be anywhere between 1-5 minutes.

Conclusion: Microwave ovens are as efficient as any other source of heat. They are capable of killing 98-99% of germs.

Pro Tip: Most experts recommend microwave sterilization. It can kill bacteria, fungi, virus or any other germs with proper modifications.


7. Is reheating food safe in a microwave?

Is reheating food safe in a microwave

If you belong to an Indian household, you are bound to have leftover food almost every day. Don’t shy away from this fact. Making large meals represents the love of Indian mothers. Coming to the point, is it safe to reheat the food in a microwave, or should you do it on a gas stove?

Reheating food does result in the loss of valuable nutrients like vitamin B and C. However, microwaving the leftover food is safer compared to reheating it on the gas stove. Reason? The mechanism of a microwave wave can excite water molecules exceptionally. The microwave energy emits powerful energy to lower the water molecule content in the food. It makes the food hot within few seconds. However, reheating food on the gas stove surely takes longer. Note that vitamin C is heat sensitive.

Conclusion: Microwave oven masters in preserving all the essential nutrients. Avoid reheating leftover food on the gas stove. You will risk losing all the nutrition.

Pro Tip: Do not overheat the food in the microwave. That could cause some damage.


Myths about Microwave Oven:

Here are a few microwave myths which you should not believe at any cost. Besides the above, of course.

  • Microwave oven consumes a lot of energy.
  • Microwaved water alters DNA.
  • Microwaving induces chronic inflammation.
  • Microwaving liquids can alter energy.
  • The microwave does not heat the food from inside.
  • Boiling water can explode in the microwave.
  • Microwaving can change the structure of the food.
  • Microwave food is radioactive.
  • Microwaved food does not stay warm.
  • Children should avoid food from the microwave.

Recommended Reading: 9 Best Microwave Ovens in India 2024


Final Thoughts:

Tell me, do you have a clear answer by now? Microwave cooking by no means is an unhealthy option. Yes, you definitely need to follow all precautions while using it. Avoid plastic containers, use only safe microwave dishes, follow the instruction manual, ensure no leakage or damage and make sure the door is tightly shut.

To be 100% sure of everything, avoid putting items like eggs, coffee, sauce, yoghurt, butter, paper bags, etc. Once you have taken all the measures, you know nothing can go wrong.

Coming back to the question, is microwave cooking a healthy option? It’s a straightforward answer- YES!

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