Does food cooked in the microwave lose its’ nutritional value?

MicrowaveA resounding “not true!” First of all, all food is dead, unless you graze on grass or take a bite out of a living cow, neither of which is advisable. As far as nutrition goes, microwave cooking is the way to go. Cooking times are short, the temperature is only 100 C and a minimum amount of water is used. These are nutrient-retaining conditions. And incidentally, there is no need to worry about standing near a microwave oven. There is no leakage and even if there were, radio waves do nothing but heat. Bon appétit!

10 Responses to “Does food cooked in the microwave lose its’ nutritional value?”

  1. Crarlus says:

    Hi there,
    I think the posted answers run a little short.
    Certainly, microwave radiation can heat up the food locally in excess of 100 degrees. Hydrogen bonds absorb photons and these bonds are not only part of water molecules but also amino acids and anti-oxidants. And the absorption may well break bonds and chemically modify the molecules. This may lead to a detoriation of the of anti-oxidant content or even the production of the toxic iso-form of amino acids. These processes are physically and chemically feasable – let I don’t know to what extend they occur.

    P.S.: I don’t understand OSS’ point about enzymes and find it very superficial. Definitely we need enzymes from an external source, but we make use of them in the digested form of amino acids. Most amino acids cannot be produced by our body.

  2. Heather says:

    So all microwaves are safe to be near when operating and the food that is cooked does not become toxic due to microwave cooking?? Also does it matter what year the microwave was manufactured??? Years ago there were warning signs in restaurants letting clients know there was a microwave in operation on the premises. We do not see these warnings anymore. Is this due to better insulation of the device?

  3. Pat D says:

    Isn’t food that’s cooked in the microwave less healthy because it doesn’t heat up as evenly (the possibility of under-cooked meat)?

  4. Aliiya says:

    This is really interesting, however I am so used to thinking that microwaves are bad for us that it is hard to accept the statement that microwaving is actually beneficial for preserving most of nutrients.
    Is there any through research done supporting this claim, as Mercola article does state that there is an extensive amount of scientific research proving the adverse effects of using a microwave?
    Thank you.

  5. Joe Schwarcz says:

    In response to Robby…Mercola is not a reliable source for any sort of scientific information. His pseudoscientific blather needs to be ignored.

  6. Robby bob says:

    the science is wrong it is a health hazard – don’t nuke your food…..http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/05/18/microwave-hazards.aspx

  7. sofia says:

    That is great to know microwave cooking is a superior option, other things remaining the same. If I may, could you please also advise and clear up confusion on the type of utensil and covering/not covering while cooking in a microwave. We now hear plastics for water is bad; plastics in microwave is bad and is there any truth to story about cooking foods without lids in a microwave may contaminate the food (radiation?)

    Thanks very much

  8. Allan says:

    I have heared that certain ensime and proteins lose some of its nutrition when microwaved, are you telling me that it is not true? Best, Allan.

    • OSS says:

      The human body does not need enzymes from an outside source. We manufacture all the enzymes we need! Any time you hear talk of “cooking destroying enzymes”, you know you’re into pseudoscience territory. Enzymes are proteins that are broken down during digestion and are not absorbed into the bloodstream. Basically, enzymes in food are irrelevant. Whatever enzymes that are present in food are digested anyway. Hope that helps!

    • No more than any other form of cooking. The molecules that make up nutrients are mostly transparent to microwaves. (Not all minerals are, but nothing shy of a nuclear furnace is going to degrade iron.)

      Microwaves work by heating up polar molecules (mostly water), which then transfers its energy to the rest of the food. It’s a gentler cooking process than direct heating in an oven or a pan, which exposes the outside of the food to much higher temperatures. Cooking with hot water (boiling or steaming) limits temperature damage, but it also risks leaching out some of the nutrients into the cooking water.

      For that reason, microwaving is often presented as the best way to preserve nutrients if you’re going to cook. It does degrade some heat-sensitive nutrients, such as folate and vitamin C, but no more than other cooking methods and less than most. Vitamin C in particular is best obtained in raw foods.

      That doesn’t mean you need to consume exclusively raw foods. Cooking makes nutrients available that aren’t easy to digest in raw foods, most notably in starches. (Raw potato, anybody?) Cooking also makes meats considerably safer. A well-balanced diet includes a mix of raw and cooked foods, and a microwave is a good way to cook without destroying nutrients.

      It isn’t capable of various culinary feats that make things taste good, like browning and most baking, so it’s not the only tool in your culinary toolbox. Other methods destroy more nutrients, but people who eat a wide variety of foods are rarely susceptible to nutrient deficiency, despite what people selling diet books and pills tell you. If you are concerned about nutrient deficiency, see a doctor who can give you a blood test, rather than guessing.

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