Does Microwaving food destroy all the nutrients content in your food ?
Apala Guha | 4 MIN Read
Food exposed to right temperature of heat can prevent loss of nutrients and provide adequate nutrition for your diet
My neighbor called me few days back asking if her use of microwave is causing the vitamin deficiency that she has been facing since long. The fact I am her “Nutritionist neighbor” is bored pretty deep and well indeed!
As the Nutrition Expert at Elate Well being Lounge, I agree I do get this question a lot, considering the sudden uproar in the food industry about the microwave being your enemy.
Well, the answer is NO!
The effects of microwave' s radiation on food
Although it has been found that there is minimal damage to nutrients because of microwaving, but the fact is like any method of heating, microwaving can affect the nutrient content to a certain extent however, it depends how much you cook it and more due to other cooking techniques at home.
Most reports at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, indicated that microwave cooking resulted in higher moisture losses maybe as compared with conventional methods
Overall, the nutritional effects of microwaves on protein, lipid, and minerals appear zero or minimal. There is no report on the effects of microwaves on carbohydrate fraction in foods at all.
How does your microwave work?
Microwave is derived from the energy used to cook the food, microwaves, which pass through the cells and molecules of the food, the frequency of the waves causes the water molecules to vibrate, this movement generates heat.
These microwaves are produced by a device called a magnetron within the microwave oven. The heat produced therefore is not by the production of any different compound in your food.
The water molecules vibrating to match the microwave frequency is the only way your food is getting heated.
There has been a lot of conjecture about microwave producing cancer causing compounds in the food. All recent researches on this disagree as there has never been any scientific researches on this.
What nutrients are susceptible to destruction after any form of cooking?
· Vitamin C
· Vitamin B1
· Vitamin B9
· Vitamin B12
· Vitamin A (But only in low pH)
Lets take an example
Vitamin C is an important nutrient which is easily destroyed by cooking. During cutting of vegetables and fruits some vitamin C is lost Vitamin C is also lost when vegetables and fruits are washed after cutting and exposing cut vegetables to air for long periods before cooking
But there is more then only temperature. Vitamins might be more stable or more prone to destroyed in certain ph. Vitamin C “likes” low pH, but vitamin A is easily damaged in such low pH (prefer neutral / alkaline pH). It also depends on oxygen and light access.
Most of vitamins are quite resistant to temperature, and at the same time most of them are overly sensitive to sunlight. So, exposing them to sunlight or oxygen causing more dehydration then cooking alone. (Reference: Arkadiusz Dudzik, Nutrition Analyst)
The rest of vitamins are pretty stable at boiling temperature. All of these vitamins are water soluble, so they rather leach into the water than being destroyed.
What are the Do’s and Dont’s of Microwaving the food ?
The best way of cooking to preserve vitamins in food are boiling, steaming, microwave (even 90% more vitamin C then other methods), slow cooking and pressure cooking.
Its important to Stir frequently To avoid any food contamination, make sure you stir your meal every so often while microwaving, especially when reheating rice.
To avoid potential nutrient loss, microwave vegetables for a shorter time. Cooking your vegetables until they are just firm is a good way
“But let us not get too lost in the details. Vegetables, pretty much any way you prepare them, are good for you, and most of us do not eat enough of them. And is the microwave oven good or bad? The microwave is a marvel of engineering, a miracle of convenience — and sometimes nutritionally advantageous to boot,” quotes Harvard Health Publishing.
Cutting fruits and vegetables and leaving it exposed to air, this causes oxidation of the nutrient and renders it either harmful or useless to the body.
Keeping vegetables soaked in water for longer periods essentially does not destroy nutrients. The nutrients get leached into the water. If the water is not used in cooking than you are eating just the food sans the goodness.
Heating for long periods of time destroys the maximum nutrients. Almost all vitamins and minerals are stable to initial heat treatment but holding them on heat for a period over the boiling temperature of water that is 100 degree Celsius, for more than 8 minutes, denatures the chemical components in the food.
Deep frying items has a completely different reason of destroying nutrients. When heating oil for a longer period of time, it slowly reaches its smoking point, this is the point at which the oil starts fuming and the color of the oil changes to a darker shade. The fatty acid structure changes to trans-form from CIS form. This not only destroys nutrients in the food being fried, but the denatured oil is extremely harmful for cardiovascular health.
So, you see, microwaving has got nothing to do with eating away the nutrients in your food. It’s the duration of your food on heat, or the method of washing and storage that will hamper the presence or availability of nutrients in your food.
We hope that the above article has eliminated your Fears and Doubts of microwaving the food