Microwave ovens and grillers have become a common feature in most of the kitchens we have in Australia. The modern microwaves are well equipped to prepare some of the most complicated recipes one can think of but some people still see the trend of microwave cooking with squinted eyes due to food safety concerns. Let’s explore what really happens when you cook your food using a microwave oven.
How Microwaves Work
When you put the food inside a microwave, it starts to get heated with the help of low frequency electromagnetic radiation (or let’s say energy because many people find the word ‘radiation’ scary and harmful). The water molecules embedded in your food absorb this energy and starts to vibrate. The constant vibrations produce heat and thereby the cooking process is initiated. Once you turn off the microwave, no radiations are left behind in either the oven or in the food, making the food absolutely safe for consumption.
Bursting the Myths
Unlike ionising radiations which are emitted from nuclear energy, electromagnetic radiations which are utilized by microwave ovens have little or no ability to break strong chemical bonds, thus these radiations can’t alter the food properties. The myth that microwave cooking causes the production of toxins in the food has no scientific evidences, whatsoever.
Big question is ‘does microwave cooking affect food’s nutritional value?’ Yet, another myth! Researches from all around the world show that microwaved food is just as nutritious and contrary to popular beliefs, it may even have some added benefits. When you cook in a microwave, the food gets heated much faster and therefore retention of vitamins and minerals is higher as compared to other methods. In fact, microwave cooking is suggested for the extraction of nutrients from food. Since food cooked in microwaves never gets brown, a good amount of amino acids such as lysine stay intact.
Warnings and Precautions
You can follow these tips for healthy and safe microwave cooking –
- Do not use non-approved plastics for cooking. Some plastics can melt while you put them in a microwave. You can get really hurt while handling such containers. Use containers with ‘international food safe’ symbol.
- Use of good quality containers also ensures healthy cooking. Low quality containers such as PVC containers can sometimes contaminate the food.
- Never heat cooking oil in the microwave as the temperature can rise above the melting point and this can cause some serious burns.
- Uneven heating should be avoided. It can cause the growth of micro-organisms.
- Microwaves should not be used to disinfect food. It’s a myth that spoiled food becomes sterilized by microwave heating.
- Carefully go through the instructions mentioned on the manual that comes with the microwave.
- Never reheat food for more than two minutes.
- Before putting the food inside the oven, wait for a minute or two so that the heat gets evened out.
- Always use oven mitts while taking out the food container from the oven.
- Radiation leakage is pretty uncommon, especially if the microwave is a new one. But if your microwave has been with you from several years, get it checked by the professionals. Damaged doors should be replaced at once.