Isn’t it too convenient to cook with a microwave oven? After all, it is so simple and so fast. It is like a lifesaver for those who can’t or maybe won’t cook food. People just love cooking with microwave ovens. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that they have become an important part of our daily lives. Be it adding freshness to a cold, bland meal or cooking food, microwave ovens are our perfect companions.
When using microwave ovens, has it ever crossed your mind that these appliances can be detrimental to your body and your health? Well, a lot of people believe that microwave ovens produce harmful radiations that can damage the body’s healthy nutrients.
In this article, we will discuss in detail whether these beliefs hold evidence and what exactly does research say.
What are the effects on the nutrient value of food?
Microwave ovens offer short cooking time and low temperature and the food is usually not boiled as well. This is the reason most people think cooking with microwave ovens retains more nutrient value more than methods like frying and boiling.
However, studies suggest that microwaving does not reduce nutrient value more than other methods of cooking. There have been some researches on this subject to find any conclusive answers to this. One study noted that microwaving and baking preserve antioxidants the best, while pressure cooking and boiling destroyed most antioxidant nutrients in the food.
Another study showed that microwaving significantly destroyed the antioxidants in broccoli, whereas boiling destroyed only 66%. Microwaving for a minute also destroyed some of the cancer-fighting compounds in garlic. Human milk can also lose its antibacterial agents when heated in a microwave.
It is true that microwaves produce electromagnetic radiation. However, this is not the same as the ones you’re probably thinking about. Yes, there are not the ones associated with nuclear and atomic bombs. The radiations produced by microwaves are similar to the ones produced by our mobile phones, called non-ionizing radiation, just these are much stronger. These electromagnetic waves cause water molecules in the food to vibrate. These vibrations, in turn, produce the heat that cooks food. These radiations also do not carry the same hazardous effects as x-rays or other types of ionizing radiation.
These radiations are, however, quite unlikely to cause any harm to your surroundings because of the metal shields and screens fixed over the windows. This is the reason it is advisable to not stand very close to your oven or press your face against the window. The penetration of these radiations can become easier if the window of the oven is broken, or the door doesn’t work properly. Hence, do not prolong repairing your oven and get it fixed asap.
How to use microwave oven safely?
Microwave ovens have been one of the best culinary inventions of mankind, and we definitely do not want you to stop benefitting from this extremely useful apparatus. Here are a few safety tips for you, following which, microwave ovens can be used in a better and safe way. We recommend you to follow these tips for using your microwave oven.
- Abide by the manufacturer’s instructions:
Well, this holds not only for ovens but for every electrical apparatus. Common people are not exactly well versed with the proper usage of these appliances, and not following steps correctly might lead to bad results and might cause some damage.
Hence, it is advisable to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all kinds of safety precautions and operating procedures. Some of these instructions include not using the microwave when it is empty, or not heat liquids in the oven for longer than the given recommendations.
- Check your appliance for any kind of leakages:
Loose or damaged door hinges, seals, or latches can be one cause of leaking radiations. Hence, it is essential that you check all the seals, doors, and windows of the microwave to avoid any leakage, etc.
- Do not overheat water:
One suggestion to use microwaves safely is to avoid heating water beyond its boiling temperature. When you go for superheating, a slight disturbance in the oven or shifting of the utensils inside might cause the water to violently explode out of the cup. Hence, again, following the manufacturer’s instructions is a must.
- Avoid using an oven that seems to operate even when its door is open:
According to the recommendations of the FDA, if you witness your oven working with an open door, you must immediately stop using it altogether. There are special safety interlocks in a microwave that are intended to stop the magnetron from generating microwaves. If your oven is in normal condition, the interlock will work normally nad the magnetron will not operate. However, the fact that the microwave open is operating with its door open, is indicative of the not-so-good condition of your appliance.
What are the possible injuries and risks with microwaves?
Most types of injuries that are experienced by the use of microwave ovens include heat-related burns that can be caused by overheated foods, hot containers, or exploding liquids.
The injuries caused due to radiations, on the other hand, are quite limited in comparison. They can generally be caused due to long exposure to the radiations through any openings or gaps in the seals of the microwave oven. Hence, it becomes all the more important to check for any kind of problems in the oven door or seals, to prevent the leakage of any radiations. Although some users have been concerned that microwave ovens could cause interference with certain electronic cardiac pacemakers, today’s pacemakers are designed to shield against this interference.
This is all about microwave ovens and health. We hope this article helps you find answers to all your important questions about the usage of these microwaves and also follow all care and caution so that your favorite appliance does not become an impediment to your good health. We hope this article helps you.