Do Microwaves Zap Food's Nutrients?
The microwave – the greatest invention for getting food ready fast. However, there has been a lot of controversial talk about the impact of microwave usage on overall foods nutritional quality. You have probably heard the classic line that microwaves give you cancer, but can they really void the nutrients out of healthy foods? We have the answer for you.
Some Nutrients Degrade, Others Benefit
Heating food by any method, whether microwave or roasting in the oven, can affect the nutrient qualities in some food. This is because some nutrients, such as vitamins C and B12 degrade quickly when the temperature rises.
The opposite is true for other nutrients. Carotenoids, the antioxidants in carrots and tomatoes, actually increase when they are heated.
The Microwave May Be Better
For those who have feared the microwave, fear no more. The Harvard Health Letter recently said that microwaving food is actually a preferred cooking method because the cook times are shorter and do a better job at preserving delicate nutrients like vitamins C and B12.
It is best to use the microwave with a little bit of water so that the food can steam from the inside out. This method will allow the food to keep more vitamins and minerals.
Of course, there is always another side. Cornell University’s food engineering professor, Ashim Datta, thinks that microwaving should be done with caution. This is due to the fact the microwaves heat foods unevenly and cause hot spots. This could lead to quicker nutrient degradation in the extremely hot spots. Thankfully this problem can be resolved if you simply heat your food in a microwave-safe dish with a lid and cook on low.
Of course, if you eat frozen burritos and meat-filled pastry pockets all day, you really do not need to worry about how the microwave cooks your food, since these foods generally have very little nutritional value to begin with. On the flip side, if you eat a healthy and balanced diet, there is a good chance you are getting in all of the nutrients you need throughout the day.
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