The Pros and Cons of Microwave Cooking
The vast majority of American households currently own and regularly use a microwave oven for food preparation. Many Americans consider it “very difficult” or even “impossible” to do without this appliance according to recent studies.
There have also been many questions and myths surrounding cooking with the best microwave oven and health. The truth is that there are both disadvantages and advantages to cooking food in the microwave. Depending on which oven reviews you’re looking at, your view of the matter can be poles apart.
Separating Myths and Facts Surrounding Microwave
Microwave Cooking Preserve or Destroy Nutrients?
There are currently mixed studies about what microwaving does to the nutritional content of food, making this both a pro and a con.
It is generally accepted that some key vitamins and nutritional compounds are destroyed by heat from any cooking source. This means that whether you boil, steam, fry or bake those vegetables you are going to lose something.
There are, however, better and worse ways to cook. Steam cooking is generally the best way because it exposes food to heat for the least amount of time and uses the least amount of water.
Microwaving is one of the best steaming options if done correctly. The perfect solution is to use a well-covered glass or ceramic container that will create an even steaming environment. Only a few tablespoons of water are necessary for most batches. Don’t use a plastic container. You will learn why in a moment.
To further complicate things, some nutrients, such as those found in tomatoes and carrots, are actually increased when you cook them. While it is a good idea to eat many raw vegetables, steam cooking certain vegetables in the microwave actually makes them better for you than eating them raw. You can learn more about which microwaves are best for steaming by consulting various our microwave oven reviews.
The Plastic Enemy
Leaching refers to unwanted transfer of certain chemicals from a plastic container to the food whenever that container is exposed to heat.
Plastic also happens to be one of the most used containers for microwave cooking, and it is by far the worst choice. The plastic packaging is one of the key reasons why even a healthy microwave dinner is not as healthy as it seems.
Chemicals that leach from plastic are highly carcinogenic and very difficult for your body to get rid of. This means that they tend to hang around and build up over years of exposure to increasingly harmful and toxic levels.
While nobody is likely to die directly from these chemicals, they are linked to cancer and reproductive health problems.
No plastic is safe from leaching. Even the best microwave oven will not protect you from it. This includes microwave “safe” plastic. The difference is that some plastics are hardier than others and less prone to leaching, but all plastics leach some amount.
A plastic can be considered microwave safe because it does not break down completely under heat exposure, which could be lethal if eaten, but it still leaches some chemicals. Plastics that are older or damaged by scratches or sun exposure will leach more.
The good news is that it is easy to combat this serious problem. Simply remove food from plastic packaging and cook it in a microwave and food safe ceramic or glass container instead. This removes any harm from leaching.
Low Fat Cooking, Anyone?
Microwave cooking is much lower in fat than many other forms because it doesn’t require a cooking medium like oil. This makes cooking in the microwave a healthy low-fat option compared to frying or roasting.
The Bottom Line
When you’re going through the piles of microwave oven reviews, it is easy to get paranoid. With all the negativity surrounding the use of microwave oven, it is only right that you are cautious about it.
But as you can see, microwave cooking is not all bad. In fact, the shorter cooking time could make it a better cooking method as more nutrients is preserved. Avoid microwaving plastic containers and you would be on the safe side.