Do microwaves remove the nutrients from food?

June 8, 2017 2:40 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

The first microwave for food was invented in 1946. That’s a pretty long time ago – and yet people still remain suspicious of these labour-saving devices. Do they cause cancer? What actually happens if you put a metal implement in them? And do microwaves destroy nutrients when you reheat food?

We take a look at one of the most common concerns about microwaves.

Do microwaves destroy the nutrients in food?

We’re interested in the last of these questions. Like many workplaces, we have a microwave in our building, used to reheat our splendidly wholesome wholefood concoctions of the night before. But are we kidding ourselves that this is actually a healthy way to eat?

Do microwaves remove nutrients?

Behind this worry is a fear that radiation in microwaves will destroy nutrients in food. It’s a common concern. If you type ‘do microwaves…?’ into google, that question is likely to be the first that’s suggested. However, every single answer listed online concurs: microwaves are safe.

According to the New York Times, microwaves in fact help to retain the nutrients in food. In 2006, having considered a variety of studies on the subject, the newspaper noted:

‘Every cooking method can destroy vitamins and other nutrients in food. The factors that determine the extent are how long the food is cooked, how much liquid is used and the cooking temperature. Since microwave ovens often use less heat than conventional methods and involve shorter cooking times, they generally have the least destructive effects.’

The article goes on:

‘The most heat-sensitive nutrients are water-soluble vitamins, like folic acid and vitamins B and C, which are common in vegetables.’

The journalists examine a study by Cornell University, showing that spinach cooked in a microwave retains almost all of its folate, while spinach cooked on a stove loses around 77% of this. Apparently, it’s the addition of water that causes the greatest loss of nutrients. Steaming food or cooking it in a microwave results in the greatest retention of nutrients.

Tips on healthy microwave use

Add sauce and leftovers for a satisfying snack.

Quinola Express makes a great, healthy microwave meal.

If you like to microwave, here’s a few tips on how to make this method of heating as healthy as possible:

  • Don’t add too much extra water. You do need some water when microwaving certain vegetables, but don’t go overboard.
  • Make sure you stir to ensure even heating – this might not matter too much with a carrot baton, but can be dangerous with reheated rice.
  • Make extra batches of food every time you cook a main meal. Food as diverse as quinoa and cheese sandwiches can be frozen and reheated in a microwave as necessary. If you’ve got time for a nice healthy meal at supper-time, then simply reheat the leftovers for a nice healthy meal at lunchtime too.
  • Try some of our quick and easy ready meals, just right for microwaving. Quinola Express, for example, is partially cooked quinoa, designed to be reheated in a microwave in two minutes. You can add sauce, vegetables, tinned fish, leftover meat or anything else to make a really good, nourishing meal. We also have a great range of tinned organic soups, dhals, cassoulets, tagines and the like – see them all here.
  • We've got a great selection of raw food.

    Unconvinced? Stick with raw food instead!

And if you’re not convinced, you might like to try some of our ‘raw’ foodstuffs instead, of which we have a growing range. This is food that hasn’t been heated above a certain temperature (usually about 45C), with the aim of conserving as many nutrients as possible. We have raw food of all kinds, from snack bars to nut and seed butters.

 

 

 

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This post was written by Yzanne

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