Some experts say that microwave cooking is not a healthful way to heat foods. Some studies have even shown that using microwaves may decrease the nutritional value of foods.
However, many households have one. So, what does microwave cooking really do to your food?
First off, how do microwaves work?
Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation. Magnetrons, found inside microwave ovens, produce microwave radiation by discharging pulses of microwaves which bounce off of things they come into contact with, yielding an amount of energy.
The process affects the water molecules that are found inside of food and increases the temperature. As the water molecules move around and produce warmth, the energy from the microwave turns into thermal energy, which can heat up food.
Watch this video that explains the process:
As for nutrient loss, anytime foods are heated at a high temperature using a lot of water for extended periods, it is likely that the nutritive levels found in the food will be lessened. Microwave cooking is a fast process so some say that foods can be cooked before nutrients are depleted, largely depending on the water content of the food.
However, many studies also show that water, which is needed for foods to cook in the microwave, is altered during the process as the molecules are torn apart, thus possibly also changing the quality of the microwave heated foods.
The microwave has actually been banned in some areas, and in others it is as common in the kitchen as the sink.
Research has shown that steamed foods, like vegetables, tend to retain many more nutrients than microwaved, conventional oven or stovetop cooked foods, and fresh varieties should also be included in a balanced diet.
This educational brochure provides a good explanation for kids about microwaves, including how they were accidentally discovered for cooking use by an engineer, magnetrons and a candy bar.
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