Despite what you might have heard from friends and family, microwaving your food does not “kill” nutrients. In fact, it can help to make certain nutrients more available to your body compared to slow-cooking. Yes, shocking isn’t it?
According to registered dietician and certified food scientist Catherine Adams Hutt, “Whenever you cook food, you’ll have some loss of nutrients,”
“The best cooking method for retaining nutrients is one that cooks quickly, exposes food to heat for the smallest amount of time and uses only a minimal amount of liquid.”
Guess what? Microwave cooking does that. If you do it right, cooking food in the microwave is one of the best ways to retain your food’s vitamins and minerals. Here are three things to remember:
Regardless of whether you cook using a microwave or through more conventional methods like the slow cooker, certain nutrients, such as vitamin C, will break down when exposed to heat, says Harvard Health Publications. However, because microwaves cook foods at lot faster, they could be doing a better job of preserving nutritional content that can be destroyed as a result of high heat exposure. According to Columbia University, to further preserve the nutritional content of vegetables, avoid peeling the vegetables and using large pieces and remember to cover the foods so they steam during the cooking process so that cooking time will be shorter.
Some vitamins, such as B and c, are water-soluble, so boiling or poaching and using water when cooking can cause nutrients to leach out. Boiling leaches the most nutrients out of your food, so with the exception of potatoes, try to avoid boiling your vegetables. Many minerals in foods are in the form of mineral salts, which are also water-soluble so if you’re making soups, stews or gravies in your slow cooker or conventional pot, make sure you consume the liquid to get the full nutritional of what you cooked.
“(Plastic) contains chemicals that may leach into food when it’s heated,” says Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., a scientist with the Environmental Working Group, a health-research organisation. However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has deemed that plastics labeled “microwave-safe” are suitable for microwave use.
If you’re using plastic containers, make sure to choose a BPA-free one. Most containers have labels to say they are are BPA-Free. BPA is a chemical that can leach from plastic containers into foods and beverages, especially when the containers are heated and may pose a potential risk to the environment and your health. If you’re not sure, stick to glass or ceramic dishes marked ‘heatproof’ or ‘microwave-safe.’
Should you worry about anything?
Some people are concerned with the small amount of radiation leakage that occurs with microwaves, but the U.S. government has deemed the amount to be “insignificant.” It doesn’t directly affect nutrient retention and no scientific evidence supports the dangers of cooking with microwaves. Just make sure that your microwave oven is not faulty.