This week I’m tackling the popular microwave nutrition loss myth. This theory holds that if you cook your food in the microwave the nutrients in the food are destroyed. Proponents state that people should cook food in the oven or on the stovetop to retain as much nutrition as possible.
This is a myth.
I did a search on the National Institutes of Health PubMed website, which catalogs all peer-reviewed published research. I was unable to find a single article that showed degradation of nutrients during cooking in the microwave. However, I did find articles that showed nutrients were preserved during microwave heating.
Turns out that any way you cook food, you lose some nutrition in your food. There are three factors that affect the deterioration of nutrients: heat, water and time. Heat destroys the nutrients, and the longer the food is exposed to the heat, the more they are destroyed. Water also leaches the vitamins, minerals and other nutrients out of the food.
Microwave cooking is FAST. This is why we use it so often! It also requires very little added water. Combining a small amount of water with quick heating means nutrients are actually preserved nicely while heating in the microwave. Compare microwave heating with baking, broiling, boiling or frying and you can see that if your goal is eating food that has as much nutrition as possible, microwaving isn’t a bad choice.
I generally only use my microwave to reheat leftovers. If you were going to actually cook food in the microwave, it’s best to use a microwave-safe dish that closes tightly. Put a small amount of water in the dish with the food, and microwave a short amount of time. Essentially you are steaming the food.
Quick note: Be VERY careful what sorts of plastics you use in the microwave. Some plastics can leach harmful chemicals into food when the food is heated or reheated in them. It is better to use glass or microwave-safe ceramic dishes in the microwave.
QUESTION: What is your favorite food to prepare in the microwave?