It’s a sound we’ve all grown pretty accustomed to in our hectic worlds – the aggressive beep of the microwave.
Over 90% of Americans own a microwave. Chances are, you’re one of them, and the reason is that “nuking” your food in the microwave is often the easiest, quickest way to get a hot meal.
But does easy and fast also mean safe? Or healthy? Actually, yes. In fact, it can be one of the healthiest ways to cook.
Kitchen appliances tend to be pretty on-the-nose with names. Blenders blend things. Refrigerators refrigerate things. Same with microwaves.
Microwaves, literally, use “microwaves” of electromagnetic radiation, a low-energy, non-ionizing radiation. The radiation is also paired with infrared and radio waves, which your food absorbs, causing it to heat up.
That all probably sounds dangerous. I mean, you’re using radiation (hence, “nuking” your food), and radiation is not exactly good for your health. If this concerns you, though, it really shouldn’t. Your microwave is about as dangerous as your cell phone.
Nuking yourself healthy
There are many options when cooking: boiling, frying, baking, you name it. Unfortunately, while it’d be great to always have the time to cook yourself a fancy meal, sometimes, you just need to take a shortcut and use the microwave.
But, did you know that might even be the healthiest option?
In order to retain nutrients, it’s best to heat food as quickly as possible while using as little liquid as possible; otherwise, nutrients can leak out or decompose.
Microwaves do precisely that. No liquid is required, and while the one-minute-thirty-seconds on the timer sure feels like a long time when you’re hungry, it’s at least quicker than preheating the oven.
Yes, you heard that right. Microwaving some foods can make them healthier or more digestible.
As far as vegetables go, microwaving them preserves antioxidants better than boiling or pressure cooking. This is especially true for vegetables with carotenoids or the plant pigments that make fruits and vegetables look red, yellow, or orange. Carotenoids are chock full of antioxidants on their own, but microwaving them actually increases the strength of the nutrients as they enter your body.
Have you ever cooked eggs in the microwave? Probably not. Full disclosure, I haven’t either. Yet, as weird as it sounds, eggs can be cooked in the microwave and actually become more digestible when cooked.
You see, eggs are pretty finicky when it comes to being cooked. Any cooking at all will reduce an egg's vitamin and antioxidant content. Thus, microwaves just might be the solution to the problem. Cooking eggs for a shorter time at a lower temperature actually helps maintain the amount of nutrients in them.
So, is microwaving the best method for a gourmet meal? No. But it certainly isn’t the hazard your mom would have you believe, and it can actually be a nutritionally-sound option.