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Microwaving Food

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Now, almost all the homes around the world have microwave ovens used for meal preparation or food re-heating. Microwave ovens are so popular because they cook food in an amazingly short time. They are also so efficient in their use of electricity because they only heat the food, not the microwave-safe containers that has the food in them. Most of us use the microwave more than once daily, but is it safe and healthy to use these appliances to cook food? Is something bad happening to our food inside these microwave ovens?

Some people are concerned about the radiation that microwaves use. Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic energy, like light waves or radio waves, and occupy a part of the electromagnetic spectrum of power, or energy. Microwaves are very short waves of electromagnetic energy that travel at the speed of light.

Not all radiations are harmful. There are two types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing, only ionizing radiation damages DNA. Microwaves use non-ionizing radiation, this means that it does not have the power to destroy DNA. The only way to harm you is direct contact with the radiation waves, which means either you have a faulty microwave; a microwave oven with no door or not following the instructions for use; but still some scientists prefer to stay a little away from the microwave.

These microwaves are produced inside the oven by an electron tube called a magnetron. The microwaves are reflected within the metal interior of the oven where they are absorbed by food. Microwaves cause water molecules in food to vibrate, producing heat that cooks the food. That is why food high in water content, such as fresh vegetables, can be cooked more quickly than other foods. The microwave energy is changed to heat as it is absorbed by food.

Another concern is that cooking in microwave ovens can affect the nutritional value of some foods, such as vegetables and fruits. Even though anytime you cook or heat food, especially vegetables, in any way, some nutrients can be lost. The best method for retaining nutrients is one that cooks quickly, exposes food to heat for the shortest period of time, and uses only a minimal amount of liquid. So microwaves can accomplish this as long as the vegetables are not overcooked or overheated.

To keep away from the potential dangers that microwaves may cause, you have to follow some instructions in cooking. You have to avoid heating food in plastic bags or plastic containers, because food can absorb chemicals from the plastic when heated in them. Fatty food, meats, and cheese can leach chemicals from plastic materials. Instead use glass or ceramic containers that carry the label “microwave safe” as it is safer to use.

Microwaves may not be the healthiest of food preparation options, it is not nearly as bad as some people seem to think. There seems to be some stigma about things that are associated with radiation and techniques that accomplish some jobs super-fast.

References
www.cancerresearchuk.org
www.fda.gov
http://edition.cnn.com

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