Reaching for a frozen entrée from your freezer, reading the simple directions on the back, and popping it into the microwave oven can lead to a meal that took a total of three minutes. And it’s a modern convenience utilized in many American households. According to The Southwest Museum of Engineering, Communication and Computation (SMECC), more than 95 percent of American homes own a microwave oven because it is seen as “almost impossible/pretty difficult” to do without.
Here’s the rub: while your frozen meal may consist of Lean Cuisine-type products with healthy ingredients and low calories, the way you cook your food directly affects the amount of nutrients your body consumes. This common household appliance can significantly zap the nutritional value of your food and your health, leaving you susceptible to developing health complications due to continuous microwave use, and begging the question: is convenience worth sacrificing your health?
1. Microwaves Zap Food Nutrition
Heating your food in the microwave can strip away its original nutrients. What may have started as a nutritious plate of food has now evolved into “dead food” due to the dielectric heating of microwaves.
“They bounce around the inside of your [microwave] oven and are absorbed by the food you put in it,” writes Dr. Joseph M. Mercola, licensed physician and surgeon. The water molecules rotate rapidly in the microwave and in the food in high frequencies which creates molecular friction and heats up your food. This causes the molecular structure in your food to change, and as a result diminishes the nutrient content in the food.
2. Microwaves Destroy Breast Milk And Vitamin B-12
The health benefits of vitamin B-12 are instantly negated once heated in a microwave. In a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, researchers decided to examine the effects of microwave heating on the loss of vitamin B-12 in foods like raw beef, pork, and milk. The results of the study show there was a 30 to 40 percent loss of the vitamin when the foods received microwave exposure. The shift of vitamin B-12 to an inactive form of the vitamin was found in foods during the microwave heating process.
The powerful bacteria-fighting agents in breast milk are also destroyed by microwave heating. Findings published in the journal Pediatrics examined the common practice of using a microwave to heat frozen human milk for convenience in intensive care nurseries. Researchers tested 22 freshly frozen human milk samples to test them for lysozyme activity and antibodies by heating the samples for 30 seconds on either a low or high power setting. Breast milk microwaved at high temperatures was found to have greater E coli growth — 18 more times than the control (unmicrowaved) breast milk. Microwaving at low temperatures also dramatically decreased lysozyme activity and also promoted the growth of harmful bacteria for babies.
3. Microwaves Create Carcinogens In Food
When you head foods that are wrapped in plastic in the microwave, you can create carcinogens in the food. Based on Russian research and German studies, the Russian government issued a warning about the health hazards microwave ovens can have on the human body and the environment. The assembling of microwavable foods are found to contain toxic chemicals such as BPA, polyethylene terpthalate (PET), benzene, toluene, and xylene says Foodbabe.com. The plastic containers used to heat these microwave meals have been found to release the carcinogens along with other harmful toxins into your food which is then absorbed by your body.
4. Microwaves Can Change The Makeup Of Your Blood
In a Swiss clinical study, researchers found that blood changes in individuals who consumed microwaved milk and vegetables. The eight participants in the study ate a series of food prepared in different ways, including food heated in the microwave. The results of the study showed red blood cells decreased while white cell levels increased, along with cholesterol levels. The non-ionizing radiation of the microwave can affect changes in your blood and your heart rate.
5. Microwaves Can Change Your Heart Rate
Microwaves can produce effects on your body instantly due to the 2.4 GHz radiation — the frequency of radiation emitted by microwave ovens. A study conducted by Dr. Magda Havas of Trent University found the levels of radiation emitted by a microwave affect both heart rate and heart rate variability. These levels are within federal safety guidelines but tend to cause immediate and dramatic changes in heart rate. If you experience irregular heart beat or any chest pain and regularly eat microwaved food, it might be best to discontinue use.