Microwave Myths: Does Cooking In Microwave Leach Out Nutrients?

Mar 28, 2016 04:53 AM EDT | By Chandan Das

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Women are instructed on using the microwave at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center on March 14, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
Women are instructed on using the microwave at the Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib Mohila Technical Training Center on March 14, 2016 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
(Photo : Allison Joyce/Getty Images)

These days, microwaves are a common gadget in most kitchens. They are not only convenient but also, reduce cooking time. Using electric energy, these two-shelf devices can heat or cook an assortment of foods. However, there are rumors that microwaving food removes some valuable nutrients.

Certain nutrients like vitamin C usually break down when exposed to heat, irrespective of whether cooked using a microwave or using more conventional methods. Since microwaves cook foods quicker, they are likely to do a better job of preserving the nutritional content that can be destroyed as a result of high heat exposure, Harvard Health Publications reported.

In addition, nutrients are better preserved when one uses minimal amounts of water during cooking. In order to preserve the nutritional content of vegetables further, Columbia University suggests that cook large pieces of vegetable along with their peel. Moreover, you need to cover the foods to allow them to steam during the cooking process, which, in turn, will reduce the cooking time further.

Aside from this, the quantity of water used for cooking foods like vegetables in the microwave also impacts the number of nutrients lost. A number of vitamins are water-soluble and they leach out when cooked in plenty of water, for instance, boiling or poaching. This also includes the use of water when cooking in a microwave. It is worth mentioning here that all the B vitamins and vitamin C are soluble in water. In addition, several minerals present in foods are in the form of mineral salts, which are also soluble in water. Therefore, using minimal amounts of water or cooking liquid, like in the case of soups, stews or gravies, will ensure the full nutritional value of your foods, Live Strong reported.

Cooking in a microwave also presents other dangers, for instance getting scalded. Using the wrong type of plastic, which is not "microwave safe," would make unhealthy chemicals seep into the food. However, if obtaining the maximum nutrition out of the foods is your main concerned; microwaving is certainly a safe bet. Actually, it is among the best ways to prepare nutritionally sound foods, Web MD says.

In fact, using a microwave to cook food, provided it is tightly covered in a microwave-safe container with the least amount of liquid, is a nutritional win. This can even augment the nutrition of some foods. For instance, it makes the carotenoids in tomatoes and carrots more available to our bodies. So, if you do it right, microwaving food is one of the best ways to retain the vitamins and minerals of the food.

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