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Most US households have microwaves in them. From their humble origins in the late 1940s to now, microwaves are a staple household item for their ease of use and convenience. But, did you know microwaves can be pretty harmful? Let’s dive into why microwaves are bad for your health and great microwave alternatives.
Microwaves Can Change Your Food
Several studies demonstrate the effect microwaves have on food. A large review on the effects of microwaves on food found that microwave radiation at 230 W can degrade 40% of the vitamin content after longer treatment.
Researchers Singh and others found that after microwaving vegetables Vitamin C content decreased from an average value of 274.1 mg/100 g to 67.1 mg-130.7 mg/100 g.
Researchers Watanabe et al found that microwaving foods caused a loss of 30-40% of vitamin B-12 loss.
Microwaving can also effect carbohydrates and therefore its characteristics like calories, gelatinization, and such. Furthermore, microwaving food can have significant effects on protein degradation and accelerating reaction.
Leading to the next point on why microwaves are bad for your health and great microwave alternatives; another substance microwaving is known to accelerate is the formation of acrylamides.
Microwaves Can Cause Formation of Acrylamides
The American Cancer Society defines acrylamides as naturally forming chemicals that form from chemical reactions in certain types of starchy foods, after cooking at high temperatures.
Acrylamides are formed at higher rates when food is heated in the microwave compared to other methods of cooking like broiling or cooking on the stovetop. This is especially true in potato products.
Many studies concern the formation of large amounts of acrylamide in microwave heated potato products. Microwaving of frozen pre-prepared potato products, such as chips and wedges, led to higher levels of acrylamide in the final cooked product than any other cooking method.
Some authors have suggested that more acrylamide may be formed when microwaving compared to conventional heating methods.
This may be because microwaves offer fast temperature increase in the foods owing to their capacity to generate heat energy inside the food, without requiring any medium as vehicle for heat transfer.
Furthermore, many authors reported that with the increase of the microwave heating power, the acrylamide content increases. Microwave radiation, while a quick way to cook your ramen, can also be dangerous to your brain and nervous system. Which leads nicely to my next point on why microwaves are bad for your health and great microwave alternatives.
Microwaves Can Effect Your Brain
Electromagnetic radiation can be absorbed by organisms, and cause many physiological and functional changes. According to researchers, the central nervous system is one of the most sensitive organs that is targeted by microwave radiation.
This is especially seen in the brain’s learning and memory center, the hippocampus-which is very sensitive to microwave radiation. In a study done in unexposed control rats, hippocampal neurons are aligned in clear, neat rows.
However, in rats treated with long-term exposure to radiation, neurons exhibit edema and are arranged irregularly.
That’s a whole lot of bad news. Now let’s get on to the good news: there are great microwave alternatives.
Toaster ovens-They work just as well as microwaves without microwave radiation. Good for reheating sandwiches, baked goods, vegetables etc. You can even bake, broil, and toast with these things! Often just as compact or even smaller, than microwaves. Check out the alternatives below!
Black and Decker TO1313SBD Toaster Oven $42.99, Amazon
Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Countertop Toaster Oven With Bake Pan $69.19, Amazon
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Dutch Ovens-Another great option for making all kinds of food. This alternative has a variety of uses ranging from making soups, reheating soups, cooking meats, to baking bread! Don’t let its simple appearance fool you; Dutch Ovens are where it’s at! Check out some below.
Puricon 5.5 qt Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven Red, $50.99 Amazon
Best Choice Products 6 qt Enameled Heavy Duty Cast Iron Dutch Oven, $59.49 Amazon
Sulives Non-stick Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven, $59.99 Amazon
Oven and Stovetop-Options we often don’t consider when reheating or making food because we can use the microwave. But you can use the oven and stovetop for many things including reheating food, making teas and soups, even making popcorn! This option can take more time compared to the microwave, but its a safer alternative.
While microwaves offer us convenience by saving time, they also offer some health concerns. Such as degrading and decreasing the amount of quality nutrients found in our food, exposing us to nervous system damaging microwave radiation, and increasing amount of cancer-causing acrylamides in our food.
With that in mind, using safer alternatives like the ones mentioned above and waiting a few extra minutes to reheat dinner may be worth it. Also, did you know that eating from plastic containers can cause dangerous effects like infertility? Read more about that here.