Things to know about the microwave that affect your health

Many people use the microwave to defrost, heat or even cook food. But it’s convenient to know how to use it so as not to change your diet… or your body.

Scientists from the University of Manchester have just shown something alarming: microwave ovens, appliances that are estimated to be present in most homes, pollute as much as cars!

But that’s not the most surprising thing about this device. We reveal 6 facts related to your health that will make you wonder if you want to keep using it so often.

1. Microwaves don’t kill bacteria

Everyone knows that cooking allows you to kill many of the possible bacteria in food. However, when cooking in the microwave, some microorganisms can survive.

The reason, according to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), is that this type of oven heats unevenly and there may be “cold spots” where the heat doesn’t destroy these bad bacteria.

  • If you decide to cook something in the microwave, you must place the food without stacking it (distribute it in the center of a plate).
  • Always add a little liquid and cover the dish with a microwave-safe lid. In this way, the concentrated steam will help to kill bacteria.
  • It’s also a good idea to stop the microwave and mix or flip the food every now and then.

2. There may be radiation “leaks”

A crack or dent in the door, worn gaskets, a broken latch that won’t close properly…

Such microwave damage can cause some of the microwave wave radiation to escape.

Although they are microwave radiation (the same type of light and radio waves) and not ionizing waves, some studies have linked continuous exposure to them with eye damage, sterility, or burns.

And in the absence of further studies that can certify that this type of wave does not otherwise affect health, the most sensible thing to do is to protect ourselves.

  • Check the microwave door, hinges and gaskets to ensure they are in good condition. If you notice any damage or if you pass your hand in front of the door you notice that some air is coming out of the inside, take it in for repair.
  • In any case, experts recommend changing this device at the age of 9 to avoid possible radiation losses.

3. Can plastics be microwaved?

In general, when cooking, it is better to opt for glass or porcelain and avoid any type of plastic.

And it is that some plastic particles (bisphenol-A, phthalates…) can pass into food and, once in the body, act as hormones that can lead to imbalance in the body (this is what is called endocrine disruptors).

This is more likely to happen if food is heated in poor quality plastic containers such as those used to present prepared meals, ice cream trays, certain types of lunch boxes and tuppers…

  • Try your best not to heat fatty foods (such as meat, stews, cheese…) in the microwave. It’s easier for plastic toxins to pass into food in contact with this type of food.
  • Before placing a container made of any type of material in the microwave, check that it is suitable for microwave use (it must have a symbol that recreates waves engraved on it).
  • And remember that not all clear films are suitable for use on this type of device. Look for the symbol on the box of this product to know if it is safe to introduce it.

4. It can spoil the oil

A study published in Food Quality Journal showed that the heat of cooking affects the chemical composition of olive oil and, in particular, the microwave seems to be the cooking method that most decreases its phenolic content.

Phenols are very abundant compounds in olive oil with antioxidant and antimicrobial effects. But since microwave heat especially destroys them, this healthy quality of the oil is “nullified”.

On the other hand, scientists from the Carol Davila University of Medicine and Pharmacy (Bucharest) suggest that heating any type of vegetable oil in the microwave facilitates the formation of lipid peroxidation products, harmful to human health.

  • Try not to use the microwave on greasy preparations and, in any case, reduce the heating time as much as possible (the destruction of phenols increases with the passage of minutes).
  • Choose an oil from the hojiblanca variety, which, according to a study by the University of the Balearic Islands, retains the highest concentration of phenols after being microwaved.

5. It is better not to thaw the milk

According to experts from the Complutense University of Madrid, the process of thawing breast milk leads to a loss of its fat concentration (essential for the baby). This loss is especially important when using the microwave.

Another study from the University of Texas (USA) suggests that heating breast milk in the microwave causes it to lose its immunological properties.

  • It was seen that the nutritional loss is greater the higher the temperature that the milk reaches. For this reason, it is better to opt for a bain-marie, which allows you to defrost and heat it without reaching high temperatures.

6. Foods that “explode” in the microwave

An egg, grapes, a gravy boat without a lid, a glass with liquid in it, some chickpeas… all these foods can explode when taken out of the microwave and cause burns.

And is that this appliance heats the water inside the food, which can cause the high pressure steam to concentrate inside them.

  • Do not put food in the microwave oven that could trap water vapor inside.
  • Caution: the surface of the food may appear cold, while the water inside may be at a high temperature.


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