Does Nuking Food Destroy its Helpful Nutrients?
The truth about that fast-action cooker in your kitchen.
Short answer: No. In fact, microwaves don't "nuke" food at all. That popular misconception dates back to the microwave oven's ill-timed introduction to the American public, three short months after the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki.
"Microwave heat is really no different from ordinary heat. It just occurs faster," says Daryl Lund, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of food science at the University of Wisconsin. But that fast-action heat is what makes microwaves superior to conventional ovens in many circumstances, says Lund.
A study in Nutrition and Food Science found that microwaved vegetables retained up to 20 percent more vitamins than stove-cooked produce. But don't let those results lull you into thinking that all microwaved food is safe and healthy. According to the USDA's Food Safety and Inspection Service, microwaving food in a takeout container, margarine tub, or one-time-use plastic bowl can potentially leach toxic chemicals into your meal.
"If you wouldn't heat the container and contents in a conventional oven, don't stick it in the microwave," says Lund. Make sure the words microwave safe are printed on your plasticware. Or just use glass.
And if you really want to be healthy—microwave or no microwave—follow these 10 Painless Ways to Upgrade Your Diet.
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