10 Myths and Facts About Microwaves, Kitchen Nightmare or Lifesaver?
When you need a quick and hassle-free meal preparation solution with limited time on hand, few appliances are as convenient as a microwave. However, lingering questions have arisen regarding the safety of microwaves and their potential to emit endocrine disruptors. To address these concerns, we have investigated to ascertain the safety of microwave use for cooking and to assess any associated health risks.
The Issue of Nutrient Destruction
You may have heard that cooking in a microwave destroys and alters nutrients, but this is a misconception. The truth is that not all food loses its nutritional value when cooked in a microwave. Microwaving can sometimes be more beneficial than boiling, especially for vegetables. Moreover, microwaving can minimize the formation of harmful compounds that can occur when cooking at high temperatures.
The Principle of Microwave
Microwaves use microwaves, a region of the electromagnetic spectrum, to heat food. Microwaves have a very high frequency, so their wavelength is short. The water molecules in food are polar, and when they meet microwaves, they rotate to align with the electromagnetic field. When current flows through the magnetron, the core device that creates microwaves in a microwave, it generates high-frequency microwaves that are sprayed. This principle converts the kinetic energy of water molecules into thermal energy, making the food hot.
Plastic containers should only be used when using a microwave if they are marked for microwave use. If you use plastic that is unsuitable for microwaves, endocrine disruptors may be detected and can interfere with normal bodily functions. Also, when cooking food, you should be careful not to heat it in a sealed container, as it could explode. It is best to use it for a short time to heat food.
Use Microwave Conveniently
Ice cream can be returned to its original taste by defrosting it in the container for 10 seconds. Meat or fish can lose their unique taste when wholly defrosted, so it is better to defrost them halfway. Bread or rice cakes, such as Castella, can be eaten as soft as when first eaten if heated on a paper towel.
The Issue of Endocrine Disruptor Detection
The endocrine disruptor from plastic is Bisphenol A, which is structurally similar to the female hormone estrogen and is known as an endocrine disruptor. If it accumulates in the body, it can induce obesity or strain the liver, so it is better to avoid intake. The plastic with the most detected Bisphenol A is polycarbonate (PC), which is transparent and hard and is used in building exteriors. Low-density polyethylene and polystyrene in plastic bags should also not be used in microwaves.
Materials Prohibited in Microwave Use
In the case of paper products, the strength of the paper can weaken when wet, and wax-coated paper used for cookie packaging can contaminate food with wax, so it is best to use only products marked for microwave use. Also, polystyrene (PS) used in cup noodles or yogurt containers has low heat resistance and can melt at high temperatures, so caution is needed when using a microwave. Foil or metal containers should not be used as microwaves cannot penetrate and are reflected.
Microwaving Vegetables Can Be Beneficial
Microwave use does not destroy all nutrients in food. For vegetables containing vitamins, it is more nutritious and tastier to cook them in a microwave. In the case of vegetables containing a lot of water-soluble vitamins, they tend to dissolve in water, so it is better to cook them in a microwave for a short time with the moisture in the vegetables rather than boiling them in water. Also, if you boil them in water, the remaining heat can easily make the vegetables mushy, but if you use a microwave, it is easy to remove the heat, so the texture is better.
Check for Microwave-Only Container Labels
Most plastic containers are made of polypropylene (PP), polyethylene (PE), or polyethylene terephthalate (PET) materials. Many PP and PE materials are suitable for microwave use, while PET materials, which account for most plastic beverage bottles, have low heat resistance and are unsuitable for microwave use.
Is It Okay to Run It for a Long Time?
You might think harmful substances come out if you run the microwave longer than recommended. However, according to a Food and Drug Administration study, which collected and examined microwave-only containers made of PP and PE materials, harmful substances were not detected even after the recommended usage time had passed. The usual recommended time is about 2-3 minutes based on 700W.
Cleaning the Microwave
Although microwaves are convenient, they can be a hassle to clean. In this case, put two pieces of lemon in a cup of water and heat it for 2-3 minutes. You can also heat a cup of barley tea or black tea. If you clean it every time you use it instead of postponing the cleaning, you can eliminate the lingering smell and use the microwave more cleanly.
By. Shin Young Jeon