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Can food cooked in Microwave Ovens harm us

10 Feb 2020

Be it reheating your last night’s leftovers, hurrying up on popcorn during movie intervals, or auto cooking ‘gaajar ka halwa’ for immediate guests, microwave ovens have truly given us some amazing hacks to work the kitchen. But a lot of speculation goes around if food cooked in microwave ovens is safe for our consumption? To understand this, we must study how these wonder devices work in the first place.

How do they work?

These new age ovens don’t use any heating coils, grills, or steamers to process our food. Rather they have an instrument called ‘Magnetron’ inside them which is a microwave generator. These are electromagnetic waves, just like radio waves and infrared waves; just of different wavelengths. The microwaves generated from the Magnetron bounces on the reflective insides of the ovens, directed towards the food. These electromagnetic waves’ have a particular wavelength which affects the asymmetrical molecules in the food, namely water, and other molecules with a positive and a negatively charged end.

These affected molecules begin to vibrate when disturbed. They generate friction among one another which leads to thermal energy. Hence unlike OTG machines, i.e. Oven-Toaster-Grills, which employ external heat, microwave ovens heat the food from the inside.

When does cooking harmfully affect food?

Any style of cooking, be it gas, induction, or oven, doesn’t explicitly ‘harm’ or destroy the essential nutrients present in the food. It is just high temperature or over cooking which can burn the food and break down the minerals in it. Even when we boil vegetables, so much of the nutrients are drained out of the food, compromising on taste and texture. Vitamin-C present in citrus foods is the most susceptible to breaking down in heat. Cooking time in microwave ovens is the least when compared to any other style, say baking, boiling or steaming, consequently ensuring lesser time to heat exposure and successfully retaining even Vitamin C, and other essential minerals.

More so, the electromagnetic radiation stops as soon as one plug out the oven and no radiation are present in the food; and definitely not after you take it out.

So, what’s the verdict?

Till the time you maintain the cooking temperature and not overcook the food, microwave ovens can provide a safe way to cook nutritious food.

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