The Right Way to Use a Microwave: Insights from Dieticians
By NCVC Staff | Published on Oct 09, 2023
Do you ever worry that using a microwave to heat your food could be dangerous? Perhaps you’ve heard rumors that it can even cause cancer. Let’s clear up some misconceptions and get the facts straight.
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Reheating food in the microwave has become the new normal. We often order takeout and warm it up later to satisfy those late-night hunger pangs. But does microwaving our food really make it cancerous or harmful to our health?
To understand this topic better, we consulted with two expert dieticians: Kajal Wattamwar and Bushra Qureshi, the Co-founders of Healthy Steady Go. They explained how microwave radiation is different from other types and also shared some key tips for using a microwave oven safely to avoid any potential health concerns.
Understanding Different Types of Radiations
There are two main types of radiation: ionizing and non-ionizing.
1. Ionizing Radiations
Ionizing radiations, such as X-rays, Gamma rays, and even UV rays from the sun, have the potential to damage cell DNA and can lead to cancer if there is overexposure.
2. Non-Ionizing Radiations
Microwaves emit non-ionizing radiation, which is harmless. These microwaves cause food particles to vibrate, generating heat and warming the food.
So, in simple terms, using a microwave to heat your food does not make it poisonous or harmful to your health. That’s a relief, isn’t it?
Precautions for Cooking Food in the Microwave
To ensure safe microwave usage, here are some essential precautions:
1. Clean Up Spilled Food
Leaving food residue in your microwave can attract pests, such as cockroaches, which are immune to radiation. These pests can reproduce in your oven and contaminate your food vessels with their dung and bacteria like salmonella.
2. Ensure a Well-Sealed Door
While microwave radiation is not a threat to your food, it can be harmful to humans if released in significant amounts. Ensure that the doors of your microwave are tightly sealed with good rubber protection to prevent any radiation leaks.
3. Use a Faraday Mesh
A Faraday cage or mesh is a black, mesh-like enclosure that blocks electromagnetic fields. When buying a microwave, ensure that the microwave lid is protected with this shield. Sometimes, the transparent glass on the microwave door can leak radiation, so be cautious.
4. Avoid Close Contact
To minimize unnecessary exposure, it’s beneficial to move away from the kitchen when the microwave is in use.
5. Opt for Microwave-Safe Glass Containers
Instead of using plastic containers, always choose microwave-safe glass containers. Plastic containers tend to release harmful chemicals like BPA and phthalates, which can disrupt normal human functioning, especially in women, and create hormonal imbalances.
Nutrient Loss in Microwave Cooking
Yes, it’s true that there is some nutrient loss when using a microwave. However, this loss is common in any type of heating process. Like everything else, microwave ovens have their advantages and disadvantages.
“In today’s fast-paced world, microwaves save cooking time and can be seen as a boon for sustainable nutrition, reducing reliance on conventional resources like coal, wood, and LPG,” says Wattamwar.
“At the same time, some health experts are against any form of radiation. But then, that would mean avoiding radiation from WiFi connections or emitted by mobile phones. In today’s world, it’s nearly impossible to live without these gadgets. However, we can take safety measures to prevent overexposure,” adds Qureshi.
Ultimately, whether you choose to use a microwave or stick to conventional cooking methods, it’s important to take all necessary precautions. Stay safe and stay healthy, ladies!