Is Microwave Oven Good for Health?

Is microwave oven good for health?, Many people feel hesitant in using microwave ovens because of the health hazard rumours they must have encountered from somewhere about how microwaves change the chemical nature of food items or can result in cancers as they emit harmful radiations when plugged in. However, these facts do not have any fixed basis or proves to support them. 

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What Is Microwave Radiation & Is microwave oven good for health?

A microwave oven is a power driven oven that defrost and cooks eatables by exposing it to electromagnetic radiation in the microwave frequency range. This lets polar molecules present  in the food item to vibrate and produce thermal energy. This process is called as dielectric heating. Microwaves includes both electrical and magnetic energy simultaneously.

Microwaves, and radio frequency rays are the examples of non-ionizing radiation.  

Microwaves are used in ovens for cooking and defrosting due to three reasons: they can be reflected by metallic surface; they can pass through glass and other materials used for making cooking containers; and they can be absorbed by eatables. Other than in ovens, microwaves are used as a medium for telephone and television communications, to dry and cure plywood, to cook potato chips etc. 


Microwave Ovens and Health

Microwave radiation can burn skin in the same way as it heats food. Exposure to strong microwaves can cause serious issues particularly to the eyes and the testes as these areas have less blood flow as compared to other organs. In fact, the eye lens specifically is highly sensitive towards rf rays/microwaves which can lead to cataracts. 

Also, many may have encountered certain rumours about how microwave radiation can result in cancer cases or zap all the food nutrients. But till date there have been no such research which prove such claims true.

But that doesn’t mean that the using microwave ovens is totally safe. There are chances of the oven wiring catching fire or you getting burns. So, users particularly children should stay careful while using microwaves.

Users should go through all the guidelines given in the instruction manual thoroughly before beginning to use microwaves. Recommendations particularly related to heating and temperature must be followed closely. 

Finally, let’s discuss certain issues related to microwave ovens to burst all clouds of irrelevant rumours.

Are Microwave Radiations Harmful?

Certainly, almost all microwave users know that these ovens emit electromagnetic radiation. At other times this can be concerning since every person is aware about the radiation’s harmful effects. Although, radiation produced by ovens is not of the same kind as that produced by atomic bombs and nuclear hazards but is similar to that of the one emitted by the mobile devices.

The non-ionized radiations emitted by microwaves are only much stronger than the mobile ones. Nevertheless, microwave ovens are made with metal shields and metal screens over the window to forbid radiations from coming out of the oven, so there remain no chances of any kind of danger.

Even then, do take precautions, and don’t bring your head near the oven compartment. Effects of radiation reduces rapidly with increase in distance. Also, do verify that the microwave oven is in proper condition. If it’s worn off or broken — or if the door doesn’t fit — either inform or buy a new one. 

Skin Problems Due to Microwaves

Skin burns are a common issue among microwave oven users. Scalding injuries over hands due to hot water spilling out of the container can create panic among users.

The main cause is, super-heated water (water heated past its boiling temperature) isn’t visible by just looking at it. And if the water has reached to its super-heated state, even the slightest movement for e.g., lifting the container may result in the water erupting out of it. This risk can be reduced by adding any other ingredient i.e., coffee, sugar etc. Before putting the container into the oven.

Also, avoid heating any baby formula through microwave to prevent the risk of serious burns. 

Mostly, microwave safety issues usually differ a little for different models. So, it depends on what oven you choose. For all cases, do take a look at the customer reviews, yellow star ratings and clear out other relevant things before buying the product.

Does Microwaves Reduce the Nutrient Value of The Food?

There are certain confusions among users that whether or not the microwave ovens reduce the food nutrient more than normal cooking.

For any kind of cooking, the factors to be considered are temperature, time and method. 

In traditional cooking technique, it is seen that while boiling, food may lose water nutrients. Now, for microwaves, cooking time is relatively short and the temperature low. Plus, in microwaves, generally no boiling is needed. The food after microwaving is also taken as healthier as it takes less oil for microwaving. So, microwave ovens should be preferred as cooking food in these ovens reduces relative nutrient loss.

Few researches claim that loss of nutrients is no less in other cooking techniques than microwaving. In fact, it was revealed, that microwaving conserve antioxidants better when compared with pressure cooking and other defrosting methods.

Microwaving also lessen the chances of harmful compounds formation while heating certain foods items. For instance, bacon (nitrites present in bacon) form harmful compounds called nitrosamines when heated excessively. When the same is cooked through microwaving, it forms the least nitrosamine among all the cooking techniques. Similar is the case of chicken frying.

Just remember to not use certain plastic dishes while microwaving as these containers have hormone-disrupting compounds which can cause cancer, thyroid problems, and obesity. It is possible that these dishes may leach these harmful things into the eatables while heating. This fact is mostly the same for all cooking methods and not just microwaving.

Although, in one research it was seen that as less as 1 minute of microwaving damage certain cancer-fighting compounds in garlic, which is about 45 minutes in other cooking methods. It is also recommended to avoid boiling human milk through microwaving as it can destroy the antibacterial agents of the milk.

Microwaves due to less cooking time and low temperature (which can also lead to undercooked food), may not kill harmful bacteria as effectively as in other cooking methods. This can cause food poisoning. To prevent this, making sure to heat food sufficiently so as to kill all harmful pathogens. 

These facts prove that whether microwaving the food is healthy or not sometimes depends on the type of nutrient. so we got answer for is microwave oven good for health?

Thus, apart from a few exceptions, microwaves are beneficial for health.

Using a microwave is also energy-efficient as not only the cooking time is less but it requires 70-80% less energy when compared with a traditional one. 

Safety Standards Against Microwave Radiations

There has been taken certain precautions by the FDA as they set and enforce standards of performance for electric appliances to make sure that radiations emitted by these appliances do not prone a health hazard for other people. A federal standard has limited the quantity of microwaves leakage to the one far below the level (as per researches) which can harm anyone.

The standard also made it mandatory for all ovens to have two independent interlock systems to prevent the leakage of microwaves as soon as someone opens the oven compartment door. Also, all microwaves go through standard tests in laboratories and are given with a must have label stating indicating that they are safe for common use.

Conclusion on is microwave oven good for health

Is microwave oven good for health?, Most injuries due to microwave ovens are of heat-related burns and not radiation-related. There have been very rare cases of radiation injury that too can only happen if the door hinges, latch, or seals are faulty. With FDA regulations over the microwave ovens related guidelines these are high-level radiation leaks are next to impossible.

It is for the users too, to understand that they should follow all the instructions given in the guideline manual related to heating, microwave- safe containers or temperature related precautions and discontinue the use while contacting the retailer in case the microwave misbehaves or is faulty or broken. Other than that, using microwaves is totally safe and beneficial.