The microwave: friend, or foe? Safe, or dangerous? It’s been a long-standing debate, especially in the health world, and we’re here to give you the answers you’re looking for when it comes to microwave dangers.
Imagine you’ve made a delicious, healthy meal. Some organic chicken or fish with some deliciously seasoned vegetables on the side, packed with vitamins, nutrients, protein, fat, and minerals. You enjoyed it so much for dinner that you’re going to take some for lunch the next day. Noon rolls around, and you warm up that delicious, healthy meal in a plastic container in the microwave… did you just negate all the healthy components of those wholesome foods? Is the microwave sabotaging your health?
First of all, let’s look at the problem of plastic containers. Plastic contains chemicals like phthalates and BPA (bisphenol-A), both harmful compounds that are added to plastic or other goods (makeup and personal care products often contain phthalates). Phthalates help make plastic soft and flexible, while BPA makes it hard and clear. What’s so dangerous about these?
Phthalates and BPA are substances that actually mimic human hormones. They are known endocrine disruptors. Your endocrine system is made up of a whole slew of important glands that produce hormones. These hormones regulate almost every function in your body, including metabolism, tissue function, sexual function, sleep, mood, and development. But didn’t we just say those plastic chemicals are endocrine disruptors? Does that mean they’re interfering with all of these hormones, and the important processes they regulate? Absolutely.
What’s worse, when plastic is heated in something like a microwave, these chemicals are more likely to leach into your food. You then ingest the food, and the chemicals get into your body, with easy access to that endocrine system they love messing with so much.
According to a Harvard Healthy Publication, even plastic containers with a microwave safe label are not necessarily safe. They are simply containers that the FDA has not deemed safe or unsafe yet. To be safe, avoid microwaving your food in plastic containers altogether. Glass is a much better, safer option.
Microwave: Friend or Foe?
But what about the microwave itself? Is it safe to heat food in? Janet Jacks, founder of Goodness Me!, clears some of the confusion for us in her book, Discover the Power of Food (available here):
"Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation. As such, they cook in a way that is very different from your stove or oven, and they subject your food to a very different experience at the molecular level.
Microwaves cause the water molecules in food to vibrate intensely at millions of times per second. This creates molecular friction, which in turn rapidly heats the food. At the same time, it exerts a change in the chemical structure of your food. No large-scale studies have been done to determine just what those changes might mean for you, but there are warning signs that you would be wise to heed. One naturopath claims that watering your plants with water boiled in the microwave will kill it. (I haven’t tried it.)
Microwave manufacturers have been required only to be concerned about radiation exposure to those cooking with it, not to the unknown effects microwaving might have on the food itself. We do know that more nutrients are lost when cooking in the microwave. We know that microwaving impacts molecular structure. As well, plastic and paper microwavable containers can leach chemicals and carcinogenic toxins into the foods that are cooked in them.
Avoid the microwave. To compromise your health is too steep a price for the convenience it offers. Once you make that decision, you will find new ways to prepare and reheat food quickly and efficiently, and before long, you will not miss the microwave at all."
The health hazards of using a microwave might not still be 100% clear—but are you willing to risk it?
Instead, avoid the microwave altogether and bring your warm lunch in a thermos (soup anyone?), or heat it in a glass container over a pot of hot water if you have access to it at work. Or, bring a lunch that does not need to be heated. At home, use the oven and stove whenever possible.
If you use the microwave for convenience and quick meals, choose recipes that are quick but still nutritious! This delicious Kale and Sweet Potato Hash is a super-fast, super healthy, super delicious meal to make any time of day—breakfast, lunch, or dinner. No microwave required!
1 organic sweet potato, chopped
1 cup organic kale, chopped
3 cloves organic garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp coconut oil
2 strips organic bacon, cooked
1 organic egg
¼ cup goat cheese, crumbled
Herbamare, to taste
Heat coconut oil in pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sweet potato and sauté until tender. Add chopped kale and let cook for 2-3 minutes more. Add cooked bacon, crumbled or chopped. Stir and season to taste. Meanwhile, in second pan over medium heat, slow cook an egg, to desired doneness. Place egg on top of hash and sprinkle with goat cheese. Serve warm and enjoy this Powerhouse Breakfast.
Do your health a favour: ditch the microwave, and embrace the freedom it brings!