Microwaves have been with us since the 1970’s and along with convenience, the microwave offers some surprising health benefits as well.
I remember microwaves first appearing in restaurants, suddenly you could warm things up in seconds. Then later they became cheap enough for people to have in their homes and everyone loved them.
They have an excellent safety record, but some people still think that cooking food with them makes food less healthy by zapping the nutrients out.
So, how do they work?
Basically microwaves cook food using waves of energy similar to radio waves only shorter, heating the water molecules, forcing them to rub against each other and generate consistent heat. This means that microwaves are great for cooking foods that have a high water content.
Microwave cooking times are shorter than conventional cooking such as boiling or steaming so more nutrients are preserved.
What foods are high in water?
Well broccoli is 88% water, peas are 80% water and carrots are 89% water. All these veg will benefit from microwave cooking as they will cook quickly due to their water content and the way a microwave works by consistently heating the water molecules in the veg.
This will in turn preserve more of the heat sensitive vitamins such as vitamin C, Folate (B9) and thiamin (B1). You can microwave veg with little or no water which will further preserve the water soluble vitamins and the minerals that normally leech out into boiling water.
Do microwaves do flavour any favours?
It is said that ‘fridges do flavour no favours’ and the science behind this phrase is that cooling, for example tomatoes, reduces the activity of hundreds of genes, this then reduces the production of enzymes that give tomatoes their intense taste.
Similarly the overheating of veg negatively affects the flavour, think over-boiled Brussels sprouts and cabbage
. Microwaving veg does not raise the internal temperature of the veg beyond boiling which helps preserve the flavour.
The best cooking method for preserving nutrients is one that cooks quickly and uses the least liquid.
So, the microwaves shorter cooking time, lower internal heat and very little water used for cooking makes it a healthy technology for cooking vegetables, along with preserving flavour..
Director - Nutrient expert, researcher & data miner
I am responsible for the scientific research and data oversight at the CheckYourFood Group. A great journey of discovery for me as I uncover the myriad of goodness that natural food contains and facilitate others to promote health and wellbeing.
Love this? Get blogs and more in your inbox
Subscribe to receive our blogs plus each weeks featured ingredient, recipe and nutrient in your inbox