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Is Microwave Cooking Unhealthy?

MicrowaveDear Tammy and Lyssie,

I heard that eating food that has been cooked in the microwave causes cancer and it shouldn’t be eaten anyway since it loses all of its nutrients. Is this true?

Sylvia, Vermont

Dear Sylvia,

We understand your concern. The microwave oven rumor began in the late 1980’s and unsubstantiated claims have been circulating ever since. Here’s the real deal with microwaves:

What exactly is a microwave and how does it work?

A microwave oven heats food by using radio waves that are almost identical to radar. The frequency used in microwaves (about 2,500 megahertz [MHz)) is stronger than the frequency that’s used to transmit radio, television and cell phone signals, but thousands of times weaker than visible light, X-rays and ultraviolet light. 2,500 MHz microwaves can get absorbed by the water, fats and sugars in food. That generates heat that cooks the food. (And that is how The Nutrition Twins® get hot food daily.)

What do the experts say?

The Health and Physics Society, a nonprofit organization that promotes radiation safety states that microwave radiation cannot cause cancer simply because it doesn’t have enough power to damage your DNA. Once the oven is off, it produces no more microwaves and those that were produced are long gone. In fact, scientists seem to think that microwaving food decreases the risk of cancer compared to grilling or frying.

Does the microwave zap all of the nutrients out of food?

No. In fact, if you don’t use a lot of water and don’t overcook the food, compared to other forms of cooking, microwaving preserves more nutrients. Most nutrients are mainly lost into water and none (or very little) water is needed when cooking vegetables or anything else that already naturally contains a lot of water. (Surprisingly, most nutrients aren’t destroyed by heat.

So what do The Nutrition Twins say about microwave ovens?

Microwave ovens save time, and in our time-crunched society, most people grab food that is easy and convenient, but not always healthy. Microwave ovens can help people to eat more healthfully by assisting in preparing foods in a jiffy. In terms of health and nutrition, this sure beats “ordering in” or “taking out.” We are both all for speed and convenience of the microwave oven that seems to do all good—and no harm! Just be sure to minimize the amount of water you use when you cook your vegetables in the microwave so that the nutrients don’t get washed away in the water.

Source: http://www.nutritiontwins.com

October 10, 2007 | Permalink


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There have been reports that using plastic containers or plastic wrap to heat food in the microwave oven can be harmful. There is a substance in plastic that gets absorbed or leaches into the food which can cause cancer. Using glass containers or corning ware is best.

Posted by: | Oct 25, 2007 2:49:25 PM

I would suggest doing an internet search on, The Swiss Clinical Study, and reading up on this topic.

I have given up the use of microwaves years ago.

Posted by: Scott | Nov 18, 2007 5:28:10 PM

Wow. I feel sorry for those who believe in this stuff.

Posted by: | Aug 3, 2008 6:26:52 PM

It has been proven that microwaves kill most of the nutrients in food, causing people to eat more calories then they should, making them less fit/healthy, in other words over-weight.

Posted by: | Aug 4, 2008 12:22:20 PM

its ignorant to say microwaves destroy nutrients, somehow these arent sentsative to heat and thus arent destroyed, do your homework!

Posted by: | Aug 20, 2008 11:39:24 AM

is microwaving food in saran wrap unhealthy

Posted by: | Sep 17, 2008 7:08:15 PM

I did a simple controlled experiment of heating and boiling a couple cups of water in two ways. One was boiled in a standard electric stove, the other boiled in a microwave. Both where in identical pyrex bowls.

Both were cooled to room temperature. I had 12 identical house plants, 6 watered over the period of a few weeks with the water from the oven, and 6 from the water of the microwave.

By the end of the 1st week, the plants watered with microwaved water began to look noticeably ill, while the plants watered with the oven water seemed normal.

This progressed and by the end of the 3rd week, the results were very clear. The plants watered with the oven water were still normal in appearance, while the plants watered with microwaved water had shriveled and turned almost black.

I am convinced microwaving food is unhealthy. I'm almost also certain that there is a lot of money in microwave industry, and like cigarettes, there may be many efforts to keep this information from the public. I would not be surprised if there are debunking efforts from the microwave industry.

Simple experiments can prove whether or not a microwaved meal is healthy or not.

Posted by: | Dec 11, 2008 9:03:25 AM


Posted by: | Dec 11, 2008 9:12:17 AM

I personally don't trust microwaves.

Posted by: DavidJuaquin | Feb 3, 2009 7:27:57 PM

this was a good....

Posted by: adsf | Apr 13, 2009 2:35:38 PM

Wow, it is unfortunate that you two are so misinformed about this topic. As soon as I started reading it, I realized how ridiculous your point of view is.

Please do more research -- and don't be afraid to question authority. Since some people seem to easily agree with you, which is a shame, you should make it a moral obligation to think about their health. Don't make it so blatant that you only follow what reports you are told by the medical community.

Be better than that, please.

Posted by: Austin | Jun 23, 2009 3:17:14 PM


If you are unsure about this, you should investigate for yourself. By that I don't mean a Google search on "health and microwaves" but to look at the mechanism by which microwaves affect matter. Research that, see if it logically makes sense.

Here are the facts.

1. Microwaves are a form of electromagnetic radiation approx in the range of 10^9 hertz.

2. Any radiation roughly below the x-ray range simply cannot break a molecular bond (microwaves being a prime example).

3. Therefore the bond breaking of food in a microwave is impossible. No carcinogens can form in food where there are no available ions to make them up.

4. Nutrient loss (i.e in vegetables) occurs when a vegetable is heated in water, in which case the nutrients are leached out into the water.

Cook some carrots and the water is orange from the carotene (orange pigment), this carotene is vitamin A, the fact that it is still reflecting an orange color which is a property of the molecule means its not broken (or ionized), it simply is not in the carrot anymore.

-Furthermore the websites that bash microwaving NEVER have sources to cite the the so called "clinical studies."

-Go talk to a chemist at your nearest university if you have a hard time understanding this, they would be delighted I'm sure to talk with ANYONE lol.

-This is not about government misinformation and questioning authority.

Be better than that. Please read a book.

Posted by: Jack | Jul 13, 2009 12:03:48 PM

Calling people "misinformed" or "ignorant" simply because they choose to believe or disbelieve a concept, technology, or study is name calling and does not belong in any intelligent adult discussion on a topic. It especially does not belong in such an important topic as nutrition and food and our bodies. You may choose to believe that microwaves or healthy or not, and it is my personal belief that the belief is as strong as what is believed. But one thing I have learned is that as soon as we are positive about something life goes and pulls the rug out from under us.
Case in point- In the 1980's my first husband was diagnosed with Cancer. He read a lot of "alternative" perspectives on health and cancer prevention, many of which I still believe were bogus, but distilled his ideas down to a few notions that the doctors he saw at that time declared completely unproven and untrue. These were that eating raw foods, especially sprouts, carrots, and broccoli family plants were beneficial in bolstering the immune system and thus preventing and even reversing cancer. His battle with cancer was so remarkable (he had been diagnosed with advanced fourth stage and given only a short time to live but lived 6 additional years and never lost his hair to chemo)that he drew the attention of the then young doctors at Stanford who subsequently studied his diet to develop the
now popular ideas about the importance of these foods.
One of the critical points he believed about the value of raw food was not in their nutrition alone, but in the value of the enzymes they give our body. Enzymes are killed off by microwaves. So that would be a point, from my experience, in arguing against the microwave.
Also very important, was a point brought up by an earlier poster- the danger of substances found in plastics which are heated in microwaves. European studies have show that this process releases dioxins, which are highly toxic and proven carcinogenic in even small quantities. So using tupperware, or saranwrap in a microwave would appear to be a 'no no'.
These same labs indicate that you should also not freeze water or food in regular tupperware plastic containers. But there are containers in tougher plastic which would seem to resist these same processes.
There are similar studies in the U.S.A. which completely contradict these findings, and upon which naysayers rely. But then these same labs rely in large part upon the loyalty of their big and consistent companies, the same who market and produce these plastics and tupperwares.
But I use these things in my fridge, I use a microwave to reheat cooked food and to defrost. And just in case, I stand back from it. I do use a stainless water bottle now though.
So what is right and what is wrong? I believe it can be different based upon beliefs and also upon each individuals metabolism and chemistry. When I first met my husband I was sure I knew. Being from the East Coast and coming to California, I knew the theories were all terribly ignorant and misinformed. Then I realized that I was. And now, being older and more experienced, I realize that each point of view has its value and must be considered and respected. Principally, I believe it is very important to listen and evaluate as fully and deeply as possible, the different ideas about nutrition and health not just as in terms of their widespread and general truths, but very importantly in terms of our bodies and selves- we are each unique exquisite creations of God and as our body is our temple, we must honor it by caring for it , keeping it cleansed, fortified, and by listening to it. And how we respect ourselves is how we must respect each other.
So...listen to the wealth of information in all its forms! Thank you for all your postings and for this site.
Be well, live long.
P.S. My first husband died in 1986 after his valient struggle when radiation treatments metasticized a tumor too quickly- otherwise he had been winning his battle till then, he even climbed a mountain a month before.

Posted by: Mary

Posted by: Mary | Aug 8, 2009 1:15:15 PM

P.P.S. The plant watering experiment is very interesting- reminds me of Dr. Masaru Emoto's experiments, worth reading.

Posted by: Mary | Aug 8, 2009 1:30:16 PM

There was one comment posted that made sense to me and I reseached it. the frequency at which a microwave oven operates CANNOT cause any form of radiation damage ..... cannot, it isnt physically possible... period ... THATS the fact. Mary, im sorry for your loss and it seems that your husband used some common sense and derived, what seems to me, a common sense approach to healing himself, eat LIVING fresh foods and you ARE what you eat. Any cooking of foods wether pan fried, heated in a conventional oven or otherwise bombarding molecules which causes friction then the normal response of said activity .... heat, would seem to me to be an unnatural way to prepare food. Alas, I also think that a steak cooked over a wood fire is my favorite. I guess what im trying to say is .. facts are facts .... use them to your advantage and dont join the conspiracy theorists ..... Join the people that use facts. not scare tactics.

Posted by: Scott C | Aug 17, 2009 7:18:26 AM

Everyone should read this - Very scientific explanation!
Peace to all!

Posted by: karuna | Nov 3, 2010 6:26:27 AM

Sorry forgot to attach http://chetday.com/microwave.html :)

Posted by: karuna | Nov 3, 2010 6:27:03 AM

The people that think microwaves are dangerous are the same people that think 9/11 was an inside job.

Posted by: FACT | Jul 17, 2011 9:16:56 AM



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