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Microwaving foods… is it safe and healthy?

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Microwaving foods… is it safe and healthy?

Microwaving is a method of cooking that is super easy and convenient, but also pretty controversial. A quick Google search will flood you with articles claiming microwaves cause harmful radiation, cancer, and destroy all the good nutrients in foods - sounds bad, right!? Here’s the science behind microwaving…

What is it?

Microwaves heat and cook food by producing ‘micro waves’ (a type of electromagnetic radiation) that bounce around in the microwave, and cook food by causing the water molecules to vibrate and heat the items.

Is it dangerous?

Whilst cooking food with electromagnetic radiation might sound dangerous, the good news is that it's completely safe. Studies into microwaving food suggest that it’s a safe form of cooking, and isn’t linked to cancer. Some concern also exists around plastic packaging leaking into foods in the microwave and the links to cancer. However, many plastics and containers are designed to be microwave safe and to withstand high temperatures to prevent leaking of plastic particles. A good way to be sure is checking if your containers have a ‘microwave safe’ symbol on them.

Microwaving foods… is it safe and healthy?

Does it nuke the nutrients out?

Popular belief is that microwaving foods totally nukes all the good nutrients, so why bother right? However, many studies have been conducted comparing cooking methods and nutrient retention, and it was found microwaving can actually be a great way to preserve fragile nutrients, like Vitamin C.

Any cooking process (i.e. heating) will change the chemical structure of foods and has the potential to destroy nutrients. Usually, this happens when food is cooked for too long, or at too high temperatures. The time and temperature you use also depends on the type of food, for example, meat and fish need to be cooked for longer and at a higher temperature than veggies.

Microwaving can actually be a great way to cook foods, especially veggies, as rapid heating preserves the polyphenols and antioxidants. Short bursts of heating have been shown to save most of the vitamin C in veggies. Nutrients like the B and C group vitamins can also be leaked and lost in water, so microwaving veggies in a small amount of water has actually been proven to be better compared to boiling.

Is microwaving better for killing germs?

Cooking and correctly reheating food significantly reduces the chance of food poisoning. Generally, foods need to be heated above 65 degrees Celsius to destroy any bugs, but some toxins are heat resistant. One disadvantage of microwaving is that it can unevenly heat food, which can be a food safety issue.

Top Tips

Overall, microwaving can be a great cooking method that is quick and easy. Some tips for home;

  • Check all your packaging, Tupperware and crockery to be sure that it is microwave safe, and if it isn’t, transfer to a container that is.
  • Cook foods like veggies for short periods of time with a small amount of water to maximise nutrient retention.
  • Stir and rotate food like rice, eggs, and meat to ensure they are evenly heated to prevent food borne illness.
  • Check out some of our microwave recipes
Your Personal Healthy Eating Quiz

What you eat or don’t eat affects how you look, feel and perform. Take our short quiz to find out what foods you could introduce to help you be your best.

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What is healthy eating?

Eating healthy is making sure you enjoy a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups daily, in the amounts recommended. The five major food groups as recommended by the Australian Guide to Healthy Eating are:

  1. vegetables and legumes/bean
  2. fruit
  3. lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, legumes/beans
  4. grain (cereal) foods, mostly wholegrain and/or high cereal fibre varieties
  5. milk, yoghurt, cheese and/or alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

Foods are grouped together because they provide similar amounts of key nutrients and eating a variety of foods from the list above helps to promote good health and reduce the risk of disease.

How do I improve my diet?

If you want to improve your diet you have come to the right place. By completing the Healthy Eating Quiz you’ll receive instant personalised feedback and a report on your diet quality to highlight any areas where you can improve your overall eating habits. Your score is based on the frequency and variety of the foods consumed from the five major food groups mentioned above. No Money No Time can help you improve your score by providing tips, goals and suggestions. On top of this we will provide quick, cheap and healthy recipes as well as credible answers to diet hacks, myths and FAQ’s.

Is my diet healthy?

Dietary habits are different between people. Some people choose to follow a particular diet (i.e., Keto diet or vegan diet) while some have to make changes due to certain food restrictions or health conditions. If you want to know if what you usually eat is healthy, then do the Healthy Eating Quiz today to give you the answers in less than 10 minutes.

Why is healthy eating important?

Your HEQ score and personalised feedback report is based on the frequency and variety of healthy core foods you usually eat. This is important because no single food contains all the nutrients we need to stay healthy. Some foods are higher in nutrients than others and people who have a lot of variety in the foods they eat are more likely to be healthy and to stay healthy. In other words, if you can eat a large variety of vegetables as opposed to only 2-3 types of vegetables, the benefits are much greater. This type of diet also helps you to feel better, think better and perform better during your usual daily activities.

Take the Healthy Eating Quiz