Benefits of Microwave Cooking and Dangers Associated with It
- Is Cooking in a Microwave Oven Safe?
- What are the Various Types of Microwave Ovens?
- How Does a Microwave Oven Work?
- How to Use the Microwave Oven Rightly
- Foods You Should Never Place in the Microwave Oven
- Does a Microwave Oven Decrease Your Food’s Nutritional Value?
- Tips to Keep in Mind While Using a Microwave Oven
Microwave ovens are one of the greatest inventions in the last century. It has never been easy to take out food that is ice-cold and warm it up in a matter of minutes. Even defrosting meat takes mere minutes, and you are ready to cook your meal! We all know the innumerable benefits associated with a microwave oven but do we know the dangers that come with it? Let’s investigate more about the pros and cons of microwave ovens.
Is Cooking in a Microwave Oven Safe?
Ovens have made everybody’s lives across the planet easier. Heating food has never been quicker, and households have hot food served in a matter of minutes. Some dangers come with using a microwave oven and those include:
- Decreased bioavailability of various vitamins and minerals.
- Heating milk and grains changed some of the essential amino acids into carcinogens.
- Nutritional value was reduced.
- Plant alkaloids were converted into carcinogens in raw or frozen vegetables.
- Microwave sickness was noticed.
What are the Various Types of Microwave Ovens?
There is always this dilemma we face when it comes to choosing the right microwave oven. This is because there is a large choice that you can select from. They differ in form as well as functionality. Based on the kind of requirement you have in your kitchen, it is easy to pick up one, which would be comfortably in your budget. Remember, microwave ovens are an investment, so it is worth spending that extra penny to get the best quality. This will also make sure that it lasts for a long time. Here are some different kinds of microwave ovens.
1. Convection Oven
This oven uses convection to heat up the contents inside. A fan and heating elements ensure that the hot air cooks and crusts everything evenly.
2. Grill Oven
Grill ovens can be used for cooking food that is crispy and juicy like kebabs, meats and tikkas. This is useful is browning some kinds of food and can work for up to 90 minutes.
3. Solo Oven
A basic oven that heats uniformly, used mainly for simple baking or reheating is called a solo type oven. Useful if you don’t have plans for cooking anything grand.
4. Over the Range Oven
These ovens come with an oven and a range hood and can be installed on the wall over your stove top. This essentially combines the microwave and the ventilation unit to save you space.
5. Countertop Oven
Countertop ovens are placed right on the counter and make for a great choice for people who do not want to alter their kitchen to get a microwave oven unit in place.
6. Built-in Oven
These microwave ovens can be built right into the kitchen cabinets. The advantages – you can place it at any height, give your kitchen a neater look, and save space on your counter.
How Does a Microwave Oven Work?
There exists a generator inside the walls of the oven called a magnetron. Once you switch on the microwave oven, the magnetron takes up all the energy from the power source and turns it into radio waves, which are electromagnetic waves of a certain frequency. The food spins around while the magnetron blasts radio waves at it. As the microwaves bounce off the walls and finally hit the food, they penetrate it, travel through and subsequently, and vibrate the molecules inside. This vibration leads to the heating of the food. The fast they vibrate, the hotter the food gets. Once it is done, you get a bowl/plate of fresh hot food!
How to Use the Microwave Oven Rightly
It can be a tightrope walk when it comes to using a oven. There are many buttons performing a number of functions, and it can be tough to wrap your head around them all and let’s be honest, nobody wants to go through the manual. However, if you start with the basics, you can work your way up to the other functions. For now, these are the basic steps in using a microwave oven rightly.
- Open the microwave oven door either by pressing the button or by pulling it open.
- Place the utensil (mug/plate) inside the oven. Make sure the utensil is not made of steel or plastic and that the contents have been shifted to a microwave safe bowl/mug.
- Shut the door and set the time for cooking. You may want to start with 1 minute and see whether you need to heat it for more or less time.
- Reset the time in case you need to heat the contents for longer.
- Check at regular intervals by mixing or stirring contents of the mug/bowl.
- Once it has acquired the desired heat, remove it carefully and enjoy!
Foods You Should Never Place in the Microwave Oven
There are various foods that you can microwave and enjoy them hot and crispy, but there are also some foods that you should not microwave. Those include:
- Eggs create steam inside the shell and will explode so don’t try to hard-boil an egg in the microwave oven.
- The spice in chilli peppers vapourises, and the fumes should be avoided.
- Try to not boil water because it sometimes ends up heating the mug and not the water. When the tea is added and stirred, it can cause the water to superheat and sometimes blow up the mug.
- Breast milk should be carefully microwaved because it can get hot in some places and remain cold in some if removed from the freezer. Microwave cooking is harmful in this case.
- Processed foods are already bad for health, and if you microwave them, it leads to the formation of cholesterol oxidation products which have been linked in the past to heart disease.
- Leafy greens should be avoided in the microwave oven because some of them can catch fire, potentially burning not only your food but your appliance as well. Exercise extreme caution!
- Oils like olive oil, peanuts, avocado etc. should not be heated because they are not liquid but fats. You can try heating them, but it may not work.
- Fruits should not be heated because they turn out to be super hot on the inside and this can burn your palate.
- Microwave cooking rice is not a good idea because rice has certain bacteria that are killed only when it is boiled on the stove.
- Frozen fruit should not be heated but defrosted instead because it can lead to good properties turning into carcinogens.
Does a Microwave Oven Decrease Your Food’s Nutritional Value?
Sometimes you may wonder if all the waves that were emitted inside a microwave oven end up doing you more harm than good. It’s a good question to ask whether microwaves end up decreasing the nutritional value by overheating and killing the nutrients. The short answer is no. You heat up food in the microwave oven for a fraction of the time that you might keep it on the stove. The stove gets a lot hotter than the oven and over a longer period of time. The most heat sensitive nutrients are usually soluble in water, so those would include vitamins and some acids that are common in vegetables. Shorter cooking time in the microwave oven means that lesser of the nutrients are being destroyed.
Tips to Keep in Mind While Using a Microwave Oven
Ovens should be used carefully. Do you see something that might be a potential red flag with your microwave oven? Make sure to get it checked by a representative of the company. Some tips to keep in mind while using a microwave oven include:
- Don’t use metal or plastic in the oven
- Try to spread the food evenly so that it heats evenly.
- Don’t cook dishes that need a lot of water.
- Stir and mix frequently.
- Cover the bowl/mug to prevent splatter.
- Pierce foods like potatoes and hotdogs with a fork so that they heat on the inside.
- Smaller the pieces of food, the quicker they cook.
- Use the defrost setting when you are thawing food.
Some of the common questions that you might have included:
1. Is it Safe to Microwave Baby Bottles?
Being a mother is a testy time only because so many important decisions have to be made regarding the welfare of the baby. Usually, new mothers have this question where they are confused about microwaving the baby bottle. Although it is not advised to heat breast milk, baby bottles can be microwaved and are safe for the baby. Breast milk has immunological properties that are destroyed in the heating process. However, cow’s milk or formula can be heated with no issues.
2. What Happens if You Stand Close to the Microwave Oven When it is Operating?
Microwave ovens are built with enough technology to block the dangerous radio waves from penetrating your body. There are small squares or circles on the door, which act as a shield since they’re of a smaller wavelength than a microwave. For the most part, nothing will happen if you stand next to a microwave oven. However, standing next to one over long periods might not be beneficial to your health either.
3. Can You Use a Plastic Container to Microwave Food?
Nowadays, ordering in food has become very common with all the food delivery apps available at your fingertips. All the containers that most restaurants sell the food in are microwavable. You cannot use any plastic in a microwave oven, as it will most probably melt. You have to use special microwavable bowls/mugs/containers, which can withstand that heat without melting into your food and spoiling your meal.
4. Is It Safe to Use a Microwave Oven During Pregnancy?
Some tests indicate that the electromagnetic waves emitted by a microwave ovenmay not be the best for pregnant women and their babies. There are some side effects of a microwave oven. If a microwave oven is old or damaged, it gives more of a reason to stay away because microwaves can harm embryos and lead to a miscarriage. Although there are no studies that show its adverse effect decisively, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Humans have made most of the technology that is available to them. Instantly heating up food is one of the simple technological marvels that we take for granted only because we use it so often. Microwave ovens have changed the game for many reasons. Although there might be some that advocate against the use of ovens due to their ill effects on our health, they are very helpful and safe if used correctly according to the microwave cooking guidelines. Exercise caution, enjoy a hot meal and the next time, take a minute to appreciate the microwave oven.