Friday, May 1, 2015

Do Microwaves Degrade Food Nutrients?

Yes, it does indeed heat our food up quickly and has become one of America’s favorite kitchen appliance- But are we losing nutrients from food when heating in a microwave?

Research shows that cooking and heating food by any method can result in some degradation of nutrients. For instance, Vitamins C and B12 degrade quickly when a food is heated. It has been shown though, other nutrients may actually benefit from the rise in temperature. For example, carotenoids (the antioxidants found in our colorful veggies, such as carrots and tomatoes) increase when the proteins that bind them break down during heating. The article suggests microwaving may be preferable to other methods for heating food, because microwave cooking times are shorter and it does a better job preserving nutrients that break down when being heated, such as Vitamin C.

It is suggested, “The cooking method that best retains nutrients is one that cooks quickly, heats food for the shortest amount of time, and uses as little liquid as possible.” Microwaving is said to meet this criteria. Using a microwave with a small amount of water essentially steams food from the inside out, keeping more vitamins and minerals in than almost any other cooking method.

However, a professor of food engineering at Cornell University, protested that because microwaves heat food unevenly, nutrients are more likely to be broken down in spots that get extremely hot. In some cases, microwaving could lead to more degradation than all other warming methods, if not handled correctly. To avoid this type of problem, put a lid on food in the microwave and keep the power relatively low, to ensure the food is being cooked rapidly, but not overheated.

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