Article by Angela Haldane
Q. I have inherited a microwave oven, but I’m not sure whether to use it or not. Could you please advise.
A. Microwave ovens are a relatively new concept for the household, whilst they offer a convenience for food preparation there is some evidence to suggest they might not be so beneficial for your health.
Research papers state that the very high temperatures generated while microwaving foods increases the cross-linking of the proteins and carbohydrates within the foods that have been microwaved. Ingestion of the Advanced Glycation End-Products (AGE’s) otherwise known as glycotoxins from microwaved foods may increase cross-linking process within the body.
One favourable report states that when meats that are partially cooked by microwaving prior to cooking by other methods have lower levels of (carcinogenic) Heterocyclic Aromatic Amines (HAAs) compared to other methods of cooking that involve high temperature. The juice that forms during the microwaving of meats contains the precursor chemicals that would form HAAs. If this liquid is poured off before further cooking, the final quantity of HAAs is reduced.
Microwaving destroys up to 60% of the carotene content of microwaved foods and up to 30-40% of the vitamin B12 content is also destroyed.
The application of high heat (above 160 degrees C) converts fatty acids from their normal "cis" form to Trans-Fatty Acids which are not beneficial for your health.
Be wary of getting burnt, microwaves can create hot spots in the food, especially in the centre. It is not recommended to heat baby’s bottles in a microwave for this reason.