Is heating up food using a microwave healthy?

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5 Aug 2016 - General

How the microwave cooks food

Microwaves cook food with waves of energy invisible to the naked eye.  It is similar to radio waves.  Microwave energy primarily affects water molecules and molecules similar in makeup to water.  Waves from the microwave vibrate the water molecules creating heat.

Are microwaves safe to use every day?

A concern with microwaves is if they can leak the waves into surrounding areas.  Microwave energy waves are only released when activated, like when a light bulb is switched on.  If a microwave is damaged or does not seal properly, there could be a risk for leakage of waves from the microwave.

Limits nutrient loss

Using a microwave could be beneficial for keeping nutrients in foods, compared to other cooking methods.  Some nutrients, like B vitamins and vitamin C, are sensitive to heat and cooking liquids.


The use of microwaves has some people question their safety.  However, organizations such as the WHO and Harvard Health suggest using microwaves is a safe way to heat up food as long as the microwave is able to close properly and is sealed.

Using plastic to heat food up is not recommended because compounds in the plastic can leach into food which could be carcinogenic.  Therefore, another precaution for using a microwave, especially every day, is heating food up without plastics. Microwaving food in plastic is NOT recommended.  Plastics contain compounds, like BPA, that can leach into food when cooked at high temperatures.

Another consideration for using a microwave every day is what foods you are using it to heat up.  Ready to eat, processed foods are usually high in calories, sodium, fat, preservatives and can be low in beneficial nutrition.

Theekshana Abayawickrama: Ya the possibility of it getting heated despite my attempt to cover it up is there. This just calls for me to run early or having to retire all my plastic sports bottles for the metal kind. I was not aware about the glass-like baby proof material bottles. I would presume this costs a lot more than the plastic kind which is why I probably haven't really seen it around here (then again ...
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Jennifer Winter Not exposing the plastic bottle to the sun could in fact save you from being poisoned, but is it going to be possible all the time. Even when it's covered, heat could get inside in a matter of 30-45 minutes. And who's to say that those materials would not disintegrate in room temperature.. About milk bottles for babies, I think now they do have this glass like 'baby-proof' material...
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Theekshana Abayawickrama: well yet again there are things the manufacturing mongers aren't telling the public. It is my first time to hear of BPS. Thanks for sharing that! Now I don't see myself carrying a glass container when I go running. I would cover by plastic bottle with my jacket which I would leave at the side of the track though. I would like to believe that I am saving myself from getting "p...
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Jennifer Winter Haha. Thanks for the suggestion. How stupid of me for not realizing this earlier. (*starts saving money for a fridge) :D I had a bit of a look around for this code on plasticware and BPA. Apparently BPA-free plastic containers are just as hazardous BPA containing plastics. ( I have friends who advice pat...
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Theekshana Abayawickrama: Ah I see. Quite a predicament you have there. I believe that compound is BPA. When plastic ware is heated BPA eventually leaks into the food or liquids stored in it. This is why they are pushing for making containers BPA free. I think a few plastic wares have this label on them. Ok so now since the problem is that these containers take up too much space I have another solution for you buy...
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Jennifer Winter I actually did that! I bought a whole set of microwave safe ceramic containers. But they take up too much space in the refrigerator, and they are HEAVY so I still can't get rid of the habit of using plastic boxes. Speaking of plastic, it is also told that carrying water in plastic bottles and keeping them exposed to the direct sunlight is bad. Apparently there are carcinogenic compounds in the...
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Ah that is good to know. Many have been saying that using microwaves could increase the chances of you getting cancer. We don't have a microwave anymore at home and people would look at me astonished, "how do you re-heat your food???" On the stove or in the oven. haha. I do like the convenience of having a microwave but I have learned to live without one. Theekshana Abayawickrama: haha well you proba...
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Please don't tell me that eating food heated in a microwave is unhealthy. I have been using the microwave for a very long time, and I'm so scared to die of cancer! :D Yeah as I have also heard, the microwaves do not have enough energy to cause molecular structural alterations/damage to food. But using plastic-ware to heat up food in the microwave can cause the plastic molecules to disintegrate and mix with you food, which might be harmful for the body. Although I know it is not good, I o...
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Microwave is electromagnectic wave with wavelength of 1mm to 1m. Hence it is non ionising and do not cause you or your food to mutate. Ionizing radiation starts from 100nm which is your x-ray. Different molecules has different absorption coefficient for different wavelength of radiation. Take your melanin, it aborb wavelength from 200nm to 1500nm and blood from 220nm to 1500nm. As it has a large wavelength, it can penetrate really deeply. It is absorbed mostly deep into the food and converted t...
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