Microwaves are great for re-heating the previous night’s leftovers because they can warm the food quickly and evenly, but when it comes to opting for proper cooking in microwave, people do have lingering doubts whether it’s safe enough. Cooking in microwave has always been controversial, with people raising concerns about the potential contamination of food with radioactive substance, and also the loss of nutrients due to the intense heat produced during the process. But individuals who are trying to lose weight would be more interested to find out if cooking through this method would reduce the nutritional profile food and destroy all the vitamins and minerals in it. Also, will microwave make weight-loss friendly fiber and protein (that you so carefully include in the diet to boost weight loss) ineffective? So, in this article, we would try to find out if microwaving food is bad for health and weight loss. And if you can use microwave to whip up some weight-loss friendly meals conveniently? This article will clear all your lingering doubts surrounding microwave, cooking, health, and weight loss.
How Do Microwaves Work?
Microwaves typically operate at a frequency of 2450 MHz and require a power range of 500 to 1100 watts. These microwaves are generated by a component called a magnetron. The microwaves have a unique property of selectively interacting with certain molecules, particularly water molecules and other electrically asymmetrical molecules (molecules with a positive and negative end). The microwaves cause these electrically asymmetrical molecules, such as water, fats, and sugars, to rapidly vibrate due to the alternating electromagnetic fields. This vibration generates heat energy within the food. As the molecules vibrate and collide with each other, friction is created, and this friction results in the rapid heating of the food. It is important to note that microwaves are exclusively absorbed by the food itself, leaving the cooking utensils or containers unaffected. The utensils only warm up indirectly through the heat transmitted from the food. Nevertheless, it is crucial to avoid using plastic materials in microwaves as they can potentially melt, rendering the food inedible.
Is Food Cooked in Microwave Safe?
Food cooked in a microwave is absolutely safe, the World Health Organization says so. Microwave ovens utilize energy waves that target water and other molecules that exhibit electrical asymmetry—where one end carries a positive charge while the other end carries a negative charge to generate thermal energy or heat. The locks in microwave ovens are designed to limit the microwave radiation within the oven and prevent the waves from escaping when the oven is in operation. Most importantly, microwaves do not alter the chemical composition of food any differently than other traditional cooking methods that we follow on stove. The heat generated by microwaves is similar to the heat produced by other sources of cooking. So, food cooked in microwave is completely safe and it also would retain nutrients the same way as other methods of cooking would.
Does Microwaving Food Destroy its Nutrient Value?
As we have mentioned above, cooking in microwave is not much different than other sources of cooking. The nutrients that break down when they are exposed to heat will break down in all forms of cooking, even on stove or oven. Earlier, some studies had pointed to the loss of flavonoids in vegetables through microwaving, but research done later revealed that cooking vegetables for shorter duration didn’t affect the nutrients in them. To retain maximum nutrients, microwave food for short periods and at moderate temperatures. When microwaving protein-rich foods, cover them with a lid to retain moisture and to help distribute heat more evenly. Stirring the food during cooking can also promote even heating.
Does Microwave Make Food Radioactive?
Heat is produced when microwave energy enters food and reacts with water molecules, and there’s absolutely no threat of contamination or radioactivity. To dispel some misconceptions, it is important to realize that food cooked in a microwave oven does not become “radioactive.” Also, the food cooked in such a way does not retain the microwaves once the power is switched off.
Now that we have cleared the air regarding the safety of cooking in microwave, here’s a list of 7 foods that can be made in microwave and are good for weight loss:
7 Microwave Foods That Are Good Weight Loss:
1. Baked Sweet Potatoes: You can cook nutrient-rich sweet potatoes in the microwave without any oil or butter. To make sweet potatoes, pierce the potatoes with a fork, place them on a microwave-safe plate, and cook until tender. You can get a weight-loss friendly, easy-to-make, quick snack that is absolutely healthy as well.
2. Steamed Veggies: Did you know steamed broccoli holds on to more glucosinolates (compounds that help fight cancer and heart disease) than boiled or fried broccoli. The microwave is excellent for steaming vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, green peas, beans, etc., as it helps retain their nutrients and natural flavors. To steam veggies, place them in a microwave-safe dish with a little water, cover with a microwave-safe lid or microwave-safe plastic wrap, and cook until tender. This method preserves the color, texture, and nutritional value of the vegetables. You can eat these steamed veggies with hummus or tahini dip or make a delicious salad with them.
3. Make Popcorn without Oil or Butter: You can totally skip butter and oil by popping corn kernels in the microwave. But do avoid microwavable popcorn bags that are high in calories and can potentially contain harmful ingredients. To make popcorn in the microwave, place ¼ cup of popcorn kernels in a microwave-safe bowl or microwave-safe paper bag. Cover the bowl with a microwave-safe plate or use the opening of the paper bag to fold it closed. Microwave on high power for approximately 3 to 4 minutes depending on the power of your microwave. Once the popcorn is ready, season it with salt and other seasonings. By using this method, you can enjoy a lighter version of popcorn without added oil or butter. Also read: “Is Movie Theater Popcorn Good For Weight Loss?”
4. Microwave Veggie Chips: Ditch the store-bought potato chips because making microwave veggie chips is a quick and easy process. You can make delicious chips out of veggies like potatoes, sweet potatoes, zucchini, beetroot, carrot, etc. Wash and slice the vegetables into thin, even slices. Place the sliced vegetables in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate or a microwave-safe silicone mat. Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over the vegetable slices or use cooking spray to lightly coat them. You can also sprinkle some salt or other seasonings of your choice, such as garlic powder, paprika, or herbs. Microwave the vegetables on high power in short intervals, usually starting with 1-2 minutes. Some slices may cook faster than others depending on their thickness, so you can remove the crispy ones and continue microwaving the rest until they reach the desired texture. Be careful not to overcook and burn them. Once the veggie chips are cooked to your liking, remove them from the microwave and let them cool on the plate. The chips will become crispier as they cool down. Enjoy the microwave veggie chips as a healthy snack on their own or serve them with dips or sauces of your choice.
5. Scrambled Eggs: Crack eggs into a microwave-safe bowl. Add salt, pepper, and a small amount of milk or water if desired. Whisk the ingredients together until well combined. Lightly grease the inside of the microwave-safe bowl with cooking spray or butter to prevent the eggs from sticking. Place the bowl in the microwave and cook on high power for about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from the microwave and stir the eggs with a fork or a whisk to break them up. Return the bowl to the microwave and continue cooking in 15-20 second intervals, stirring in between, until the eggs are almost set. The cooking time will depend on the wattage of your microwave and the desired consistency of the eggs.
6. Toasted Nuts: Toasted nuts can be enjoyed as a snack and also used as a topping for salads to add extra crunch and flavor. You can choose from a variety of nuts (almonds, walnuts, cashews, etc.) and just add a sprinkle of salt or a dash of cinnamon, to create your preferred toasted nut combinations. To make toasted nuts, place them in a microwave-safe dish, and microwave them on high power for 1-minute intervals, stirring or tossing them between each interval. The toasting time will depend on the type and quantity of nuts, as well as the wattage of your microwave. Toast the nuts till they become fragrant and lightly golden brown. If they need more toasting, continue microwaving in 30-second intervals. Once the nuts are toasted to your liking, remove them from the microwave and let them cool on the plate or dish. They will become crispier as they cool down. Toasting nuts in the microwave is a quick and efficient method that yields deliciously crunchy results. Also read: “5 Points To Remember When Picking Healthy Foods For Weight Loss.”
7. Peanut Butter Mug Cake: Don’t be surprised! You can make a weight loss-friendly peanut butter mug cake, by modifying the traditional recipe by using healthier ingredients. Here’s how – In a microwave-safe mug, whisk together peanut flour, almond flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, salt, and a weight-loss friendly sweetener until well combined. Add almond milk and vanilla extract also and stir until the batter is smooth. Place the mug in the microwave and cook on high power for about 1 to 2 minutes. Cooking times may vary depending on the wattage of your microwave, so keep an eye on the cake as it cooks. The cake will rise and become firm to the touch when it’s done. Remove the mug from the microwave and let the cake cool for a few minutes, and enjoy this quick dessert on your cheat day.
Summing up, cooking in a microwave can be a healthy option if you use it properly. There are many weight-loss friendly dishes that you can make in a microwave, but you should be aware of which dishes to cook. For such diet plans, subscribe to the Rati Beauty app, where we would introduce you to foods that trigger fat burning and lead to fat loss. Download the Rati Beauty app for more details.