When you’re asked to conjure the image of classic, unhealthy foods, what is the first thing that comes to mind? For some of us, we naturally go to the image of a fast food restaurant or a bag of chips, but there’s a pretty high chance you thought about something unhealthy and instantly pictured a microwave in your head. Why is it that microwaves are so closely tied to that which is bad for us? Let’s take a look and seriously ask ourselves, does microwaving food make it unhealthy?
The notion that microwaves cause food to become lessened is a known “fact” that travels back to its very birth. Before microwaves existed, everything had to be cooked either on a grill or in the oven, and that took time. A lot of time actually. Dinners needed to be prepared hours in advance in some cases and reheating something was an almost unthought of notion since it basically meant going through the process of cooking it again.
But then the microwave appeared and we were capable of getting food not just fast, but lightning fast by comparison. You could put cook a hot dog in a microwave ten times faster than if you threw it on the grill, or reheat things in a matter of minutes. Food became more accessible, and frozen food started to climb in popularity, giving way to the TV dinner. This one-two punch of the television and microwave seemed to doom every household to obesity and heart attacks.
Well, it would, if the microwave was actually bad for food. There’s a huge misnomer there that for some reason microwaving food makes it lose any nutrients. The myth is perpetuated based on the concept that anything that doesn’t require patience must therefore be junk in relation to something that does, so frozen broccoli must be worse for you than fresh broccoli. In truth, and this will really scramble your mind, microwaving generally helps preserve more of a food’s natural nutritional content than traditional baking. How is this possible? Well, microwaving cooks food from the inside out, meaning vitamins and minerals aren’t burned away or boiled off. Strange how that works. This applies to reheating something as well, so while the texture may not be as good the first time, no further loss of nutrients occurs.
A lot, if not all, of the blame on microwaving items comes from the typical foods you find that are specifically microwaveable. These foods, like Hot Pockets or TV dinners, are heavily processed and basically just put together to resemble food that can be heated up. I don’t need to go into bashing microwaveable food because we already understand that it isn’t there to be a staple of a healthy diet, but it’s why we think the microwave is an item that does nothing but make food worse for us. False, it’s just a means of heating things.
I’m not here to promote the microwave or anything, I don’t use it any more than I really have to and I prefer the taste and texture of food that comes from an oven, but I just don’t want to see people misunderstanding an essential 21st century convenience. The microwave is your friend, and we can either choose to use it to make eating healthier easier, or as a crutch to dive into junk food. The choice is up to you!