I recently did a presentation for a community education series titled called “Fighting Cancer With Your Fork”. I have done this presentation several times and get many great questions from the audience. One question from the most recent presentation involved the safety of microwaving food.
I do have a disclaimer when it comes to this topic. I think the disclaimer also adds a bit of credibility to my words, so here it is!
My dad is a nuclear engineer.
My brother is a nuclear engineer.
My husband went to nuclear engineering camp in high school and started in nuclear in college.
These guys know about radiation safety! However, I still believe that I have an objective and unbiased opinion when it comes to microwaving.
People love that microwaving food is easy. But there is a bit of mystery about the microwave. Mainly… How the heck does it cook the food in there??
You don’t see the source of heat, but the food comes out HOT! I believe this is where people start to worry. They don’t understand how it works and therefore feel that it must not be safe.
At this point I’m going to have to give you a life tip. You will not understand everything in life. At some point you will have to trust that some things just work out!
Anyway… back to microwaving!
How a Microwave Works
The microwave converts ordinary electric power from a wall socket into waves. The radio waves in the microwave are thousands of times weaker than those in UV rays or x-rays. They are almost the same frequency as used in many cordless phones, wireless LAN, Bluetooth(R), and the new wireless broadband internet.
These rays result in energy that is readily absorbed by water, fats and sugars, resulting in very fast wave vibration and high temperatures that cook the food. The power cooks the food just like any other heat source.
Contrary to myth, a microwave does NOT cook the food from the inside out. The reason that microwaved food does not crisp like oven food is that the air in the microwave is room temperature, since the energy rays do not heat air. In an oven the air is heated along with the food, and therefore cooks the outside of the meal.
It’s also important to know that the rays in a microwave do not have enough power to damage DNA and therefore cannot cause cancer. Additionally, there have been absolutely no valid studies that suggest microwaving food causes cancer.
There are some things to know about containers you use to microwave food. In the next post, I will give you the information you need to have the benefits of quick, convenient meals without the risk of harming your health.
In the grand scheme of things, compared to grilling, microwaving is much safer! (See my post on grilling for more information).
Should you need to understand the microwaving process further, you will have to consult a different source!